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8 Beloved Children's Books for Hanukkah
Hanukkah should be a time of celebrating the the triumph of good over evil, and each of the books chosen below can help children of all ages understand the reason for the festivities and see the way different people celebrate. In keeping with the spirit of the festival, time spent learning and growing as a family is time spent celebrating the light, pushing away the darkness of indifference and separation.
These are great books to have on hand year round in your household, but it would also be a great idea to gift one of these each night of the festival.
Enjoy these titles!
Books are listed in order by intended age, but all would be great for a young family to add to their collection.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah
One in a series of "How Do Dinosaurs Say" books, this holiday book brings surprising lessons for little ones (ages 2-6). The Dinosaurs start out naughty and disrespectful of the holiday traditions, but by day 5 they are participating right along and helping the family out.
It's Hanukkah! - Santiago Cohen
Meant for children under 5 years of age, It's Hanukkah rhymes and counts its way through the holiday. Does't have a great explanation of what Hanukkah is celebrated for, but great for kids to understand the practical side of traditions, and help them learn to count as the candles are lit one by one.
Papa's Latkes - Jane Breskin Zalben
The bear family is having a latke cook off since Mama is too tired to cook. The children grow through the mishaps of learning to cook, while Papa makes the perfect latkes for everyone to enjoy.
Hanukkah in Alaska - Barbara Brown
Teach your children about the ways the Festival is different places. A young girl in Alaska celebrates Hanukkah with her family, while dealing with a distracting moose in her back yard. Great information about life in Alaska, Hanukkah, and the Aurora Borealis.
Jeremy's Dreidel - Ellie Gellman
Jeremy wants to create a special dreidel for his father. Children can learn about the origins of dreidels as well as the reason Jeremy is carving small dots rather than letters on his small clay dreidel. This story was greatly educational, provided instructions on making your own dreidel, teaching about the Macabee Army, and giving a glimpse into the lives of those who are blind and use the braille language. A great story for the whole family! Meant as a book for younger children, this holiday text would be great for any school age children who love crafting!
Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue - Heidi Smith Hyde
Emanuel's father is a crypto-Jew and he's too afraid to light their menorah in the window. Emanuel decides to sneak away onto the whaling ship of a brave captain, seeking to be 'free', but a bad storm forces them back and it's his father's menorah burning brightly in the window that guides them all home. Meant for grades K-3.
The Trees of the Dancing Goats - Patricia Polacco
A beautiful story on the ways we can celebrate alongside those of a different religion. Young Trisha's neighbours aren't celebrating Christmas this year because the family is sick with Scarlet Fever. With the help of her family, Trisha uses their Hanukkah gifts to care for the family and decorate Christmas trees for secret delivery. Miracles abound in this sweet Hanukkah/Christmas story. Appropriate for school aged children.
All the Lights in the Night - Arthur A. Levine
Leaving Russia behind, two Jewish boys set off in the middle of the night for safety in Palestine. Helped only by an old battered lamp and a nights worth of oil, the boys carry on with hope. A rich retelling of the Hanukkah story, set in 1914. A great read for kids in Grade 1 or older.
Check out my other article, 24 Great Children's Books for a Christmas Advent Countdown, for ideas on how you can use these books as a yearly tradition for your family to gather each night and celebrate the Hanukkah season together. There are MANY other great Hanukkah books out there, so don't be afraid to add a few new books to your collection each year.