Pictures books can play a huge part in any child’s journey within the literary world. If you were a picture book lover like me, you could never get enough of them. However, a fatal negative side of my childhood bookshelf was the lack of representation. There are hundreds of picture books with POC characters, but the problem is they don’t get recognized. As of 2022, we as a society can fully understand that this is an issue that should be solved, so here’s a list of 8 Christmas themed picture books with people from different cultures!
1. Santa in the City by Tiffany D. Jackson
Our first picture book is Santa in the City. Deja is concerned that Santa Claus won’t be able to find her in a highly populated city in New York. Can Santa come to her house without a chimney or a place to park his reindeers?! Never fear, because Christmas is what you make of it, so with the help from her community and Santa himself– she can fully understand that her city is full of Christmas spirit.
2. The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow
We all know and love The Nutcracker’s original story, so seeing this classic tale with a Harlem twist would be a great treat. In this retelling, we are in New York City during the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Enjoy jazzy music in this one!
3. Does Santa Look Like Me? by Ariel Young
As a POC, I felt lonely sometimes because I felt out of place with my skin tone and hair texture. Our boy AJ may feel the same way during Christmas. As he ventures to the toy aisle, he realizes all the Santa Claus decorations don’t look like him, and when AJ meets Saint Nick, he still feels this disconnection. Why does Santa not look like me? This children’s book is made to signify the importance of the positive representation of popular characters like Santa Claus.
4. Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano
Let’s switch gears to something more fun and amusing! In Miracle on 133rd Street, Jose and his Papa need an oven that’ll be big enough to cook Mami’s roast. As they go out to town, they realize no one else is in the Christmas Spirit. So, Jose and his Papa make it their mission to bring Christmas to their neighborhood! The simplest thing is the smell of Christmas dinner. It makes the world a warmer place!
5. Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez
In Latinx culture, it’s customary to celebrate on Christmas Eve with Tamales. So carry this tradition when you read Too Many Tamales! Maria’s Christmas Eve starts out amazing because the snow is beginning to collect, and her family is coming over. Everything turns upside down when she makes a grave mistake and tries on her mother’s diamond ring. Can Tamales fix the problem?!
6. In the Snow by Huy Voun Lee
Snowy nights have been and will always be associated with Christmas time. Enjoy the beautiful artwork as you and the young son learn ten new Chinese characters. A mom uses snow as a canvas and a fallen branch as a brush to explain how Chinese writing works. It’s like drawing pictures.
7. Ming’s Christmas Wishes by Susan L. Gong
Ming has only three Christmas wishes. First, she wants to sing in her school choir. Second, she wants a magnificent Christmas tree like at the department store. Her third wish is a little harder to get. She wants to belong somewhere.
Ming is a daughter from an immigrant family, so she is often treated differently than the other kids at school. She’s not invited in the choir, nor is she allowed her tree because her mother scolds her for trying to be ‘too American.’ Ming’s too Chinese at school, yet she’s too American at home. She can’t win! When Pop notices Ming’s unhappiness, he decides to do something. He takes her into the mountains to bring her closer to her heritage by drawing strength from nature.
8. Tree of Cranes by Allen Say
Let’s end this list with something calming and relatable. A young Japanese boy recovers from a bad cold. One way or another, you’re bound to catch the winter bug! His mother begins to work on folding origami paper into delicate silver cranes to commemorate her baby’s first Christmas.
Can’t you see the beauty within diverse Christmas stories? Pick a few books for your little ones this Christmas, so they can learn a thing or two they didn’t know before.
Click here for more picture book recommendations!