Engaging Winter Holiday Children’s Books

Literacy-based therapy is one of the most effective therapeutic methods for building communication, language, and literacy skills. Speech-language pathologists can incorporate these children’s holiday and winter-themed books to assist children in practicing articulation techniques and language skills to promote increased listening comprehension, oral language, semantic knowledge/usage, and syntactic knowledge/usage.

Many children are excited during the holiday season and anticipate Christmas, Hanukkah, and spending time with their family and friends. December is an excellent time to discuss themes of family, community, and traditions. Every culture has unique celebrations and holidays. Many people of similar cultures share the same beliefs, values, and traditions, while there are differences. This is what makes people, families, and cultures interesting and unique. Kids enjoy sharing about their own culture and learning about other cultures during practical speech language and literacy lessons. It’s a great way to practice functional communication, language, comprehension, recall of information, and speech-language pathologists can guide kids through oral discussion. There are so many book choices that may be used during speech/language therapy during the winter holiday season. Each year, it is a good idea to make a deliberate effort to add new books and activities to build essential speech, language, and literacy skills.

These winter holiday book recommendations can help motivate children to continue increasing their literacy skills while enhancing their expressive and receptive language abilities. Not only can these books be utilized for speech/language therapy, but they can also be read at home and in the classroom.

When the speech/language pathologist reads aloud the books, she or he provides a verbal model of correct speech articulation. Children may also be provided the opportunity to read the books aloud and the therapist can remind them to use their articulation and phonological techniques to produce correct sound targets. Books are an excellent tool with embedded word targets for a child who presents with a speech sound disorder with particular phonemes or patterns of phonological processes.

Receptive language skills can be improved by asking literal and inferential questions regarding the story’s characters, sequence of events, themes, predictions, etc. The speech-language pathologist can facilitate oral discussion with children about the story. Kids can verbally discuss what they enjoyed about the story.

These books inspire children throughout the holiday season and bring joy during the holidays. Speech/language pathologists, educators, and families can use the following books meaningfully to build essential communication, language, and literacy skills.

Mooseltoe by Margi Palatini

This story is ideal for preschool-aged and early elementary school-aged children in grades K-2. It is told in a singsong rhythm about a Moose who expects a perfect Christmas. The main character goes along with all the various tasks to get ready for the holiday such as baking, decorating, and shopping. With all the chores that must be done, the Moose forgets to buy the main holiday decoration, a Christmas tree. After a long search on a snowy Christmas Eve, the Moose decides to become the Christmas tree himself to celebrate the holiday spirit despite the circumstances that occur. His moose children eagerly decorate him instead of the actual tree. This book highlights a positive, fun, and joyful theme of Christmas even when one is placed in an unexpected situation.

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

Gingerbread Baby is an excellent book for children in grades K-3 to experience a story from a different culture. The story is set in a long-ago village in Switzerland. The main character Matti loves gingerbread cookies like many children do today. He pulls out a cookbook and bakes this delicious treat. The gingerbread cookie or gingerbread baby magically comes alive and escapes from the oven in the spirit of adventure. What happens next? Matti, his family, and the villagers join the chase for the delicious gingerbread baby. This is a unique story that promotes imagination and humor throughout the journey. Speech/language therapists and educators can use this when working with children. It is a wonderful story that could be read during family time before making a tasty Gingerbread House with favorite candy selections!

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin

Children absolutely love the Pete the Cat series of books and this one is no exception. In the story, Pete the Cat is having a great time in Key West, Florida when he gets an important phone call from Santa. Santa cannot do everything by himself especially when he is sick. We all need help at times. He urgently needs Pete the Cat’s assistance to save Christmas by delivering presents with a team of reindeer. How will he get to the North Pole? Will he use Santa’s sleigh? This book promotes teamwork, conquering obstacles, and promoting the holiday spirit.

Soulful Holidays by Ciara Hill

Soulful Holidays is a warm-hearted story about an African American family gathering to celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa. It will remind listeners and readers to treasure simple moments and traditions at home with family. The story invites us to experience African American culture and a soulful and happy holiday of a family. This book is ideal for preschool-aged and elementary school children in grades K-2. During speech/language therapy, you can facilitate oral discussion about family traditions, the characters’ traits, and recall of information. Did you know that Kwanzaa begins the day after Christmas and lasts for several days (December 26-January 1st)? There are seven principles. Umoja or Unity is the first principle which is “To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.” Families light candles on a Kinara and have a large family dinner or Karamu on the last evening. This is a newly published book by award winning author and therapist, Ciara L. Hill.

The Story of Hanukkah by David Adler

This is an excellent book to use at home during family literacy time to learn about a different culture and winter holiday. Children and families will learn the significance of Hanukkah, which is also known as the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication. Children can practice recalling information about the setting of the story, Israel and the characters in the story, the Jewish people, Greek King Antiochus IV, and more. They will learn about Shabbat and a battle between the Maccabees and the Greek army. After the battle, the Jewish people rebuilt the destroyed temple and rededicated the special temple. Hanukkah means dedication and signifies when the temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. Two thousand years later, Hanukkah continues and is celebrated throughout the world. Families gather for eight days and light one candle on a Menorah. Some families prepare a special dinner and exchange gifts in celebration of the long ago Miracle of the Oil, in which there was one day’s amount of oil to light candles in the temple that actually lasted for eight days instead. Did you know that the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem, Israel during the winter season prior to this battle between the Maccabees and the Greeks? This book is purposefully written by author, David author to document the historical significance of Hanukkah.

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

Caralyn Buehner skillfully creates captivating children’s stories for young listeners and readers. Year after year, many children love the Snowmen series of her books. In this story, the snowmen during Christmas Eve awaken the celebration outside on a snowy, winter day. All the snow families gather around the town square for a night of fun with dancing and singing holiday songs. The book brings alive the magic of Christmas with the arrival of a special visitor, Santa Clause. Kids love to have fun, laugh, and look forward to special events during the holidays. This book transports the minds of readers and listeners so they can experience the joy that Christmas brings to many around the world. This book is ideal for toddlers, preschoolers, and children in grades K-2.