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Lighting the Lights

Around the world in the northern hemisphere, festivals mark the darkest time of the year. Celebrating the victory of light over darkness, candles are lit on trees, and in windows, menorahs, and kinaras; lamps, lanterns, and strings of lights glow.

Here are a selection of BIPOC titles from our collection about celebrations of light in winter, a great way to introduce children to our marvelous human differences and our shared commonalities.

The Divali story

2018

by Anita Ganeri and Carole Gray

Anita Ganeri retells the traditional stories of world religion festivals with her usual sensitivity and gift for drawing children into the narrative. Exquisite watercolour illustrations breath warmth and life into the story. Suggestions for activities are included in every book, as well as special recipes that children will enjoy trying out. The Hindu festival of Divali celebrates the goddess Lakshmi and the victory of good over evil and light over darkness and is celebrated in October.

Beautiful Life

Coming Soon

Lights of Winter by Heather Conrad and deForest Walker (2013)

A children’s picture book about winter celebrations around the world: Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Teng Chieh, Diwali, Soyal, Las Posadas, Zagmuk, Saturnalia. -- publisher


Coming Soon

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis (2019)

As the sun set on the shortest day of the year, early people would gather to prepare for the long night ahead. They built fires and lit candles. They played music, bringing their own light to the darkness, while wondering if the sun would ever rise again. -- publisher


There are many other celebrations of light at the time of darkness — the Persian festival of Yalda or the Chinese holiday of Dongzhi, for instance — that don’t yet appear in children’s literature. Many tribal communities mark the winter solstice with traditional ceremonies and games, but we haven’t been able to find any picture books about these indigenous observances. Publishers, take note!

Many of the cover images on this site are from Google Books.
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