8 Hanukkah Children's Books
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Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration that begins on the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. Depending on the calendar, it usually falls in November or December. Hanukkah means "dedication" and it commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem during the second century B.C.
I have made a list of 8 Hanukkah books for children. Parents and educators can use this list to look up for options to read with kids during Hanukkah.
This year (2016) Hanukkah begins on December the 24th and ends on January the 1st.
1. The Best Hanukkah Ever by Barbara Diamond Goldin
The Knoodle family is having dinner the Saturday night before Hanukkah. They all ponder about the rabbi's message about the perfect gift. The family decides to play a game. Everyone's name goes into a hat and each family member has to give a gift to the family member's name picked. During the first night of Hanukkah, the family celebrates with the traditional lighting of the menorah, songs, the Hanukkah story, the dreidel, and potato pancakes. Afterwards, the gift exchange starts, but it doesn’t go according to plan. Everyone gets strange gifts. The family gets the rabbi to help them solve the problem. At the end, each family member gets the one gift that will be treasured forever.
2. Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon
Winner of the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for Children's Literature, Oskar and the Eight Blessings is a story of a refugee boy named Oskar who arrives in New York City on the seventh day of Hanukkah. It is 1938 and Oskar is escaping from the terrible Nazi regime in Europe. He only has the address and picture of an aunt. He walks all through Manhattan, which is decorated because it is also Christmas Eve. During his walk, he meets several persons and each of them greets him with an act of kindness. This touching story reminds us that there is still kindness amid history's dark times.
3. Sadie's Almost Marvelous Menorah by Jamie Korngold
Sadie's teacher, Morah Rachel, asked the class to make menorahs with clay. Sadie spends a whole week doing her menorah and practicing Hanukkah blessings. Friday, the due date, arrives. She is excited about her menorah, but trips and drops it over while showing it to her mother. The only part that doesn’t break is the one that holds the shammash. Her mother helps her find a solution. They call the new menorah "Sadie's Super Shammash." This a great story to teach children to find solutions when something doesn’t go according to plan.
4. My First Chanukah by Tomie dePaola
Hanukkah is also known as Chanukah. Acclamined children's author Tomie de Paola teaches early readers about celebrating Chanukah. The illustrations of this board book are joyful and match the simple text. It is a perfect story for preschoolers.
5. The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler
An educational picture book with vibrant illustrations, The Story of Hanukkah tells the history of Hanukkah in an age-appropriate way. It covers how the Maccabees restored the Temple of Jerusalem. The book includes how some people celebrate Hanukkah, a latke recipe, and directions on how to play the dreidel.
6. Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown
A girl describes how is winter in Alaska. They have to watch out for moose up there because they are big and kick things. A moose lives in the girl's backyard, and she is afraid he might tear her swing from the tree. Even though it is Hanukkah, the girl is grumpy because of the dark and the wandering moose. The family lights a new candle in the menorah every night, and the moose is still in their backyard. Dad has a surprise in the backyard. The girl dresses up according to the harsh weather. They see the beautiful, colorful, and bright Aurora borealis! Meanwhile, the moose sticks his head through her swing, but the girl smartly drives him away with latkes.
7. Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale by Eric A. Kimmel
Simon is in route to America, but his ship sinks. As the only survivor left, he is on an ice floe. It is the first night of Hanukkah so he lights a candle that attracts a polar bear. Fortunately, the polar bear fishes for him and keeps him warm. He also listens to his songs and eats latkes with him. Simon is almost out of hope, but then remembers all the miracles that have happened to him. He asks for one miracle more and lights all the candles in the menorah. Miraculously, a ship takes notice of the glowing lights and saves him. He arrives in New York after that ordeal.
8. Little Avi and the Maccabee Fairies: A Story and Guide for Hanukkah (Volume 1) by Jessica Shaool
A recently published and whimsical story, Little Avi and the Maccabee Fairies: A Story and Guide for Hanukkah (Volume 1) is about finding magic around us in simple things. Little Avi enthusiastically looks for the Maccabee Fairies: Gooding Maccabee, Leora, and Lilah. She learns, however, that Hanukkah is about much more. Children get to try and find the fairies in this lovely book. It includes a latke recipe too.
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