Book Corner – December 2023

The Night Before Kwanzaa

By Natasha Wing
Illustrated by  Amy Wummer and Kirsti Jewel
Pre-kindergarten - Grade 2 

A young boy is excited for the arrival of his older brother. He is looking forward to celebrating Kwanzaa with him and the rest of their family. As a candle is lit on the Kinara each night, simple (yet heartwarming) illustrations depict the accompanying seven principles of Kwanzaa.

There is a familiarity in this sweet book as it may remind older readers of “The Night Before Christmas” - one of the most well-known poems about the holiday.

This is a recommended read for multicultural families as it blends an old tradition (reading the old poem) with new ones (celebrating the principles of Kwanzaa).

Books for Transracial Families

Book Recommendations for Families Created in Transracial Adoption

The Book Corner is a regular feature in our Transracial Journeys monthly newsletters. If you would like to receive monthly book recommendations via email, please subscribe.

December – Reflections: Evolving Traditions 

The December holidays give us an opportunity to think about traditions tied to different cultures and religions. Regardless of what you and your family honor and celebrate, we can be inspired to take a closer look at what traditions mean to us and how we can expand our thinking and actions.

Read some of our previous December posts from over the years to help guide you and your family through the ideas of evolving traditions:

December Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions

At Transracial Journeys we send out cues for conversations each month. Our Transracial Journeys card deck contains 3 cards for each month that the children use to ask their parents questions. Below are the questions for December. Before getting started, read the parent pro-tip each month.

December Pro-Tip for Parents: Resist the urge to hold tight onto traditions that may be holding you back from fully embracing new ideas that may better honor your child’s culture. Also think about simplifying or modifying some of the traditions you now honor to make room for new ones.

• As a kid, did you celebrate any December holidays?
• If so, which ones?

• Were there things that you would do year after year as a family during the month of December or maybe other months of the year?

• What are some new traditions or holidays you’d like to learn more about and/or try?

This post is from our December, 2023, e-newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, please subscribe.

Creating New Traditions to Reflect Our Families and Celebrate Their Identities

author: Avril McInally

For many of us, holidays can be a combination of many emotions and elements. Do we have all the candles we need for our Menorah or for our Kinara? Have we gotten our holiday lights and decorations up? How are we managing our budgets? Is the house tidy and clean enough for our house guests? Do we have enough food? Speaking of food, what about those special recipes we need to prepare? Do we have all of the proper ingredients? And the gifts? Did we purchase enough gifts to make sure no one is left out or one child gets more than another? These are the scenarios for many families at Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or Yule, yet what of our families? Our families manage these aforementioned holiday traditions of hosting, eating and gifting as well as creating space for our adopted children, their race, the family they were born into, their culture, their religion and more!Read our previous post: ‘Tis the Season to Reminiscence

Because our families represent multiple aspects of identity, heritage, and culture, we visit the idea or concept of intersectionality. Some intersectionalities that help to describe our families include race, gender, sexuality, adoption, age and religion. We have several aspects of intersectionality to honor, celebrate, foster and sometimes protect. There’s a little more “juggling” for us to do to manage these precious aspects of our children’s and family’s identities. One way to celebrate “us” is to create new traditions that reflect our families and honor their identities. Read our post about the conversation cards this month December - Reflections: Making and Breaking Traditions 

Traditions can be a way for families to connect and memorialize important life events. To adoptive families, creating traditions is more than a way to bond, but it can also be a great way to commemorate each family member’s roots. By incorporating activities that celebrate birth culture, adopted children can develop a strong sense of identity.

This year, I’m going to work on creating a holiday card for our family with my family. I’ll make a list of our intersectionalities with my adult daughters. Black, White, Adopted, Not Adopted, Atheist, Immigrant, American, Cisgender, Female, Male….. You get the picture. Then, we’ll draw a Venn diagram of our family’s identity and decorate it. Heck yeah, “This is Us”! This is who we are with some holly on top! This could be a new holiday tradition for us. If you start this tradition now with young children, you can save your cards every year and watch how your lists morph or mature.

