15 Picture Books for the Holiday Season

Three Wise Men

One dark like me

Part of His


Award-winning artist, Ashley Bryan provided rich and brilliant illustrations to complement several of Langston Hughes’ Christmas poems presented in Carol of the Brown King: Nativity Poems. The School Library Journal wrote that the book was “a gift to enhance any Christmas collection.” The featured list of holiday books include Christmas and Kwanzaa titles. There’s even a book celebrating New Year’s Day, Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas. In addition to Hughes, some of the other authors are Maya Angelou, Mariah Carey, and Nikki Grimes. Hopefully these books will become seasonal favorites during this time of peace, joy, and goodwill. For more holiday books see our Genres, Themes, and…category page. Happy Holidays!

Ballet Kitty: Christmas Recital – Bernette Ford      

It’s Christmas—and for Ballet Kitty, that means The Nutcracker! She’s going to perform the Sugar Plum Fairy, her favorite role from the ballet, at a real recital. Kitty’s so excited she can hardly wait. But when her very best friend wants to dance the same solo, suddenly the show isn’t fun anymore. This charming tale of friendship, ballet, and the thrill of being onstage will enchant little ballerinas everywhere.

Under the Christmas Tree – Nikki Grimes

Twenty-three holiday offerings from Coretta Scott King Award-winning poet Nikki Grimes showcase many facets of Christmastime. From neighborhood kids who only need an icy patch and trash-can lid to have fun, to a family grate-fully sitting down to holiday dinner with all the trimmings, to Rhythm Brown-the blind sax-man who plays “Silent Night” as if he witnessed the first Christmas in Bethlehem-Nikki Grimes revels in the sights, sounds, and feelings that make the season so special. Kadir Nelson provides the perfect counterpoint to each poem with a radiant, revealing painting.

An Island Christmas – Lynn Joseph 

Rosie’s preparations for Christmas on the island of Trinidad include picking red petals for the sorrel drink, and singing along with the parang band.

All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You, one of the bestselling and most beloved songs of all time, brings Christmas joy to countless listeners of all ages every year. And now its classic lyrics will bring that same holiday spirit to readers of all ages in this one-of-a-kind picture book about a young girl whose greatest Christmas wish is for a new puppy! 

Carol of the Brown King: Nativity Poems – Langston Hughes 

The wonder of Christmas never ceases. Each year the holiday comes and its story seems fresh and new. The ways of telling about the very first Christmas are as many and as varied as the stars in the sky. And so it was for Langston Hughes, who recounted those long-ago events in six different ways — in live poems he wrote and in one he translated from the Spanish. In this memorable book, these six poems are simply and movingly illustrated by Ashley Bryan. 

Christmas Makes Me Think – Tony Medina

The young narrator of Christmas Makes Me Think is thrilled with the holiday’s prospects: the presents he’s wishing for, the big tree he’s hoping to get, the cake he’ll bake with his grandmother. But he begins to wonder. What about the people who don’t get presents, or don’t even have a place to live? He soon realizes that he can make a difference by giving some of his presents to kids who have none. 

Grandma’s Gift – Eric Velasquez 

After they prepare their traditional Puerto Rican Christmas celebration, Eric and Grandma visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a school project, where he sees a painting by Diego Velasquez and realizes for the first time that he could be an artist when he grows up. Grandma witnesses his fascination, and presents Eric with the perfect Christmas gift-a set of paints-to use in his first steps toward becoming an artist.

Jackie’s Gift – Sharon Robinson 

Young Steve Satlow is thrilled when his hero Jackie Robinson moves onto his block. After the famed second baseman invites Steve to a Dodgers game, the two become friends. So when Jackie hears that the Satlows don’t have a Christmas tree, he decides to give them one, not realizing the Satlows are Jewish. But Jackie’s gift helps these two different families discover how much they have in common.

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem – Maya Angelou

Angelou’s beautiful, moving, and beloved poem, which she first read at the 2005 White House tree-lighting ceremony, now comes alive as a fully illustrated children’s book, celebrating the promise of peace in the holiday season. In this simple story, a family joins with their community—rich and poor, black and white, Christian, Muslim, and Jew—to celebrate the holidays. 

Christmas Soul: African American Holiday Stories – Allison Samuels 

In this collection of poignant and witty original stories, African American celebrities recount their favorite childhood Christmas memories. Accompanied by evocative oil paintings, these stories will illuminate the holidays for years to come. 

K Is For Kwanzaa – Juwanda Ford 

A unique alphabet book and a wonderful introduction to the African-American holiday.

Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa – Donna L. Washington 

Li’l Rabbit is not having a very good Kwanzaa. Granna Rabbit is sick, and so his family won’t celebrate his favorite part of Kwanzaa this year: a big feast called Karamu. Li’l Rabbit knows what to do! He’ll find Granna Rabbit a special treat for Karamu so she can celebrate anyway…Inspired by Brer Rabbit, a trickster character from the African-American folklore tradition, the story of Li’l Rabbit captures the true meaning of Kwanzaa—coming together to help others.

The Sound Of Kwanzaa – Dimitrea Tokunbo 

Hear the words, sing the songs, dance to the beat, and shout “Harambee!” as you jump into this joyful celebration of the sounds of Kwanzaa!Lively verse and colorful illustrations guide you through the seven principles of this festive holiday. All you have to do is come close, gather round, and discover what Kwanzaa is all about!

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story – Angela Shelf Medearis 

In an African village live seven brothers who make life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread or they will be turned out as beggars.

Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas – Gail Piernas-Davenport

Shanté Keys loves New Year’s Day! But while Grandma fixed chitlins, baked ham, greens, and cornbread, she forgot the black-eyed peas! Oh no–it’ll be bad luck without them! So Shanté sets out to borrow some from the neighbors.

Black Children’s Books and Authors DOES NOT review books, the mission of our organization is to promote awareness of Black authors of children’s and young adult literature. Summaries and reviews—for most of the books—can be found by clicking on the links.

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