non-traditional holiday books to expand your Santa and Jesus centered libraries

The winter holiday season can be such a special time for many families, but can be tricky or even isolating for others. It depends what your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) is, what your own childhood was like, and so many more factors that come into play this time of year. I was raised in a Christian faith (Catholic) but my husband and I have chosen not to raise our kids in a religious household, preferring instead a spiritual path of kindness, love, nature, and being a good human without the religiously institutionalized rules. In truth, we’re agnostics who want to raise good humans to learn about every religion and way of thinking and make their own decisions about what their heart tells them is true and to be more accepting of all people than we often see (or saw growing up) in some religious communities. Don’t get me wrong — I think there is so much that is wonderful about the community you find at church, the lovely rituals and traditions, and the overall idea behind Christianity. But much of the rules and teachings aren’t something that align with our personal social values or what feels right in our hearts as what is right for our family (but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right for yours and we respect that too!). So Christmas can be tricky for us, because we don’t celebrate it as Christians. Instead, we use it as a time to talk about giving and service to others, slowing down and spending time with family, and as a teaching tool to learn about what it means to others. But I still like to incorporate Christmas traditions that my husband and I both had growing up (Santa, a Christmas tree, an advent calendar with service projects and family fun activities, etc) into our own family celebration.

Because we don’t default to the Nativity/Jesus’s birthday story, I like to find books that we can read as a family to explain both that concept as well as other religious celebrations like Hanukkah, Kwanza, Diwali, as well as things like the winter solstice. I thought I would share some books that we love (or that are in my cart right now to add to our library this year) that share a variety of stories, a diverse look at the winter holidays, and that give you more than just Jesus and Santa (although they are included too). Some of our more “traditional” favorites are pictured above as well, but I think many of those are well-known and in many of your holiday libraries already. I hope some of the recs below introduce you to a new story that your family will love:

What are your favorite holiday books, traditional, religious, or more inclusive of all celebrations? We love adding to our library. Do you have any of these books? Do you do alternative Christmas or winter holiday celebrations? I’d love to hear about all of your experiences!


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