What Do You Celebrate? Holidays and Festivals Around the World
Written by Whitney Stewart
Illustrated by Christiane Engel
Expected publication: March 5, 2019
Why we chose this book:
Who doesn't love festivals and celebrations? And you know we love learning about other cultures! A review copy was provided by Sterling Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
With 14 holidays from five continents (Australia doesn't appear), What Do You Celebrate? showcases diverse characters celebrating some holidays you may know and some you may not. The opening two-page spread is an introduction to what a holiday is, accompanied by a timeline of the year with each of the featured holidays listed alongside a child you'll find on that holiday's page.
Each celebration covers two pages. An explanation of the holiday, a craft or recipe, and some key words are on the left-hand page; children celebrating the holiday are depicted on the right-hand page. We were particularly excited to recognize some holidays and pleasantly surprised to learn about ones we'd never heard of. Among those we recognized were Chinese New Year, Holi (though we didn't know it was called that), and Laternenfest. We've been reading Chinese New Year books lately for obvious reasons; I've always been curious about the Indian holiday where colors are thrown (that's all I knew about it before reading); and a friend had celebrated Laternenfest in Germany for the first time this winter, so we were excited to know more about it! Some new holidays for us included Dangpai Losar in Bhutan and Fastelavn in Denmark; T has very specific plans about celebrating Dangpai Losar by playing the stone toss game whose instructions are included.
What sets this bright picture book apart from other holiday books we've read are the crafts and recipes. For each holiday, a simple craft or recipe or even charitable project is presented: you could bake Hamantaschen for Purim or make a Chinese New Year drum from paper plates or collect food donations in celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Everything is easy enough to do with common materials and children of any age.
What Do You Celebrate? is an effective introductory tool for teaching holidays around the world and developing intercultural understanding. And it's just plain fun - T and I both like the sounds of Hamantaschen and plan to bake them soon!
Son: It has Chinese New Year in it, and it even has a dancing dragon, and I've looked at some new pictures a little bit more. And it's good. I think you'll really like it.
Son, pointing to Chinese New Year page: Hey, we didn't need to read that. I already knew about that!
Mom: Did you learn anything new about Chinese New Year from this book...maybe about the monster? And what's he afraid of?
Son: That he eats anything he can find in the village! Red and loud noises.
Mom: So, the desi is sweetened rice with saffron, cashews, and raisins.
Son: We like that!
Mom: Is this [Degor] a game you'd want to play? How would you play it?
Son: With rocks. Let's shovel. And then let's stick the stick in the ground, and then let's throw a rock at it, and get this close to it. [Holds hands about 4 inches apart.]
Son: I want to ride a ship because of crocodiles and sharks.
Mom: I don't think you need to worry about crocodiles and sharks in rivers and canals in Japan.
Mom: I don't think they live there.
Mom: Do you have a favorite holiday in this book?
Son: Yeah. This one [Guy Fawkes Day]! Can you read the chant?
(I did read the chant.)
Mom: Which holiday would you most want to celebrate?
Son: Let's see each one. Chinese New Year! I like all the drums!
Mom: Do you want to make a drum? How would you decorate it?
Son: Yeah. I would decorate it with red Scotch tape and sparkle tape.
Mom: What was the favorite thing you learned? And what's something important to know about the book?
Son: My favorite thing I learned as that there were a bunch of holidays in it. And on all days we should read it.
Mom: And would you want to make any of the crafts or recipes? I want to make knödel.
Son: Yeah. I want to make the skeleton snacks.
(Dia de los Muertos skulls from marshmallows.)