First Books About Large Gatherings | Milestones

Big events or public spaces with a lot of people can bring up feelings of anxiety in adults; for children encountering them for the first time, these feelings may be heightened. Here are some titles to share with parents and caregivers that might help.

Big events or public spaces with a lot of people can bring up feelings of anxiety in adults; for children encountering them for the first time, these feelings may be heightened. For these little ones who might benefit from knowing in advance what to expect, or for those who prefer to celebrate away in their own way, here are some titles to share with parents and caregivers.


Bindiya in India by Monique Kamaria Chheda. illus. by Desbasmita Dasgupta. Mango & Marigold. ISBN 9781645437130.
Nine-year-old Bindiya goes on her very first adventure to India to attend a cousin’s wedding. The unfamiliar is now familiar as Bindiya embraces her culture while unwrapping the greatest gift of all—family. Chheda writes a triumphant bilingual tale about a little girl exploring her heritage, while also presenting a window into the experience of an Indian wedding from a child’s perspective. This is a charming and authentic story that all children will find relatable.

Maisy Goes to the Movies by Lucy Cousins. illus. by author. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763669508. Maisy heads to the multiplex with her friends Charley the Crocodile, Tallulah the Chick, Cyril the Squirrel, and Eddie the Elephant. After purchasing their tickets and snacks, they enter the theater. Even though they all want to sit in different places, they each find the right seat. Cyril is afraid of the dark and ends up holding Maisy's hand. Eddie is hushed by the crowd when he talks out loud. Tallulah and others need to use the restroom in the middle of the show. These are realistic situations that children will encounter firsthand when going to the cinema. 

Early Sunday Morning by Denene Millner. illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Agate/Bolden. ISBN 9781572842113.
A joyous and kid-friendly celebration of the church experience from the perspective of a young Black girl. The author’s simple text features humorous truths about lengthy sermons and sweet, authentic peeks into the life of a religiously observant family’s hectic Sunday mornings. Though many scenes take place in church, there isn’t overt religious content. 

Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century by Jane O’Connor. illus. by Robin Preiss Glasser. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062083197.
Fancy Nancy is excited to finally be invited to a wedding; she can’t wait for the frills and thrills. But she’s disappointed when she finds out that not only is her hippie uncle’s wedding decidedly NOT fancy, but there is also not a traditional flower girl. Eventually, she learns that weddings are more than just pomp and circumstance—they are about family, joy, and pancakes!

Sammy Spider’s First Bar Mitzvah by Sylvia A. Rouss. illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. Kar-Ben. ISBN 9781467789318.
In this installment, Sammythe cute, curious spider in this long-running seriessneaks into Mr. Shapiro's tallit bag (the small, zippered velvet bag he uses to carry his prayer shawl and kippah to synagogue) to attend Josh's cousin Ben's bar mitzvah. Schools and libraries where the Sammy Spider books are popular will welcome this latest addition, which could also be helpful in preparing a young child who is attending a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony for the first time.

Open the Church Door by Christopher Santoro. illus. by author. Random. ISBN 9780593127698.
This lift-the-flap board book introduces young readers to what they might expect when going to church. Friends and family, arts and crafts, and more are ready for readers to discover under the flaps. Similar titles by Santoro include Open the Preschool Door, Open the Barn Door, and Open the Garage Door.

The Night Before My First Communion by Natasha Wing, illus by Amy Wummer. Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 9781524786199.
In the style of Clement C. Moore's famous holiday poem, Wing takes readers through preparations for a brother and sister's First Communion. The children's extended family is present to celebrate this Catholic ceremony with them. This book is part of Wing's "The Night Before" series.


Or, for children who prefer small gatherings

Violet Shrink by Christine Baldacchino. illus. by Carmen Mok. Groundwood. ISBN 9781773062051.
Violet Shrink does not like parties. Instead, she prefers to be alone, under a tent of blankets, drawing with her headphones on. She lives with her well-meaning but apparently clueless father, who inadvertently tricks her into attending social gatherings, not understanding the anxiety she experiences. To cope, Violet escapes into her imagination, but, faced with a family reunion, eventually confides in her father. He listens and accepts her, and Violet participates in the reunion under the table with her headphones on. Refreshingly, the book centers on a character whose shyness and anxiety are not “overcome”; rather, they are accepted and understood.

How to Party Like a Snail by Naseem Hrab. illus. by Kelly Collier. Owlkids. ISBN 9781771474177.
Even the meekest of partiers will feel seen by this snail. Snail loves being invited to parties, but sometimes all the noise makes him shrink into his shell. It’s not long before he stops getting invited. Luckily Snail thinks up his very own, very subdued party, just for himself. “I love me!” he says in a refreshing portrayal of a quiet yet confident character. A nice social-emotional addition to any collection, this has a very quiet character carrying a rather loud message: All volumes welcome.

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