As teachers, sometimes our hands are tied by school or district policies when it comes to exposing our little learners to cultural or religious holidays. I was always glad to be allowed to teach holidays, as long as these were taught in an all-inclusive way that made children aware of the diverse ways and days people celebrate but didn’t promote one over another.
In one school, we had a marvelous time making a special day of this, with a festival showcasing a great variety of holidays. Our students’ eyes sparkled from all the colors, lights, adornment, and spectacle that so many cultural holidays involve.
But whether you’ll be teaching about holidays or not, our little learners will always benefit from life’s bigger lessons of giving and gratitude.
Be sure to check out earlier posts on Teaching Gratitude and Books that Teach Gratitude. Along with those ideas and books, here are 5 books that will help develop generosity to go with all that gratitude your little ones are bursting with by now. (Our Gratitude Wall is still going strong all thanks to my little guy. He reminds if I forget about adding to it daily!)
And stay tuned for more book recommendations! Happy reading!
* Click on the titles for easy Amazon shopping!
You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest (Ages 2-5)
Aw. Candlewick Press. Amy Best. And Anita Jeram. How could you and your little one not love this book? You’d have to have a heart as cold as the snowy scenes in this book. Sam is helping his mother to deliver some yummy gifts to neighbors, but must overcome his nerves and then feels such a sense of accomplishment from delivering their “tasty surprise” all by himself. A sweet read about giving, and since it’s set in winter, it makes a great alternative to Christmas-specific stories.
Love Monster and the Perfect Present by Rachel Bright (Ages 2-5)
While struggling to find the perfect present for that special someone on Present Day, Love Monster learns that the best gift comes from the heart. You’ll be feeling all warm and fuzzy like a monster when you finish the book. Check out the rest of the series and the adorable monster doll.
Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift by Dara Goldman (Ages 4-8)
Boris is Russian and celebrates Hanukkah, while Stella is Italian and celebrates Christmas. I love the central theme of selflessness, sacrifice, and truly thinking of the other person in order to find the perfect gift. The fact the two friends come from different countries, cultures, religions, and occupations makes this book a great conversation starter for appreciation of diversity and multicultural backgrounds, especially during the holiday season, assuming this is kosher at your school.
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow (Ages 4-8)
As Mr. Rabbit helps a little girl find the perfect gift for her mother, the reader will see that it takes thoughtfulness, time, and love to find the perfect gift for a loved one. Children will appreciate some of the strange but thoughtful ideas Mr. Rabbit offers. The illustrations by Maurice Sendak and talk of color might inspire artistic little hands to make some beautiful artwork for a special person. That’s what this momma is hoping, but I’ll have to wait. This book is really quite wordy for under 4. Also available in Spanish as El señor conejo y el hermoso regalo, a rather good translation.
The Giving Book: Open the Door To A Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin (Ages 4-8)
An activity book and journal that will make a great keepsake later. Filled with activities that will inspire and record your little learners’ experiences as they “open the door to a lifetime of giving”, charity, compassion, and service.
If you’re looking for more great read-alouds for the holiday season, don’t miss:
12 Classic Christmas Read-Alouds (Coming soon!)
5 Bilingual Latino Books About Christmas (Just added!)
8 Books About Winter (Coming soon!)