There’s never a bad time to share a book with your little one. But the holidays provide a special opportunity to connect with family members through books that celebrate traditions.
Check out this collection of stories that celebrate the many ways you can build traditions with your child all year long. Find some quiet time away from the holiday hubbub, curl up, and enjoy!
Birth to 18 Months
Young toddlers are just beginning to understand the order of a typical day: naptime follows lunch, night-time follows day. At this stage, your child will enjoy focusing on things babies do all day, such as the activities captured in simple board books like Helen Oxenbury’s Playing and Helping, or the routines described in Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown or Time for Bed by Mem Fox. Next year, your little one will be ready to read about the family traditions described below.
18 months to 3 years
Bee-Bim Bop! By Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee.
Bouncy rhymes and adorable illustrations will leave you “hungry hungry hungry for some BEE-BIM BOP,” a traditional Korean dish of rice mixed with meat and vegetables. This colorful story shows all the steps from shopping to eating together.
Cook It! by Georgie Birkett.
Dad makes pizza, and his young daughter assists from start to finish. Detailed illustrations and minimal text invite conversation about what’s happening on the page.
Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino.
Every Friday, rain or shine, a boy and his father have breakfast together at the diner. Getting there, and greeting everyone they see on the way, is half the fun.
Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning.
Two children wake up to the sounds of clattering dishes, laughter, and music coming from the kitchen. They tiptoe downstairs to join their parents in a dance that’s “a circle of family” and ends in a lullaby. Good bedtime reading.
Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough.
Marigold the cat leads an orderly life, and Monday is baking day. All goes according to plan until he’s joined by a pigeon, a finch, and a loon who turn his kitchen into chaos.
Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai.
While Mom heads to work, father and son head to the garden to harvest ingredients for … pizza!
Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray and Lauren Stringer.
What can you do on a rainy day? You can smell the rain, draw your favorite things, splash in puddles, and more! Vivid illustrations show the world from a variety of perspectives.
Soup Day by Melissa Iwai.
Mom and daughter shop together, chop together, and enjoy the soup they make together. This simple story features colors, shapes, numbers, and the warmth of family life.
To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure
With beautiful cut-paper illustrations, this book is a poetic celebration of a mother and son’s weekly visit to a bustling farmers’ market: “Today is Market Day. We hear the bell ringing. Everyone is gathering. The whole town is here.”
Yes Day! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld.
The young narrator knows that often parents say “no” or “not today.” But everything changes on “Yes Day,” when no request is too silly.
3 to 5 years
Bigmama’s by Donald Crews.
A young boy and his family travel south each summer to visit his grandparents, Bigmama and Bigpapa. Everything is always exactly the same, from the train conductor’s corny jokes to the shared meals with the whole family.
Bippity Bop Barber Shop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E.B. Lewis.
It’s a big day: Miles’ first grown-up haircut at a real barbershop. There are men playing checkers, watching basketball, and offering encouragement. The clippers are scary, but Daddy’s there to show the way.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr.
It’s a cold winter night, long past bedtime, and a little girl and her Pa take a walk in snowy woods “as quiet as a dream.”
The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Rashka.
Visits to Nanna and Poppy’s house are special treats, and they start and end at the kitchen window.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell.
This book captures the poignant details of a summer road trip to visit relatives—the 4 a.m. departure and the “strange houses and different mountains” along the way—as well as the pleasures of time spent together.
This Is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson and James Ransome.
It’s been many years since the narrator’s grandparents made the long trip from South Carolina to Brooklyn, N.Y. The rope used for generations—to tie luggage to the car, hang baby diapers, make friends on the playground—helps them remember the many steps in their journey.
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco.
The author’s grandmother finds a way to make scary things bearable—a pecking hen, a kicking cow, and an approaching thunderstorm—as they bake a cake together.