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Holiday music, red cups, latkes, kinaras: the winter holidays are coming up, there’s no doubt about it! No matter what you celebrate, it’s always fun to curl up with children and read a story about traditions or holidays, whether they’re your own or provide an opportunity to learn about a holiday that you don’t celebrate. There is no shortage of holiday books for kids, and toddlers are no exception. From family traditions to favorite characters celebrating, there are plenty of holiday and Christmas books for toddlers from which to choose, many of which also include things like counting, colors, and letters to engage your child even more.
What age group constitutes “toddler?” For me, I’d say any kid between the ages of 1 through 4. Other people may have their own definitions, and that’s fine. But for the purposes of this book list, that’s how I was working when I looked at the books. Some of the picture books listed are more suited to adults reading to older toddlers, whereas the board books are great for reading to a toddler or for them to explore on their own.
Whether you celebrate these holidays yourself, or you want to introduce your child to holidays that others celebrate, here are some great winter holiday-themed books to read with your littlest ones. Let’s take a look!
D is for Dreidel by Greg Paprocki
These alphabet books by BabyLit are always fun for little kids and they come in a variety of topics and holidays. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, this alphabet with things like “E is for eight nights” and “R is for rabbi” is a really cute addition to your holiday book roundup.
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
In this story, Li’l Rabbit finds out the real meaning of Kwanzaa: coming together to help other people. Granna Rabbit is sick, and so Li’l Rabbit isn’t really having a great Kwanzaa, especially because his family isn’t celebrating his favorite part of Kwanzaa — a feast called Karamu. He decides to help make Granna Rabbit feel better, but is he too little to do it by himself?
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My Baby Loves Christmas by Jabari Asim, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
This is such a beautiful book about the simple things about the winter holidays and Christmas that Baby loves: snow, candy canes, jingle bells, and more. The rhythm of the rhymes is great for younger toddlers, and the artwork will keep their attention without being overwhelming.
10 Trim-the-Tree’ers by Janet Shulman, illustrated by Linda Davick
If you’re looking for a fun, interactive Christmas read for you and your toddler, this one is perfect. This counting board book depicts a group of little kids who are neighbors, helping to trim the Christmas tree in their building’s lobby. Kids will love counting the number of objects they see in the picture and matching it with the text, and overall, it’s a cute Christmas read. (Note: there are multiple formats available, but for toddlers the board book format would be my choice.)
Little Santa’s Workshop by Lala Watkins
Who doesn’t love Santa? This fun rhyming board book takes toddlers into Santa’s workshop, showing them what happens behind the scenes. It’s a thick, chunky smaller board book, so it’s perfect for little hands. The illustrations are joyful and the rhymes are catchy, making for a really cute book that you won’t get tired of reading.
‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by Sara Palacios
This heartwarming tale of a Latinx family getting ready for Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is one you’ll want to read over and over. Modeled after “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this story describes them making tamales, decorating the house, and drinking champurrado (hot chocolate). The illustrations are warm and friendly, and it’s a delightful story that you’ll want to bring out each year.
Soulful Holidays by Ciara L. Hill, illustrated by Christian Krabbe
If your family celebrates Christmas and Kwanzaa, you’ll want to add this one to your list — heck, if you want to introduce your kids to the holidays in general, you’ll want this one, too. Kids can learn about the meaning of Kwanzaa while hearing about the food, songs, and decorations, along with the celebrations of Christmas. This is an inclusive book that’s a great addition to any holiday collection.
You’re My Little Latke by Natalie Marshall
This fun board book has cutouts and shapes that toddlers will love to feel and explore. Marshall writes a sweet story about loving a child while talking about jelly donuts, dreidels, gelt, latkes, and more. It’s an enjoyable rhyming tale that’s perfect to get everyone in the mood for some Hanukkah treats — just don’t read it on an empty stomach!
Carla and the Christmas Cornbread by Carla Hall, illustrated by Cherise Harris
Hall, a chef and TV host, has written a nostalgic story inspired by her childhood that makes for a wonderful holiday read. When young Carla accidentally eats some of the sugar cookie that’s meant for Santa, she’s convinced she’s ruined Christmas. How will Santa know to stop at her house if he doesn’t see his snack? Granny has just the answer. While the story might be a little old for young toddlers, for older ones and their older siblings, this is a sweet holiday story highlighting the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild.
Green is for Christmas by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Green Crayon says he’s the only color for Christmas, which is news to other crayons like red, silver, white, and tan. It’s only by all the colors coming together that Christmas can be what it fully is, in all its colorful glory. The crayon books are always full of joy and humor, and this one is no different.