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'Tis the season for all things Christmas. And yet, there's so much more to winter. We have the Winter Solstice and Hanukkah and St. Lucia Day and Kwanzaa and Diwali and Las Posadas and the Lunar New Year. There is so much more to celebrate.

Kids are continually charmed, as are we, by days demarcated as special and observed with ceremony. Mystery and wonder and culture fill these non-Christmas holidays. These seven children's books will help you bring that magic home to your kids.

The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer

The Winter Solstice with all its darkness and cold gets more complaints than celebrations in comparison to its summer sister. But it marks a renewal of its own, when the world resets before the days begin to lengthen once again.

This book shares the science and history behind the shortest day of the year along with illustrations and suggestions for projects for kids. It's a children's history-science-activity book all in one, and the illustrations are just retro enough to give it a 1950s Dick-and-Jane vibe.

The Shortest Day, Amazon, $8.99

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Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert

Who wouldn't want to read a book that uses Japanese poetry to explain a Jewish holiday? Each of the eight nights gets its own poem, and every page is a work of art. The pages are stepped, so as you progress through the nights, you watch the candles grow.

The illustrations are saturated with blues, plums, ochres, and deep mossy greens that make this both a beautiful story and work of art. This book is coffee-table worthy.

Hanukkah Haiku, Amazon, $6.98

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Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker

St. Lucia Day is the Swedish holiday that takes place on December 13, and it might have Christmas beat for its festivity. The book follows three children as they re-tell the story of Santa Lucia, the light-bearer depicted in her iconic white dress and red sash. Through their eyes, her story comes alive.

Because they spend the day preparing for the festivities, the book also contains activities, sheet music, patterns for traditional costumes, and recipes for the celebratory saffron buns and ginger snaps that mark the day. The illustrations are vibrant and intricate in a similar style to Jan Brett.

Lucia Morning in Sweden, Amazon, $40.22

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The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

Flor de la Nochebuenao, the poinsettia, is known as the flower of the Holy Night in Mexico. These red flowers are iconic to the season, and this book re-imagines the traditional folktale that gives the history of the poinsettia's place in holiday tradition.

It is written and illustrated by the Newbery and Caldecott award-winning author, Tomie dePaola. His signature painting style gives each page its own mosaic work of art.

The Legend of the Poinsettia, Amazon, $6.99

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Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis

Another folktale re-imagined: Seven brothers, who do nothing but fight, must work together after their father's death to spin gold out of seven spools of thread. Through the fable, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are explained as well as the origins of Kente cloth.

With an introduction, glossary, and index, you come away with a competent knowledge of the holiday in children's book form. The painted linocut illustrations create a vivid portrait of the Ghanaian village where the tale unfolds.

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story, Amazon, $6.99

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Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin

Celebrate the Lunar New Year as you watch a family get ready for the new season. Sweep out the dust from the old year and make dumplings. Decorate with suns, get out the drums, and put on your new clothes.

It is a time for fresh starts and fireworks, lanterns and parades. The prose in this story makes it perfect to read aloud. And the dragon folds out to epic proportions.

Bringing in the New Year, Amazon, $7.99

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Winter Candle by Jeron Ashford

For another book about the darkest night of the year, "Winter Candle" takes you into an urban apartment complex where one candle lights the way for a Thanksgiving dinner, a Sabbath celebration, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. It is also the light in the storm that leads a lost tenant home through the snow.

This book unites all the winter holidays with a celebration of diversity and community. It's also written by a graduate school librarian who knows how to do her research.

Winter Candle, Amazon, $95.45

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The winter holidays offer an incredibly rich opportunity for learning about other cultures, religions, and traditions. Let these children's books introduce your family to the winter season on a global level.

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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