The Jewish festival of Hanukkah is a mainstay on the winter calendar. Celebrate this year with latkes and reading lots of Hanukkah books as a family! Here is a list of great Hanukkah books about the value of togetherness, holiday staples like latkes and dreidels, and how children can learn to cherish and celebrate their heritage. These Hanukkah books will delight your family and make this year’s Festival of Lights one your family will never forget. Publishers’ descriptions included below.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz and
A family drives through the snow to visit their beloved bubbe, who spreads out a Chanukah supper for everyone to enjoy. But one dish goes a little wrong:
“I know an old lady who swallowed a dreidel
A Chanukah dreidel she thought was a bagel…
Perhaps it’s fatal.”
Indeed, Bubbe’s first bite leads to an insatiable taste for oil, latkes, applesauce, gelt — even menorahs! But as the family tries to distract her from her gluttony, the items she devours grow ever larger. Will they be able to reconnect with her and bring her home for the last night of Chanukah — or will her feasting in fact be fatal?
Beyond the joy of a Jewish take on this most American of folk songs, the illustrations here offer hilarious parodies of great works of art by da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hopper, Rockwell, Matisse, Picasso, and other masters — adding a whole new layer of humor and culture to the familiar tune. You’ll love this old lady, and want to visit her every Chanukah for years to come.
Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Hanukkah by Linda Glaser and Nancy Cote
Though it’s the first night of Hanukkah, Rachel’s family won’t really be celebrating until next week. But Rachel wants to celebrate now, so she comes up with a good idea: While her parents do errands, she’ll visit her neighbor, Mrs. Greenberg, and they can make latkes together. The two head into Mrs. Greenberg’s shiny, tidy kitchen and begin grating the potatoes. But Rachel’s gratings slide off the table and onto the floor. Before long, Rachel has dropped an egg, spilled the flour, and dribbled the oil. Mrs. Greenberg is exhausted, Rachel’s mom and dad are horrified, and Rachel is afraid she’s ruined a friendship by making this terrible mess. She is relieved and delighted to find that Mrs. Greenberg thinks it’s a wonderful mess — her house hasn’t felt so lived-in in years!
The Night Before Hanukkah by Natasha Wing and
The newest title in the bestselling Night Before series is the perfect gift for every girl and boy who celebrates Hanukkah!
It’s the night before the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah begins, and everyone is excited! Each evening, the family gathers to light the candles and share holiday traditions such as playing dreidel, eating latkes, and exchanging gifts. The seventeenth title in Natasha Wing’s bestselling series, The Night Before Hanukkah captures all the joy and love in one of the most wonderful times of the year!
How I Saved Hanukkah by Amy Goldman Koss
Marla Feinstein, the only Jewish kid in her fourth-grade class, hates December. While everyone else is decorating trees, she’ll be forgetting to light the candles and staring at a big plastic dreidel. The holidays couldn’t get much worse. So Marla decides to find out what Hanukkah’s really about — and soon she and her family have made the Festival of Lights the biggest party in town!
Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein by Amanda Peet, Andrea Troyer, and
For anyone who’s ever asked “Why can’t we have a tree?” comes a “lighthearted” (USA Today) book about being Jewish during the Christmas season from actress Amanda Peet!
Rachel Rosenstein is determined to celebrate Christmas this year — and the fact that her family is Jewish is not going to stop her. In a series of hilarious and heartwarming mishaps, Rachel writes a letter to Santa explaining her cause, pays him a visit at the mall, and covertly decorates her house on Christmas Eve (right down to latkes for Santa and his reindeer). And while Rachel may wrestle with her culture, customs, and love of sparkly Christmas ornaments, she also comes away with a brighter understanding of her own identity and of the gift of friends and family.
Inspired by Amanda Peet’s experience with her own children, Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein is sure to be a new holiday classic!
Latke, the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fischer and
Rescued from an animal shelter on the first night of Hanukkah, Latke the puppy joins the family just in time for the celebrations. Although he has trouble learning the house rules, he is one Lucky Dog!
The Runaway Latkes by Leslie Kimmelman and
When three potato latkes escape Rachel Bloom’s frying pan on the first night of Hanukkah, everyone including the cantor, the rabbi, and the mayor joins in the chase.
