'Twas Nochebuena

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
'Twas Nochebuena Book Poster Image
Sweet bilingual tale of Latinx Christmas Eve traditions.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn a lot about the Latin American traditions of Nochebuena, particularly the customs (foods, songs, practices, games) of Mexican American families who celebrate the holiday with extended family and friends.

Positive Messages

The book's message is that there's something extremely special and even magical about Christmas Eve when you have so much to celebrate with your family, from tortillas to a game of Lotería to presents after midnight.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character has a loving and supportive immediate and extended family; they have rich holiday traditions that bind siblings, cousins, grandparents, and neighbors together.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 'Twas Nochebuena is a bilingual (but mostly in English) homage to the classic poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," exploring the many traditions that accompany a Latinx family's celebration of Nochebuena. Narrated by a young Latina girl who lives in a multigenerational household, the holiday picture book will teach readers about her favorite aspects of Christmas Eve, from cooking and decorating to playing games and opening presents.

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What's the story?

'TWAS NOCHEBUENA takes place on Christmas Eve, but this isn't any ordinary celebration -- it's Nochebuena, when Latinx families stay up late celebrating the holiday. The little girl narrating the story takes us on a Christmas Eve journey that includes her family's beloved customs, from making delicious tamales and playing Lotería to marching house to house for Las Posadas and attending a late Mass. With her extended family close by, the narrator enjoys a special Christmas Eve that incorporates Spanish vocabulary (there's a glossary and author's note in the back of the book).

Is it any good?

This delightful picture book captures beautiful Latinx holiday traditions. Families who celebrate Nochebuena will be particularly touched by the story (even if your family may have slightly different cuisine or play different games), but everyone who celebrates Christmas will find this a worthy addition to the holiday bookshelf. Using the same structure of Clement Moore's classic Christmas poem, author Roseanne Greenfield Thong artfully weaves in Spanish words and traditions, explaining why in most Latinx families, Christmas Eve and not Christmas Day is considered the main event of the holiday season.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they learned about the Latinx tradition (in this case, Mexican American) of Nochebuena.

  • If you celebrate Christmas, how does the celebration of Christmas Eve described in the story compare with yours?

  • Discuss your own holiday traditions. Which ones do you look forward to each year? Do you have favorite children's books that portray those traditions?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

Themes & Topics

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