Two things I'm really passionate about:
1. Children's holiday books
2. The true spirit of Christmas. To me, the very heart of this is showing respect and love for people who celebrate traditions and holidays other than Christmas—or who perhaps don't celebrate at all.
These things were the inspiration behind Holidays with Joe (cover pictured), a simple sight-words story for beginning readers about a little boy, his mom, brother, and sister and their celebration of Hanukkah, and his friend and neighbor Nia and her mom, dad, and brother's celebration of Christmas.
We watch the two friends happily running in between their cozy row houses while their families spin a dreidel and hang stockings respectively. We sit in on festive meals of potato latkes and a turkey dinner rounded out with a tray of colorful Christmas cookies. At the end of the book, the kids' families meet at Nia's house for a dreidel game in front of the Christmas tree.
The message of this book is really basic: that two friends can respect, honor, and even joyfully participate in each other’s traditions. Yet it’s one I can't help but feel we need—perhaps this year in particular. Call me sentimental, but it truly warms my heart to think of kids internalizing this story and taking its message of mutual respect with them through their elementary years and beyond. Happy Holidays, one and all!