Sharing this post on social media? Use this description to make it accessible: [Image description: Illustration from ‘Greet the Dawn,’ by S.D. Nelson. A group of people greet the rising sun with upturned faces]
Interfaith Winter Solstice Books For Inclusive Kiddos
Recommended for ages 2-8
You access these articles freely – in our community, we contribute through an honor system to keep resources free for those who can’t afford a paywall. If able, maintain this gift to others by joining our Patreon community.
Posts may contain affiliate links, which allow me to earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Check out the full affiliate disclosure along with my statement of accountability to see how I experiment with supporting my family without exploiting our community.
Every religion (and every human) has a relationship with light.
We’ve been using interfaith stories to understand, respect, and find what we have in common with people of faith around the world. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to examine how each faith understands their connection with the earth, and the regular events that occur as a byproduct of spinning through space – seasons, solstices, stuff like that.
For kids learning about faith from secular family, we use pay attention to common themes and practices across all religions. Light / sun / fire is a standard go-to around the world, particularly in those darkest months of the winter solstice.
When we discuss faith – I stress to the Earthquakes that there is no particular perspective as fact. It’s hard to swallow for us as atheist/agnostics – but I stress to my kids that there can be cold, hard, scientific facts, cosmologies that directly contradict them, and we have to accept both as a person’s truth.
Beginner Books On Holding Space for Conflicting Beliefs
Best for ages 6+
First Light, First Life connection religious practices from around the world in creation stories that center on the sun. This works well even for us science geeks, since life on earth unarguably DOES hinge on the sun providing us with energy. The reason I kick off with this one is that it holds contrasting and parallel ideologies as equal, from Indigenous cultures all around the world.
This is surface-level stuff, with a maker trying to pull together our commonalities and respect our differences in harmony, without judgement. But also with a fair amount of typical errors (like mis-attributing one Indigenous American nation’s beliefs as a global pan-native thing.)
So, as with all compilation-style books like this, use this didactic, nonfiction book as a jumping off point, rather than a go-to textbook.
Another, rather gorgeously illustrated compilation ALSO lacking a story,* Celebrations of Light includes Gregorian New Year’s, the Lunar New Year (implies it’s only celebrated in Taiwan and China, which is untrue), Lanterns & Ramadan, Lichtmesdag, Buddha’s Birthday, Bon Matsuri, Diwali, Loy Krathong, Hanukkah, Luciadagen, Christmas & Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, and Candelmas.
*(Is it too much to ask to engage kids instead of just dumping facts on their heads?)
Recommended for ages 4.5+
Kids grow up, stages end, and good and bad things will happen.
But how awesome is it that we get to be here now, welcoming a new day and the opportunity it brings?
How awesome is it that no matter what yesterday was like, we get to remember the good stuff and wake up for another chance to try again?
The Way To Start A Day is mindful guide on gratitude practices to greet a new day around the world, with an emphasis on nations within the Southwest plains of Turtle Island. While it’s not specific to the territory currently called the US, the illustrations intertwine Indigenous people from around the planet – and points out the connection between the rising of the sun and how we approach each new day. I really liked this one.
Recommended for ages 6+
Recommended for ages 5.5+
When God Made Light is the most blatantly religious of the collection, as it’s written for ex-fundamentalist Christians, and maintains the presumption that creation is intentionally designed by an intelligent god.
As atheist/agnostics, our family approaches this in a complicated way. Some folks believe in a conscious god. We don’t. Who is right? Both! Cause it’s important to start those little brains young on realizing that there is no objective truth when it comes to belief.
Raised in an abusive fundamentalist Christian home, Turner created this progressive Christian series as an exercise in trauma mastery – to dismantle the more toxic aspects of fundamentalism, while also holding onto the good stuff that Jesus said before Christianity got all political – you an unconditionally valuable part of the universe.
The book is supposed to be for preschoolers, but like the others, there’s no story, and the flowery language goes right over the Earthquakes heads: “Now, when God made light, God made all different kinds. Some sparkles, some flares, but all light shines. It flashes in bolts when lightning is crashing or bursts through the sky when a comet is dashing.”
So I’d save it for older kids – both so they have a chance to think critically about intelligent design without us that assumption down their throats as fact – but also because the language is just tought to parse, particularly for literal thinkers.
Recommended for ages 3+
This one is out of print, but not worth the price tag of a rare book – so grab it at the library if yours has a copy.
A candle gets passed to different neighbors – from a woman celebrating US thanksgiving, to a Havdalah candle for Shabbat, to a St Lucia crown, to a kinara candle for Kwanzaa. It’s really a story so much as families realizing they don’t have the candle they need and building community by asking for help from neighbors.
It’s very sweet and makes a good intro book if you have it around – but won’t provide any background on what all these traditions are and why folks celebrate them.
More book collections:
- Kids books about courageous generosity
- Books For Littles Winter Favorites
- Transformative Kids Stories To Kick Off Your New Years
- Cozy Kid’s Books To Warm Up Your Winter
- Decolonizing Thanksgiving Is An Oxymoron – Kids Books Dismantling The Myth of a ‘First Thanksgiving’
- Kids Books About Radical Interdependence: The Kindness of Giving, Taking, and Asking
Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and Greet the Sun
I you find my shenanigans helpful and want to keep this website free & accessible for all – join our Patreon community. We’re using the honor system – I create stuff for the world, and some of you help me feed my my kids. So contribute $15, $5, or even just $1 if you can!
But if your resources are limited – first join me in supporting Campaign Zero, providing communities with alternatives to police violence to create a more just and equitable society.