A young girl’s account of life in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.
When the hated Syrian-Greek king fills ancient Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods and destroys the Jewish temple, feisty Alexandra takes up reed pen, ink, and sheet of papyrus and turns “scribe.”
In her scroll Alexandra records the everyday happenings of her life, as well as the events of the Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees. When her father joins the resistance against the Greek authorities, Alexandra must leave her friends and the city she loves. The victory of the Maccabees three years later returns the family to Jerusalem — to old friends, new ones and, for Alexandra, a new life.
Place and time are recreated in this story of a girl caught up in the events that led to the rebuilding of the temple, the miracle of oil that burns eight days, and the celebration of the first Hanukkah.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman
A traveler rids a village synagogue of goblins. A Caldecott Honor Book.
Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard Simon, Tanya R. Simon, and Mark Siegel
A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city’s many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world. This is a heartwarming, timeless picture book.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
From the warm glow of holiday candles in the menorah to the fun of family gatherings, little dinosaurs love to celebrate the Festival of Lights. But sometimes the excitement of Chanukah, its treasured rituals, and the tradition of gifts can tempt a youngster to misbehave…
Come along on a joyful romp filled with tumbling dreidels and melting gelt as America’s favorite prehistoric pals spread a little mischief this season. Children will laugh out loud as dinosaurs fidget, fuss, and stomp through every occasion, while their human parents shift from shock to weary patience.
Filled with warmth and cheer, this new book by the bestselling team of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague makes a perfect gift to be read again and again, year after year. How do dinosaurs say Happy Chanukah? The same way they say Merry Christmas: With an abundance of love, joy, memory, and gratitude.
The Very Best Hanukkah Gift by Joanne Rocklin and
Hanukkah is here at last, and Daniel Bloom couldn’t be more excited. It’s time for candle lighting and storytelling and presents. Time for chocolate gelt and dreidel games and… green latkes? Uh-oh. Maybe this year’s Hanukkah won’t be quite what Daniel expects.
And his mom’s zucchini latke experiment isn’t Daniel’s only holiday challenge. There’s that dog who just moved in down the hall. That huge dog with the fierce bark. Ever since being bitten last summer, Daniel has been afraid of dogs. Whenever he hears barking, he feels younger than his little sister, Amy. She loves dogs. Daniel knows that Amy wishes he weren’t afraid. Maybe then, one of her gifts could be a dog. But that would take a miracle, Daniel figures.
A Hanukkah miracle.
Chanukah Lights Everywhere by Michael J. Rosen and Melissa Iwai
One crescent moon glows in the sky. Two headlights shine through the window… On each magical night of Chanukah, a young boy and his sister count more lights shining all around them! Join them as they discover what it means to celebrate Chanukah in a world filled with so many other lights.
Simon and the Bear by Eric A. Kimmel and
Before Simon sails to America, he promises his family that he will get a job and send for them. Simon’s mother knows he will need a miracle, so she reminds him to celebrate Hanukkah wherever he may be. Little does either of them know that Simon will spend the first night of Hanukkah on an ice floe after his ship sinks.The lone survivor out in the wide ocean, Simon lights the first candle, and it attracts a visitor: a polar bear. Does she eat him? No! She shares his latkes, enjoys his songs, goes fishing for him, and even keeps him warm at night. By the last day of Hanukkah, Simon has nearly given up hope of ever being rescued. But then he recounts all of the miracles that have befallen him so far. Perhaps it is not too much to hope for one more, he thinks, as he lights all of the candles in the menorah. The bright glow signals a passing ship, and Simon makes it to New York after all. This fanciful Hanukkah tale-like none you’ve ever read before-celebrates eight miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love. A retelling of the ancient Hanukkah story is included on the last page.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown
Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star of The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well. The ending is happy, at least for some. People who are interested in any or all of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as though Hanukkah were being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights.
The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler and Jill Weber
No celebration of Hanukkah would be complete without recounting the events of more than two thousand years ago that the holiday commemorates. In a simple yet dramatic text and vibrant paintings, the story of the courageous Maccabees and the miracle that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem is retold. For readers who want to continue the festivities, a recipe for latkes and directions for playing dreidel are included.
Which of these Hanukkah books do you recommend? Tell us in the comments!