Early Elementary Books

Theme: Holidays and Celebrations

Bon Odori Dancer - (ISBN: 187996516X )

by Karen Kawamoto McCoy

Obon is the Japanese Day of the Dead, and Keiko wants to join the traditional dancers who help memorialize their ancestors. Despite her clumsiness, she manages to learn about the holiday and enjoy its traditions with her family.

Christmas in the Trenches - (ISBN: 1561453749 )

by John McCutcheon

Grandchildren Thomas and Nora listen to their grandfather’s story about a night during WW II when English and German soldiers held their fire against each other and sang Christmas songs together. Based on a true story, this book communicates how the story of Christmas transcends cultures and wars. Listen to the story being read and sing along the author’s original Christmas song as well as the carol "Silent Night," all found on the accompanying CD.

Dial-a-Ghost - (ISBN: 0142500186 )

by Eva Ibbotson

When a ten-year old orphan inherits a creeky mansion, he encounters hired ghosts sent by his jealous cousins who want to scare him away and inherit the house themselves. The Dial-a-Ghost agency mixes up the order for frightening specters, however, and Oliver the orphan befriends the ghosts and deals with his sneaky relatives. Find out what happens to the unfortunate nuns who end up with the truly evil spirits the cousins intended for Oliver. 

Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale - (ISBN: 1580132294 )

by Brian P. Cleary

The nights of Hanukkah in one household really are wild and crazy as the entire extended family settles down and revs up for more than the normal celebration of this holiday. If your family enjoys laughing at chaos as well as learning about special foods, games, and other traditions for Jewish holiday fun, you’ll love this rhyming, fast-paced version of one family’s slightly insane approach to festivities.

Encounter - (ISBN: 015201389X )

by Jane Yolen

In this imagined account of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in South America and his encounter with the Taino people, a young native boy tells of the reactions of his people to the previously foretold arrival. For a fresh take on Columbus Day, try joining this young story teller as he gently reveals the concerns and eventual acceptance the New World people have toward the European stranger.

Every Day's a Holiday: Amusing Rhymes for Happy Times - (ISBN: 0060085843 )

by Dean Koontz

For a change of pace, try reading some of these short poems about traditional, international, and humorous holidays, some of which the author has created. This is a great book to take out as seasons change and you prepare for holidays throughout the year. A great way to approach poetry and enjoy its humorous and imaginative possibilities!

Frankenturkey - (ISBN: 0061061972 )

by Betsy Haynes

For the very young who enjoy scary and gory tales, try this unusual Thanksgiving tale found in the Bone Chillers series. Plenty of monsters and plot twists keep all readers turning the pages to get to the outcome of this highly non-traditional Thanksgiving feast!

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message - (ISBN: 1880000547 )

by Jake Swamp

Members of the Mohawk nation give thanks by praising Mother Earth, the Great Spirit, and all other natural elements. In expressing great reverence and gratitude for the gifts of the natural world, this book gives us a window into the belief system of this Native American group. The text is also available in Mohawk at the conclusion of the story. Beautiful drawings add to the spiritual effect of this children’s book.

Holi - (ISBN: 0516277642)

by Uma Krishnaswami

This book introduces readers to Holi, the Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. Enjoy sharing the pictures together as you and your child learn about this colorful celebration.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - (ISBN: 0064402754 )

by Barbara Robinson

Join some of “the worst kids ever” as they stage an unpredictable and highly irregular Christmas pageant that somehow communicates the real meaning of the Christmas story. If your children like humor and fun, add this Christmas book to those you read year after year.

April Fool's Day - (ISBN: 0516279424)

by Melissa Schiller

Cinco de Mayo - (ISBN: 0516274899 )

Columbus Day - (ISBN: 0516263102)

by Christina Mia Gardeski

Groundhog Day - (ISBN: 0516279246)

by Michelle Aki Becker

Martin Luther King Jr. Day - (ISBN: 0516271776 )

by David F. Marx

Activities for this Theme

Rent and watch the video The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with your family after you read the book. Talk about how the book and the movie differ.

Enjoy the video Ghost Busters with family and friends.

Make some edible chocolate slime to go with your eyeballs (grapes), dragon’s toes (sliced apples), and monster horns (bananas).

Attend a community or church Christmas pageant with the entire family.

Choose from these many Native American craft projects to complete together at home. 

Play this Around the World Christmas trivia game on your computer.

Print and use these winter bookmarks in books you are reading together as a family.