In addition to creating and honoring traditions, it’s important to make time to honor our extended family of adoption as we gather to eat a special meal, to light a candle, to build a fire on one of the longest nights of the year or simply when we tuck our children into bed at night. Remember it’s important to honor and/or acknowledge the family members absent from your home. It’s the “most wonderful time of the year,” yet at the height of festivities and anniversaries, our children may be experiencing loss and sadness. Make space for children who are processing these emotions and thoughts and love on ‘em a little more and give them space to talk about their feelings. And last but not least, you may also have emotions surrounding losses or complexities that can come up as well.  Building a tradition of inclusion, empathy and love starts with tending to ourselves!

This post is from our December, 2022, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, please subscribe.

Book Corner – December 2022


Happy All-Idays:

By Cindy Jin, illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr.

“We all celebrate the season in our own special way.
Let’s look at how families prepare for each holiday.”

With a double-page spread for each holiday, this inclusive book shows families enjoying Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Chrismukkah.  Ending with Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year, Happy All-Idays is a celebration for everyone.

A Christmas Adventure

By Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Allison Black

On Christmas Eve two brown children are invited on an enchanting adventure.  They ride on a dog sled through the forest and across the ice to Santa’s workshop, where they meet a diverse group of elves who are baking, making toys, singing, wrapping, and more.  Children will love lifting the flaps, turning the shaped pages, and finding all the magical details in this fun book.

S is for Santa:
A Christmas Alphabet

By Greg Paprocki

From A is for Angel and B is for Baking, to Y is for Yummy and Z is for Zephyr (a toy train), this book is an alphabet of holiday fun.  The illustrations have an old-timey feel, but are delightfully populated with people of every hue.  A joyful depiction of Caroling, Ice Skating, Mistletoe, Volunteering, and more.


The Christmas Book Flood

By Emily Kilgore, illustrated by Kitty Moss

This beautifully illustrated book is based on a real tradition in Iceland.  Each year people give books as gifts on Christmas Eve, and the recipients spend the night reading.  They snuggle under blankets, eat chocolate bars, and drink hot cocoa.  The lovely art in this book depicts all kinds of people searching for just the right books for their loved ones, gifting them, and reading together. The wonderful tradition of Book Flood is starting to spread around the world.  Reading this book together would be a great way to introduce it to your family and friends!

The Christmas Pine

By Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Victoria Sandoy

This lovely book also celebrates a wonderful tradition.  Every year Norway sends a spectacular Christmas tree to England as a symbol of peace and friendship.  Each year a poem is written to welcome the tree to London.  The Christmas Pine is the poem that was written for the 202o tree.  The touching text and illustrations show the tree’s journey from the forest to the ocean to Trafalgar Square.  There are happy diverse groups of people on both ends of the journey. A sweet book for family sharing around the Christmas tree.

The Hanukkah Hunt (Ruby Celebrates!)

By Laura Gehl, illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov

Avital is sad because her mom will be far away during Hanukkah.  Cousin Ruby plans a treasure hunt to cheer Avital up.  Each night of Hanukkah there is a rhyming clue, which leads to a fun surprise.  The final clue leads to the best surprise of all – Mom is back in time to celebrate the last day of the holiday.  This story of a loving multi-racial family is followed by an explanation of Hanukkah and directions for playing Dreidel. 


My Family Celebrates Kwanzaa

By Lisa Bullard, illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo

Kevin and his mom get the table ready for Kwanzaa, and then the celebration begins.  They light a candle each night, talk about the Seven Principles, and have a party.  Readers will learn about Kwanzaa as they enjoy the holiday with Kevin and his family.

Kwanzaa, How to Celebrate it in Your Home

by Kathleen Minnick-Taylor, illustrated by Charles Taylor II

Kwanzaa is an African American cultural holiday that began in 1966.  This book is an accessible and handy guide to celebrating the seven principles of the holiday.  For those of us who attended camp in 2022, this is the guide we used to celebrate Kwanzaa at our dinner times.

Book Recommendations for Families Created in Transracial Adoption

Our Transracial Journeys families regularly seek out books to share with their children and to read for themselves, as white parents of black children. We are fortunate to have a resource in the Transracial Journey's Board of Direcors Secretary, Avril McInally. With a Master of Library Science from Kent State University and over 35 years as a public librarian, Avril and her colleague, Vicki Richards, collaborate to curate phenomenal book recommendations for our children and parents.   The Book Corner is a regular feature in our Transracial Journeys monthly newsletters. If you would like to receive monthly book recommendations via email, please subscribe.