Christmas isn’t always about Santa, reindeer, and presents. There are many unique holiday traditions around the world. Expand your child’s knowledge with these fun, educational stories about how other cultures approach this season.
A Stork in a Baobab Tree
by Catherine House
Learn about African Christmas culture and village life with this vibrant, upbeat book.
This story is inspired by the traditional 12 Days of Christmas, but with a slight twist on the gifts: One stork, two thatched huts, three woven baskets, four market traders, the list goes on and on. Beautiful, colorful illustrations that are bound to intrigue children of all ages.
Another great African Christmas story to check out is An African Christmas by Ifeoma Onyefulu.
An Aussie Night Before Christmas
by Yvonne Morrison
Many kids don’t even know that seasons are opposite in the southern hemisphere! That means that Australians celebrate Christmas in the summer.
In this delightful book, Santa gets creative about delivering presents, using a ute instead of a sleigh, and kangaroos instead of reindeer! A perfect way to learn about Australian customs, sayings, and animals.
Also, check out Christmas Wombat by Jackie French, where a charming wombat competes with Santa’s reindeer for carrots. A delightful read for all ages.
And while you’re exploring Oceania, go ahead and get Santa is Coming to New Zealand by Steve Smallman.
A Piñata in a Pine Tree
by Pat Mora
A festive and fun Latino twist to the traditional 12 Days of Christmas, with colorful piñatas instead of partridges, plus burritos bailando (dancing donkeys), lunitas cantando (singing moons), and so much more.
Spanish words are included on every page, with a pronunciation guide and a glossary. A fantastic way to learn about the Latino culture in a vibrant, fun-filled book—bound to warm everyone’s heart.
Another Latino option is ‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Watch as a Latino family hosts a wonderful night full of laughter, love, and delicious food—with tasty tamales and champurrado (hot chocolate).
Feliz Navidad to all.
Little Noelle’s Christmas Wish
by Meg McNamara
Set in Paris in the 1950s, little Noelle loves her Christmas traditions. Her father, who flies around the world as a pilot, takes her to the Eiffel Tower, also called the World’s Biggest Christmas Tree. Every year they make a wish on one of the lights. Noelle must be brave and make a special wish on her own the year Papa doesn’t come home in time for Christmas.
Also, check out A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time. This is a fantastic compilation with popular French Christmas stories, including classics by Guy de Maupassant and Alphonse Daudet, as well as stories by Irène Némirovsky, Dominique Fabre, and Jean-Philippe Blondel. A great showcase on how the French make Christmas extra special.
Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing
by Amy Welborn
Delve deep into long-standing Italian traditions with this delightful book. Alessandro is inspired to create a baby Jesus figure, thanks to the encouragement from his grandfather. The intention is to take the figure to Rome and to have the Holy Father bless it on Bambinelli Sunday. The sequence of events that follow show Alessandro how he can view his world in a new way.
This book is best for children ages 7-10.
Another great Italian option is Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola. This is a heartwarming story about magic, family, and love.
The Miracle of St. Nicholas
by Gloria Whelan
Set in a small Russian village, Alexi learns about what Christmas was like in days past from her babushka: “Our church was as crowded as a pod full of peas. Candles made the church as bright as the sunniest day. Watching over us was the blessed icon of St. Nicholas.”
Alexi is left stumped as to why things have changed, to which her Babushka explains that it would take a miracle to go back to the way things used to be. The story unfolds to show how hope and faith will always persevere, even in the face of conflict and struggle.
This story touches everyone’s hearts, including adults who know the truth about what some people have gone through to hold on to their heritage and faith. It is an excellent addition to anyone’s cultural Christmas collection.
Peiling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas
by Pauline Chen
Originally from Taiwan, 11-year-old Peiling Wang has lived in America since she was small. Her family has never celebrated Christmas, not in the traditional sense. But with enough prodding and begging from Peiling, along with the help from her upbeat, young uncle, they give it a try.
What follows is a crazy amount of high hopes coupled with unrealistic expectations, along with a string of disappointments and disasters. But don’t worry, there’s a silver lining, and Peiling rejoices in finding it!
Christmas Around the World (It’s a Small World)
by Calliope Glass
This is a great book to explore traditions for multiple countries. Watch as Pedro, Zanele, and a group of friends join in the Christmas joy, traditions, and festivity around the world.
From festive fireworks in Brazil, a decorative mango tree in South Africa, to setting out wooden shoes in the Netherlands (in hopes of receiving yummy treats), you’re bound to be entertained and educated. Illustrations are inspired by the popular Disney attraction, “It’s A Small World.”
Another great around-the-world book is Where Would Santa Go?: A Christmas Adventure with the Most Famous World Traveler by Julia Inserro. Join Santa as he takes his magical sleigh to his favorite places across the globe—from Antarctica, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Nepal, and more! A classic book to add to your Christmas collection.
It’s great to expose your children to different cultures, ideas, traditions, and customs. Spend some time reading aloud together this holiday season, traveling through these stories, and discovering all the Christmas magic around the world.