Home Book Collections How We Are Connected – Interfaith Books For the Winter Solstice

How We Are Connected – Interfaith Books For the Winter Solstice

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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

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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


First Light, First Life

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?)

The Way To Start A Day

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.

Greet The Dawn

Recommended for ages 6+

As always, Nelson’s illustrations are gorgeous,but this is one in his collection with zero story to engage little kids, and it’s a bit too poetic to hold the 5-year-old’s attention
So instead, we gaze at the pictures and discuss the intent – recognition of morning as a unique time of renewal. How humans are not in entitled dominion over, but rather – in partnership with the sun, sky, and animals, and how we are all interdependent upon each other.

When God Made Light

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.

Baby Loves Thermodynamics**

Recommended for ages 3+

** The title is a bit of a misnomer, not having much to do with thermodynamics and heat transfer so much as energy transfer.
And for those who want to tie in faith with more concrete facts: Not what we believe about light and energy, but what exactly is going on, how our physical body and senses gather that data to we use to create a deeper meaning.
A caveat before you dig in (as if the mistake in the title isn’t enough to clue you in): Don’t shove crap like this down your kid’s throat if they aren’t already open or interested in the topic. Your preschooler doesn’t need a phD in physics.
Many children’s book authors who fall prey to believing the media children consume doesn’t have to be held to a particularly high standard. This industry is rampant with childism! Spiro does like the most bare minimal research into the sciences she writes about. The series is rife with errors, misnomers, and misunderstandings.
Let’s just be frank about these kinds of board books – they’re cash grab books for Instagram families & parent bloggers who want to show off how hard they can parent their babies.
Good grief. Slow down. Raising humans doesn’t have to be a competitive spectator sport.
However – when I need illustrations and a tangible thing to hold while we dig into the Earthquakes’ questions about the universe, these can be handy. The illustrations hold little kids’ attention, and I use Chan’s illustrations to facilitate our discussions on the natural world and how humans study it.

Winter Candle

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.

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Celebrations of light:


More book collections:

Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and Greet the Sun

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