10 Best Children’s Books for Hanukkah

Weekly Trip to the Library

Books may be the best quality gift caregivers can give to the children in their care. Not only will the children and their parents enjoy the book, they are affordable for nannies or au pairs on a budget.

Books are quality gifts because a love of reading increases academic success. By reading regularly with children they learn to love and respect reading. By reading to babies we help to increase their vocabulary. Reading to children helps them learn to concentrate, build listening skills, and increase attentions span. Kids learn life lessons and increase their comprehension, memorization, creativity, and vocabulary while reading.

Here are some great books to share or give to the children in your care for Hanukkah:

1. Latkes And Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story by Fran Manushkin and Robin Spowart

This a story about a peasant family, whose potato crop was buried in a blinding early snowstorm and their apple harvest, had been meager at best, which left them with nothing to eat for the Hanukkah holiday. Despite their poverty, they invite a stray cat and dog into their household for shelter and care from the cruel winter storm, and are blessed with a miracle of sorts on the eighth day of Hanukkah. With beautifully illustrated chalk drawings, the book also includes an explanation of the holiday, directions for playing dreidel, and a wonderful recipe for latkes. This is a great book for children four- to eight-years-old.

2. Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story by Naomi Howland

This excellent book retells the fairy tale of “The Magic Porridge Pot” with a Russian-Jewish family. When Sadie gives an old woman all the firewood she has collected, the woman repays her by giving her a magic frying pan. Sadie must say “Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat …” and the pan fills up with hot oil and delicious latkes. When Sadie is finished, she must say “A Great Miracle Happened There”. One day when Sadie goes out to the woods, her brothers say the magic words to turn on the frying pan but can’t quite get the phrase right to get the pan to stop, resulting in quite a mess. Howland’s prose and beautifully detailed illustrations help make this book a new family classic. Also includes a short description of the story of Hanukkah and a recipe for the latkes Sadie would have made if she didn’t have her magic frying pan. For more stories based on the same original fairy tale, look for Full Belly Bowl, The Magic Porridge Pot, or Moishe’s Miracle: A Hanukkah Story.

3. The Trees of the Dancing Goats (Aladdin Picture Books)by Patricia Polacco

Trisha and Richard’s grandparents, who are from the Ukraine and Soviet Russia, and their mother are living on a farm in the 1930s. They are enjoying their own Hanukkah preparations when they discover their Christian neighbors are too sick to cut and decorate their Christmas trees. They do it for them. Their neighbors thank them with a carved menorah. This heartwarming tale by Patricia Polacco is a family favorite.

4. The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser

This picture book was written by Linda Glaser, with cheerful artwork by Nancy Cote. Rachel’s family is preparing for an evening of latkes with guests. Every year, they invite their elderly neighbor to come, but she stubbornly refuses. This year, Rachel is even more stubborn, and the little girl cleverly comes up with a way to get her involved. I recommend this book for four to eight year-olds.

5. How I Saved Hanukkah by Amy Goldman Koss

This chapter book is both funny and heartwarming. Fourth grader Marla Feinstein, the only Jewish student in her class, is feeling aggravated. All her friends are getting ready for Christmas. Her dad is out of town, and her family has never done much about Hanukkah. Once Marla decides to find out what Hanukkah is all about, thing change rapidly. This is a good book for seven- to ten-year-old independent readers.

6. Chanukah Lights Everywhere by Michael L. Rosen

This picture book for ages three- to seven-years-old was written by Michael L. Rosen and illustrated by Melissa Iwai. A little boy and his family celebrate the Festival of Lights in their home in the city. Each night something happens to remind him of the number of candles they have just lit. This is a nice introduction to the family celebration of Chanukah for a small child.

7. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel

This picture book by master storyteller Eric Kimmel, with its dramatic pen and watercolor illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, is excellent. It’s the entertaining story of how Hershel of Ostnopol saves Hanukkah for an entire village by tricking the scary goblins who have been haunting the old synagogue and preventing the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah. In an afterword, the author explains the meanings of Hanukkah, menorah, dreidel, and latkes. This book is a read-aloud book the whole family will enjoy.

8. The Miracle of Hanukkah by Seymour Chawast

The stepped page format of this picture book by Seymour Chawast will intrigue four- to eight-year-olds. The story of Hanukkah begins with the looting and takeover of the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, devotes several pages to the fight of the Macabees to reclaim the Temple, and ends with the restoration fo the Temple and the first Hanukkah celebration.

9.A Hanukkah Treasury by Eric Kimmel

This is a wonderful collection of more than two dozen poems, stories, songs, Jewish history, and recipes. The book was edited by Eric Kimmel, who also wrote many of the sections. The colorful and exuberant illustrations by Emily Lisker create a feeling of celebration. This is an excellent book for children of all ages.

10. Eight Chanukah Lights by Annie Auerbach

Children will delight in this interactive Hanukkah book. Small light bulbs enable readers to “turn on” the book from the cover and gradually reveal one more light on the menorah. Short simple rhymes describe how a family celebrates each night of Hanukkah. They sing songs, play dreidel, eat latkes and sufganiyot (donuts). Each nights highlight, however, is adding one more candle the menorah. This book is an excellent choice for toddlers and preschoolers.

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