Story Time: Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad celebrates the song of the same name written by singer-songwriter José Feliciano. The song commemorates childhood memories of La Parranda, a Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico in which singers travel from house to house playing instruments and serenading neighbors. The book is perfect for young children who are just beginning to identify as readers and develop print concepts. The text is simple and repetitive and children can easily follow along and sing the words on each page. Gorgeous paintings by David Diaz fill the book’s pages and make it a pleasure for readers of any age. The illustrations provide numerous opportunities for discussion as the book is read aloud. There are many marvelous holiday images to see, identify, and inspire text-to-self connections. As you read (or sing), engage children by asking questions and defining difficult vocabulary. Here, we share a few ideas for before reading, during reading, and after reading.

Feliz Navidad: Two Stories Celebrating Christmas

Story Time: Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad

Kindergarten Common Core Standards

Literature: Key Ideas and Details
RL.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text

Literature: Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
RL.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding

Before Reading:

Print and cut out the “Merry Christmas" in Different Languages Cards. Stack cards and store by a nearby pocket chart.

Free "Merry Christmas" Cards

Explain that Christmas is celebrated in many different places in many different ways. Have children briefly share some of the ways that they celebrate Christmas. Then, introduce the book. Explain that the author wrote a song about a Christmas tradition on the island of Puerto Rico where he grew up. (If possible, show children where Puerto Rico is located using a globe or a map).

Sing or listen to the song “Feliz Navidad.” 

Feliz Navidad Song and Lyrics

The song is called “Feliz Navidad.”  Ask:

  • Has anyone ever heard the words “Feliz Navidad” before?
  • Who knows what language the words “Feliz Navidad” come from? (Spanish)
  • What do you think “Feliz Navidad” means? (Merry Christmas)

Have children spend a few minutes looking at the cover illustration. Ask:

  • What do you see in the picture? (A musician, a guitar, a Christmas tree, plants, flowers)

Explain that during the Christmas season in Puerto Rico, people get together to sing and play instruments as they travel from house to house through a neighborhood. As the musicians and singers travel, people invite them in for food and more people join them, singing and dancing, as they continue on. Finally, everyone stops at the last house and has a big feast together.

During Reading:

This will help children connect the words on the pages to words in the song through music memory. Read/sing the book one time through with out stopping, so children can begin to become familiar with the song’s words and tune. Define the meaning of “prospero ano y felicidad” (Happy New Year). Then, go through the song again, but pause to discuss details in the illustrations. For example, for the illustration on pages 11-12, children can build vocabulary by identifying the holiday items shown: 

  • What do you see in this picture? (a candy cane, a bird, a showman, a snowflake, a wreath, a bow, a present etc.)
  • Are any of these items part of your Christmas tradition? (Take several responses)

After Reading:

Place the “Merry Christmas” card in the top pocket of the pocket chart. Have children recite the words with you as you point to each one. Place the “Feliz Navidad” card in the next pocket on the pocket chart. Say: “Now, let’s say “Merry Christmas” in Spanish. Have children recite “Feliz Navidad” as you point to each word. Explain that children are going to learn how to say “Merry Christmas” in more languages. Place the remaining cards in the pockets of the pocket chart one at a time. Name the language for each phrase and have children recite the words as you point to them.

  • French: Joyeux Noel
  • German: Fröhliche Weihnachten
  • Dutch: Prettige Kerstfeest
  • Italian: Buon Natale
  • Swedish: God Jul
  • Japanese: Merīkurisumasu
  • Navajo - Ya' at' eeh Keshmish 

Follow up story time by letting children act out the tradition illustrated in “Feliz Navidad.” 

Feliz Navidad Parranda: Act it Out!

Preschool Activities: 

What you need:

House Poster printables
Musical Instruments
Yard or Large Open Space

Free House Posters Printables:


What you do:

Let children color the different House Posters. Encourage them to draw some Christmas decoration on the houses. Post the House Posters around the yard or open room. Divide class into musicians and neighbors. Have children who are acting as neighbors stand in small groups by different house posters. Give the musicians assorted instruments: maracas, triangles, tamborines etc. and have them travel from house to house (number the houses to incorporate number concepts into the activity) singing “Feliz Navidad.” As the musicians go from house to house, have the children “living” at the houses join in the procession, singing and dancing with the musicians. When the procession reaches the last house, have everyone sing the song through one more time.


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