In addition to our Advent calendar, my children and I celebrate Christmas by reading at least one Christmas themed picture book at bedtime every night. Here is one of my favorites.
Title: Too Many Tamales
Author and Illustrator: Written by Gary Soto, Illustrated by Ed Martinez
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993
Genre: Picture book
Themes: Christmas, cooking, family traditions, Hispanic heritage
“Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen and the streets glittered. Maria’s favorite cousins were coming over and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner. It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring…
This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales; of a desperate and funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble; and of the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.”
Why I like this book:
I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures. My degrees in literature in two languages - English and Spanish - are proof. My family and I live in San Diego and I feel it's important for my children to learn about our Hispanic friends and neighbors. Too Many Tamales teaches children about a different cultural tradition. It’s also a tale about why it’s better to tell the truth than cover up a problem. Soto’s book is more than a lesson in culture or morality; the beautiful and original Christmas story is told with such warmth and humor that children of all ages will want to read Too Many Tamales again and again.
Activities and Resources:
Too Many Tamales is one of the videos in Weston Woods’s Stories from the Hispanic Tradition.
Love to cook with your kids? Make tamales (and invite me over)!
Here is a kid-friendly recipe for a non-traditional approach to sweet tamales.
Since making tamales is a lot of work, here is an easier recipe. Not authentic, as there are no husks or wrapping involved, but equally delicious I'm sure!