December is a great time of year for learning about how Christmas is celebrated around the world. Elementary students can learn how Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Sweden celebrate Christmas using this list of Christmas around the world books for kids.
You may also find this comprehensive Christmas around the world unit to be helpful! It is packed with holidays around the world activities, holiday lesson plans, festive holiday crafts from around the world, and more! In addition to exploring all of the holidays celebrated this time of year, it does a deep dive into Christmas around the world for kids. It’s a great way to celebrate a festive time of year in a meaningful and academic way.
Learn more about these quality Christmas around the world books for teaching children about how Christmas is celebrated around the world below!
Christmas Around the World Books
Below are some of my favorite Christmas around the world books to share with elementary students!
Christmas Wombat by Jackie French
The book, Christmas Wombat, is a short and funny Australian story told from the perspective of a wombat. In the book, the wombat is describing his day, almost like a journal. He comes across some carrots and excitedly eats them. However, he sees that there are some strange creatures, Santa’s reindeer, eating his carrots! The wombat continues to follow Santa and the reindeer, eating all of the reindeer’s carrots. He has never seen so many carrots in his life! By the time he returns home is he too full to eat the delicious grass he sees. Students will love this funny story about a wombat that thinks the reindeer’s carrots are for him!
Other Australian Christmas Stories
- Christmas in Kangaroo Land by Adla Hannon
- Kangaroo for Christmas by James Flora
- Wombat Divine by Mem Fox
- Christmas in Australia by John Williamson
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
The Great Kapok Tree is a book about a man who is hired to cut down a large Kapok tree in the Amazon rainforest. After striking the tree a few times with his ax, he falls asleep in the rainforest. While he is sleeping, he is visited by many different animals from the rainforest who give him reasons why he should not cut down the tree.
Other Brazilian Stories
Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans
Madeline’s Christmas is a story about a little girl named Madeline who embarks on an adventure. It’s the night before Christmas and everyone is sick in bed except for Madeline. She is taking care of the other eleven little girls and Miss Clavel. It’s a lot of hard work! When Madeline finds help from a magical merchant, the girls go on a Christmas journey.
Other French Christmas Stories
Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo
Cobweb Christmas is a German folktale that explains why people decorate their Christmas tree with tinsel. It tells the story of an old woman fondly called Tante by those in her village. Each year, Tante got her home ready for Christmas by cleaning and going out to get a Christmas tree. Tante made her own decorations for the tree, covering it in treats for the animals. Once everything was ready, she would share her tree with the children and animals. When Tante finally fell asleep, Christkindel was off delivering presents. He saw hundreds of spiders outside Tante’s house, hoping to view the tree.
Christkindel let them in and discovered they’d woven webs all over the tree. Not wanting to upset Tante, he turned the webs into tinsel. Tante awoke to the marvelous tree and continued to decorate her tree that way year after year.
Other Christmas German Stories
The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie dePaola
The Legend of Old Befana is the story of an old woman living in a small Italian village. Befana is not friendly and the people in the village do not like her very much. She spends her days baking and sweeping her house, steps, and walkway.
One night, Befana is awakened by a bright light outside. It is a star. The star shines so brightly that Befana cannot sleep. The next day as Befana sweeps the walk, she sees an amazing procession of people. She learns that they are in search of the new Baby King that was just born. Eventually, Befana decides that she too will go in search of the king. She bakes treats and brings her broom to sweep for the tired mother.
Befana runs as fast as she can to try and catch up to the group. However, she never finds the king. To this day, Old Befana spends each night running from house to house looking for the Baby King and sweeping children’s rooms.
Other Italian Christmas Stories
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
The Legend of the Poinsettia takes place in a village in Mexico. The main character is a young girl named Lucida. As the village prepares for Christmas, Lucida’s mother is asked to weave a new blanket for the manger scene. They are very proud to do this and Lucida is happy to help. However, as it gets closer to Christmas Eve, Lucida’s mother becomes sick and must stay in the hospital. Everyone is disappointed that the blanket will not be completed in time. Lucida tries to fix the blanket but it just gets tangled. She is so upset that she has nothing to bring to the church so she hides outside.
An old woman approaches Lucida and tells her everything will be okay. She teaches Lucida that the gift she brings does not matter, it is the thought that is important. Lucida gathers a bundle of weeds and brings them to the church. Everyone is surprised to see the weeds bloom into poinsettia. From that day forward, poinsettia flowers bloom every Christmas Eve in Mexico.
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
Too Many Tamales is a story about a girl named Maria, who was excited about helping her mother make tamales around Christmas time. Her mother had even let her wear lipstick and perfume, so she was feeling very grown up. She only wished that she was allowed to wear her mother’s ring. When her mother left the kitchen to answer the phone, she left the ring on the kitchen counter and Maria decided to put it on.
Maria left the ring on when her mother returned, and they continued making the tamales. Soon, the tamales were cooking and Maria’s cousins had arrived, but then she noticed that the ring had disappeared. As she ran to the kitchen and looked at the steaming pile of tamales on a platter, Maria knew that one of the tamales must contain the ring.
In order to find the ring, Maria and her cousins began to eat all of the tamales until there were none left, but the ring was not in any of them. Tears welling up, Maria headed to the living room to confess to her mother about the ring. However, she realized that her mother had the ring on her finger, and the whole family worked together to make a new batch of tamales.
Other Mexican Christmas Stories
- The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
- Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada! by Virginia Kroll
- The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim
- Las Posadas: An Hispanic Christmas Celebration Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren tells the Scandinavian story of a gnome. In this book, the Tomten lives on an old farm and visits the people and animals during the night. While humans have never seen him, they know he is there because of his little footprints in the snow. It takes place during the long, frigid winter while everyone is wishing for spring. As the Tomten visits the cows, sheep, dogs, and children, he offers words of hope and reminds them to be grateful. He speaks his own, silent language that the animals can understand. Students will enjoy listening to this sweet folktale from another country.
Other Swedish Christmas Stories
- The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren
- The Christmas Tomten by Viktor Rydberg
- Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker
- Children Just Like Me Celebrations by by Anabel Kindersley
- Only Tomten is Awake by Astrid Lindgren
These Christmas around the world books are great tools for supplementing your holidays around the world unit. Check out this holidays around the world book list to get more ideas for quality December read alouds to share with your elementary students!