Whether you celebrate Hanukkah in your house or are simply looking to educate your children about a holiday some of their friends or family might celebrate, I think the list I’ve gathered below will give you a great place to start! You might laugh, you might cry, you might be wowed… You also might learn a little something along the way about the Maccabees, the Festival of Lights, and Hanukkah traditions such as making latkes and playing with dreidels. Keep reading to see Hanukkah titles we love, as well as a little info about each.
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Hanukkah Hamster by Michelle Markel, illustrated by André Ceolin — Published in September of 2018, Hanukkah Hamster is a delightfully sweet story of finding family and sharing traditions during the busy holiday season. This is definitely a new book worth checking out!
Light the Menorah! A Hanukkah Handbook by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kristina Swarner — An informational handbook of Hanukkah, Jules teaches readers about the history, rituals, blessings and reflections for each night, and games, songs, food, and crafts for an 8-day celebration!
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky — Anyone who loves the All-of-a-Kind Family series will delight in this Hanukkah story. Anyone who has felt too small to help or is the youngest in the family will also identify with the main character here! Includes a glossary and info about the original series, the neighborhood, and Hanukkah.
Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka — A light and humorous story of mistaken identity. Though both the story and illustrations will make young readers giggle, we do get snippets of information about Hanukkah prayers, the dreidel game, and latkes. Kimmel includes a recipe for latkes and the history of Hanukkah and its contemporary celebrations.
The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson, illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard — The story of the most beautiful dreidel ever made, for sale in a toy shop. Unfortunately, it will only spin for children have the true spirit of Hanukkah in their hearts. Includes informational notes on Hanukkah, dreidels, and the Hebrew letters on the dreidels and their meanings.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman — A long-time favorite to read during Hanukkah or during a Caldecott study, Kimmel tells the story of Hershel outsmarting the King of the Goblins and his band of followers so that the people of the nearby village can celebrate Hanukkah safely and happily. Not quite as educational as some of the books above, this will still be a delightful read for all ages.
Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Greg Harlin — According to the Author’s Note, this is a fictionalized story of an apparently true tale, recorded in a diary by someone who heard the story first-hand from George Washington himself… I have no idea how much of this is true, but I love the parallels between the Jewish soldiers defeating the much larger enemy army and Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War.
Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster, illustrated by Sue Eastland — I tend to be a sucker for twisted fairy tales, and this Hanukkah rendition of “Little Red Riding Hood” is absolutely delightful! Koster also includes a recipe for Ruthie’s Potato Latkes (hint, these latkes are key to Ruthie outsmarting the Big Bad Wolf!).
The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco — Another book inspired by Patricia Polacco’s own childhood (you can read my thoughts on Thank You, Mr. Falker here and on Chicken Sunday here), this story of a diverse neighborhood helping each other keep the Hanukkah and Christmas magic alive will tug at your heartstrings.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown — Yes, the title says this is a Christmas story, but don’t let that fool you… While trying to convince everyone that he and his holiday role are just as important as Christmas ham, candy canes, and pine trees, the latke actually teaches his audience a fair amount about the history of Hanukkah.
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar — Ehrenberg very cleverly highlights a multicultural family without actually making their multicultural identy the focal point of the story. You’ll laugh out loud as you follow Sadie and her family while they make their non-traditional Hanukkah meal of Indian dosas.
Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown, illustrated by Stacey Schuett — This one’s light on Hanukkah and heavy on Alaska, but I think that’s what makes it wonderful! Life in Alaska is so different from anything we’re familiar with, so our girls find the snow, the moose, the aurora borealis, and the daylight (or lack thereof) fascinating. Be sure to check out the Author’s Note, full of information about both the aurora borealis and Hanukkah.
A Hanukkah with Mazel by Joel Edward Stein, illustrated by Elisa Vavouri — Meet Misha, a poor artist who lives by himself, and Mazel, a stray, hungry cat that wanders into Misha’s barn one night. Though neither has much to offer the other, they make the most of celebrating Hanukkah together. But, what will happen when a peddler stops by and recognizes Mazel as his own cat, Goldie? This one will warm your heart!
The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler, illustrated by Jill Weber — Do you need a good introductory book to Hanukkah, both its history and how it is celebrated today? If so, this is the book for you! Adler does a wonderful job of summarizing the story of the Maccabees, their fight for religious freedom, the rebuilding of the temple, and the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days. He also includes information about how people celebrate Hanukkah today, a recipe for latkes, and directions for playing dreidel.
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko — For those families out there who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, Alko has the perfect book! Sadie’s family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, as her parents each bring one tradition to the family. That means the traditions look a bit different in her house (you might find candy canes draped on the menorah and latkes for Santa!).
The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Shahar Kober — What do you do when your family moves the same day as the first night of Hanukkah, and you can’t find any of your Hanukkah stuff? If you’re resourceful, you might ask a neighbor for help. What if by the eighth night, you still haven’t found that Hanukkah box? You just might decide that you need one more night of celebrating, one that you can share with all your new neighbors who helped you, little by little, celebrate each new night of Hanukkah. And who knows? Maybe your family will experience a Hanukkah miracle, too!
What are your favorite books about Hanukkah?