Oh the weather outside may be frightful, but having good books to read during December is delightful! If you’re looking for some fresh titles to add to your holiday collection, look no further. This post shares 20 diverse Christmas read-alouds for elementary-aged kids. Adults will love these holiday books too.
PLUS–you can grab some fun Christmas / holiday activities to use in your classroom.
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Why You Need Diverse Christmas Read-Alouds
Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.– Ola Joseph
As an educator, I take pride in preparing my students to thrive in life outside of the classroom.
And our world is like a beautiful tapestry filled with differences that are good and enriching. Exposing students to those differences–while also building academic rigor–makes teaching and learning life-changing.
Learning about different winter holidays around the world brings me so much joy!
Plus students light up when they get to share more about their own diverse Christmas traditions from home.
These reasons and more send me on a giddy hunt each year for new diverse Christmas read-alouds.
So, as you enjoy the titles on this list, also be sure to check out the growing list from my Amazon storefront.
Let’s dive into these 20 beautiful holiday books for kids.
1–Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
“This is an amazing book! I’m Jewish and my husband is Catholic and we were looking for a book to teach our children about both traditions. This book met our requirement and then some. Really beautifully written and our kids love it!” -Melissa
I recommend this book to give elementary kids a peek into two winter holidays at once: Hanukkah and Christmas.
For December reading stations, I would also add these two informational text passages with this read-aloud. One on the history of Hanukkah and one on the history of Christmas.
Then you can have your students do a compare/ contrast graphic organizer detailing the two winter holidays. 🙌🏾
2–Piñata in a Pine Tree by Pat Mora
Have you ever heard the song “12 Days of Christmas”? Yep, the one with the partridge in a pear tree?
Well, this adorable book adds a Latin twist to that Christmas classic, by putting a piñata in a pine tree!
I also added this to the list of diverse Christmas read-alouds for these reasons:
- the mix of Spanish and English vocabulary to promote bilingualism
- different aspects of Hispanic culture blended in with Christmas traditions
- an included glossary at the end of the book with pronunciations and definitions
AND here’s a teaching tip: challenge your students to use context clues and inferencing to define the Spanish words.
For example, one line from the book says, “On the first day of Christmas, my amiga gave to me…” which shows the main character with her grandmother.
Ask students questions like, “Based on the picture and other details, what does “amiga” mean?”
That’s one way to infuse culturally-diverse teaching with academic skills. 🤗
3–Santa in the City by Tiffany Jackson
Another one of my favorite diverse Christmas read-alouds for kids is Santa in the City.
I even bragged about it in this YouTube Shorts video:
Here’s what another person has to say about the book:
“A well illustrated diverse children’s book that captures the imagination of so many kids like Deja that have questions about Santa during Christmas time. It also captures the every day life of people in the city during Christmas as well. Deja’s questions about Christmas are finally answered.“
4–Happy All-idays by Cindy Jin
What better way to infuse a variety of cultural celebrations into your reading routine than with a book that highlights ALL winter holidays in one?!
Now, I will admit: this is a board book that has a reading level better suited for K-2nd graders.
This may seem out of touch for upper elementary teachers, but I still recommend it for these reasons:
- You can add informational text passages about the holidays mentioned in the book WITH the book.
- It does a great job capturing the meaning of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and more–all in one book.
- I really like the holiday card illustrations throughout. In fact, you can add a craftivity to this book where students must design their own holiday card based on their family traditions.
5–I Got the Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison
This book has some of the most gorgeous illustrations and shows a beautiful black girl with the joyous Christmas spirit.
In fact, to be very honest, the pictures are my favorite aspect of this Christmas book. 😊
As far as the story goes, it gives you a lot of examples for teaching onomatopoeia. In addition to this, it highlights the feelings of excitement kids get during the holidays.
You could turn this read-aloud into a clever way to get kids writing more by having them answer a prompt about their feelings during the holidays.
6–Santa’s Kwanzaa by Garen Eileen Thomas
What does Santa do after he delivers presents to everyone for Christmas? He goes home to begin Kwanzaa celebrations.
Here’s what one reviewer thinks of this book:
This is an excellent picture book for a preschooler or kindergartener, and as an introduction to Kwanzaa. It reads to the tune of the “night before christmas,” so its smooth and fun to read, and the illustrations are lively, vivid and beautiful. (I almost want to buy an extra copy to hang some of the illustrations on my child’s wall).
Children that are immersed in knowing about Santa are able to easily understand how Kwanzaa comes next and carry over some of that holiday excitement over to Kwanzaa, but it is up to the parent to fully explain Kwanzaa to the child, using this book as an opener I would say.
I like the idea of representing the 7 principles as the 7 elves–it made it easier to explain the “special traits” of each elf and why they were important for the whole family (and the community–which Kwanzaa emphasizes). –C. Mill
7–The Night Before Christmas: An African American Retelling by Nolan Nixon
As soon as I learned that this book was written by a teenager, I had to add it to my list of diverse Christmas read-alouds!
I knew that this one trait about the author would grab students’ attention and hopefully inspire them to write more.
Plus, I remember reading The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore as a kid and LOVED 🥰 it!
This holiday book is based on that classic, but in a way that highlights Christmas with an African-American Santa and family.
8–The Night Before Christmas (Original Classic) by Clement Moore
Since we’ve added the African-American version of this classic Christmas read-aloud, having both makes things even better!
Of course, I recommend reading both back to back, then have your students compare and contrast the two.
9–The Legend of The Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne
This is hands-down one of my FAVORITE Christmas read-alouds ever!
