The holiday season is just around the corner, so we enlisted author Liz Kleinrock to talk to us more about the inspiration for her book Come and Join Us! which features 18 holidays celebrated throughout the year and around the world. This informative book reminds us that there is more to celebrate than just a handful of mainstream holidays. Want to learn about other holidays? Check out our Shake Up Your Celebrations titles and help your readers celebrate who they are!
I remember the first time a classmate told me he felt sorry for me because I didn’t celebrate Christmas. “Who gives you presents?” he exclaimed “That’s so sad!” He then went down a checklist of Christmas related activities (“Elf on the shelf?” “Nope.” “Writing letters to Santa?” “No.”). He couldn’t believe that someone could live their entire life without singing carols and decorating a tree.
Not long after I became a teacher, a young student of mine repeated my former classmate’s words during a discussion about winter holidays. I was the only Jewish person in the room full of 7-year-olds, who on cue all looked at me sympathetically. One even yelled out, “No Christmas?! That sucks!”
Luckily at this point, I knew how to respond. I looked puzzled. “Why do you feel sorry for me? I’ve never felt sorry for myself. I really love being Jewish and celebrating Jewish holidays. My family and I give each other presents on Hanukkah, but the holiday is actually about a lot more than gifts. It’s fun to celebrate Christmas with my Christian friends, but I like my culture’s traditions.”
Holidays celebrated in the United States are dominated by cultural hierarchy. Just go into any Target or shopping mall at a particular time of year and you see which holidays are front and center: The 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and more. The greetings people give each other often assume that we all celebrate the same things. For many children and adults like me, we go through our world with others rarely acknowledging and often othering our joyous occasions.
I wrote Come and Join Us! for exactly that reason: To ensure that children of different ethnicities, faiths, and cultures are not only represented, but also affirmed for who they are. In this book, you’ll find the labor of love from dozens of folks I interviewed about their special times of the year, from South Asian to African American to Indigenous Hawaiian holidays. Our amazingly talented illustrator, Chaaya Prabhat, was the perfect fit for this project. Her colorful drawings embody all the action, warmth, love, and chaos of family celebrations. I am so grateful to have partnered with her on this book!
As an adult, I still celebrate the Jewish holidays, as well as Korean ones such as Chuseok and Lunar New Year, and have added my partner’s Mexican heritage celebrations like Navidad. Although these and the celebrations in Come and Join Us!, may not be as well known, they are just as important as any mainstream holiday.
About the Author
Liz Kleinrock is an author, antibias antiracist educator, consultant, and facilitator for schools, organizations, and companies across the country. A transracial adoptee, Liz was born in South Korea and grew up in Washington, DC. She is the author of Start Here, Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community and Come and Join Us! 18 Holidays Celebrated All Year Long, illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat. She resides in Washington, DC, with her partner and two bunnies and advocates for a more equitable world through her work with Teach and Transform. You can learn more about her work at lizkleinrock.com.
About the Book
Meet kids who share how they celebrate holidays all year long—perfect for discussions about de-centering winter holidays!
Who says the holidays only happen in the winter? Every day’s a holiday when you live in a world as diverse as ours! From Juneteenth to Vesak, and Yom Kippur to Día de las Muertos, the festivities never end.
Come and join us and learn about eighteen holidays celebrated by a diverse group of children in this inviting and joyful picture book written by renowned antibias and antiracist educator, Liz Kleinrock of Teach and Transform, with vibrant illustrations by Chaaya Prabhat.
This book is useful for discussing holidays in the classroom and can be an enjoyable resource for making sure no one holiday is more valued than the other.
Holidays featured include: Seollal, Holi, Nowruz, Passover, Vaisakhi, Vesak, Juneteenth, Homecoming, Onam, Obon, Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur, Makahiki, Día de los Muertos, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr