Once upon a time, I was a children's librarian. In the United States, public librarians are supposed to stay away from using books involving religion in any way, shape or form. But we're still allowed to read stories about ethnic celebrations, as long as we're evenhanded about it. (It was somewhat different when I was in Canada.)
In any case, here are my favorite "winter holiday" books for reading aloud:
Climo, Shirley (Jane Manning, ill.) Cobweb Christmas.
Everybody loves Christmas at Tante's. The old lady decorates a wonderful tree and makes certain to have something for all who come to visit, be it the nearby village children or the shy animals of the pine forest. The only creatures Tante overlooks are the spiders she has swept out of her cottage while cleaning. But the curious spiders want to come inside and see Tante's tree, too. When a midnight visitor lets them into the old lady's home, they unknowingly spin Tante the very gift she has longed for--a gift that has inspired the draping of tinsel on Christmas trees ever since.
Ets, Marie Hall and Aurora Labistida. Nine Days to Christmas.
Las posadas are celebrated from December 16 - 24, and re-enact Mary and Joseph's cold and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter; in Spanish, the word means "lodging."
Henry, O (Lizbeth Zwerger, ill.) The Gift of the Magi.
A young husband and wife each, unbeknownst to the other, gives up a most treasured possession to buy the other a wonderful gift. The gifts, of course, are useless as a result, but the couple's love is all the stronger.
Hill, Susan (Angela Barrett, ill.) Can it be True?
Based on the The Oxen by Thomas Hardy, the author of the Simon Serailler mystery series writes an enchanting poem. Barrett's illustrations are magical.