It’s one part of a series that I like to call The Christmas Legends. I’ve been using these read-alouds in my class for years.
Here’s a brief explanation of them from my Instagram:
These beautiful classics give a fictional background story on symbols that are popular during Christmas.
Once my students read the book, we do reading activities aligned to it like:
- define the vocabulary in context using QR codes
- design your own Christmas stocking
- complete a reading comprehension worksheet
- work with a partner to fill in each reading graphic organizer that goes with the book
You can also use this Legend of The Christmas Stocking full read-aloud set in your classroom if you want ready-to-go reading activities aligned to the book.
10–The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
11–The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne
12-The Day Santa Got Sick by Deanne Samuels
I am a special education teacher at an elementary school. For Christmas, I read this book to my class. It generated so much conversation among my students. One student identified the narrative text structured of conflict, which we had studied a few weeks prior. This completely pleased me that she was able to make this connection.
We even discussed the cultural differences displayed in the book. Also, the message of the book was not lost–learning to read is important. This is a significant message for my group of students because the majority of my students have a reading disability. My students really enjoyed this book. -Yolanda
How to Get This Christmas Book for FREE
The digital version of The Day Santa Got Sick is available through the Kindle Unlimited Reading Program, which I highly recommend.
In fact, there are other books from this list of diverse Christmas read-alouds for kids available through Kindle.
You do not need a Kindle reader to access these e-books, just a device with the free Kindle app.
I’ve used Kindle for years as a teacher and parent. You can digitally “check out” up to 10 books or magazines at once for $9.99 a month.
If you’re curious, try it free for 30 days using my referral code here 👉🏾 Kindle Unlimited Trial.
13–The Night Before Hanukkah by Natasha Wing
I love every “Night Before…” book by Natasha Wing. There are 33 to date in the series and this one about Hanukkah is just as good as the others that I’ve read.
Each evening, the family gathers to light the candles and share holiday traditions such as playing dreidel, eating latkes, and exchanging gifts.
Students can learn more about symbols related to Hanukkah with this book.
14–The Real Santa by Nancy Reed
This beautifully illustrated book showcases the main character–a Black boy–who is determined to find out what Santa looks like.
I love how the author also weaves in the family’s traditions as this young boy works so hard to stay awake on Christmas Eve to see Santa.
Since representation matters so much, I think it’s great for all kids to see an elementary-aged African-American boy experiencing some of the same feelings and traditions they may have during Christmas.
15–What Do You Celebrate?: Holidays and Festivals Around the World by Whitney Stewart
Even though this book highlights several holidays that don’t happen in December, I still include it with my diverse Christmas read-alouds to pair with my winter holidays around the world activity.
This nonfiction book is very kid-friendly with charts, graphs, pictures, and more about so many different holidays from various countries.
16–The Square Root of Possible: A Jingle Jangle Story by Lyn Sisson-Talbert and David E. Talbert
When Netflix featured the holiday movie Jingle Jangle starring Phylicia Rashad, Forrest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan Michael Key, and newcomer Madalen Mills, I was hooked immediately!
So, as soon as this book was available, I snatched it up and added it to my December book collection.
This is such an inspiring story about a creative, but struggling toymaker who gets robbed.
It takes the perseverance of his math-brilliant granddaughter to help him see what’s possible again.💖
This book takes a scene from that movie and puts it in story form! If you’re allowed and able in your school, watching the movie with this book would definitely be the icing on the cake! 🎂
Worst Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
If you want a funny Christmas chapter book to read, this one hits the nail on the head!
I’ve read this book several times and still crack up laughing at it. Here’s a summary of what it’s about:
“Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked.”
You and your students will love this Christmas classic!
18–Never Ever Race a Reindeer by Mary Nhin and Adam Wallace
Although the overall theme of this book list is about diversity, I also like adding books with animals as the main character.
Often these type of books are great are teaching personification and point of view.
Plus, Mary Nhin’s rhyming reindeer book cracks me up!
This summary describes it perfectly:
There are some things about Christmas that have fooled us, and one of them is that reindeer are calm and peaceful. NO!
They’re actually really competitive, and will even cheat to win a race! It is for this very reason that you should never EVER Race a Reindeer.
19–Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer
Speaking of animal main characters, Humphrey the camel has been in my December reading rotation since 2018.
This Christmas read-aloud has a Christian theme because Humphrey is one of the camels carrying the Three Wise Men to see baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
But at first all Humphrey wants is his carpet blanket and he is determined to get it back.
The surprising twist in his attitude is a tear-jerker and I highly recommend this book if you want a good story that shows the power of sharing and giving.
20–God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergen
Last, but certainly not least, in our show down of diverse Christmas read-alouds is from Lisa Tawn Bergen’s God Gave Us board book series.
Just like the previous book, this one has a Christian theme that focuses on Jesus as the center and reason for Christmas.
Not only that, but it also features animals as the main characters just like the previous two read-alouds before it.
Here’s how one reviewer describes it:
This is the best explanation of God & Christmas that I’ve ever read in a children’s book or movie. Mama takes Little Cub around to different sights & explains to him how God is at work and/or how it demonstrates God’s presence and love for us, & explains why God gave us Jesus...
I also use this book in the Sunday School class that I teach, so it works for different settings.
Christmas Activities to Use in the Classroom
Looking for more holiday ideas to use in the classroom? Here you go, teacher friend: 🎄
Lighting Up Our Class with Kindness December Bulletin Board not only looks amazing, but it fosters a classroom of giving and kindness during the holidays!
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