Hanukkah is coming, and it is time to grab some great Hanukkah picture books to read and learn about your or perhaps our neighbor’s traditions. These books are not just for children whose families celebrate Hanukkah, if you are new to reading books about traditions or faiths outside your own don’t be shy, grab the book and just read. If your child has questions, that you can’t answer find out the answer together by researching it. If you have a favorite book about Hanukkah that is not listed here, please take a second and leave a comment, let’s keep this list growing!
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Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles by David A. Alder is a phenomenal book that should be read by children of all backgrounds. The story is about Sara, a little girl who notices a man eating the rotten fruit left out by a grocer, and Morris the old man who becomes a friend after Sara shows him great kindness and learns all about tzedakah, which is giving to those who have less than you. Sara starts leaving Morris cookies she saves from her school snack, then as Hanukkah is coming she leaves him a menorah, latkes and more. The real kindness comes when he joins her family for Hanukkah in their home. A wonderful story of charity and friendship.
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko is a good book for families that celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, or really any two religious traditions to see how this one family found a way to honor both faith traditions. This is a good story, but I was hoping to get more info about Hanukkah, so if you are looking to learn more about Hanukkah the next book is better, but as a story of a modern family this is a great pick.
I Have A Little Dreidel by Maxie Baum is a fun book that touches on some of the most common aspects of Hanukkah with a text adapted from the popular dreidel song. The text is so much fun to read especially if you are familiar with the song if you aren’t I would look it up on youtube and learn it before you read this to a group, trust me it will be so much more fun with the right tune!
The Miracle of Hanukkah by Seymour Chwast is a great non-fiction book about Hanukkah. It explains the history behind the holiday in an easy to understand format. My favorite part is how the book has many different layers of pages to explain the fight between the Maccabees and Antiochus; it’s a fun way to keep kids into it while explaining the history. Great book!
Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story by Naomi Howland is a Hanukkah story about kindness repaid and how things can go awry. Sadie is a kind young woman and after she offers her firewood to an older woman who is cold the older woman repays her with a magic frying pan. This pan magically makes latkes, as many as you want if you say the magic words. Her hungry brothers are overjoyed, their bellies are full, but as often happens, they get greedy. See the frying pan will keep cooking and cooking unless you know the magic words to make it stop, and her brothers didn’t hear those words. Mayhem ensues, but the family and village find a way to make the mountains of latkes into a celebration. Beware you will be craving latkes after reading this, luckily there is a recipe.
A Confused Hanukkah: An Original Story of Chelm by Jon Koons is a delightful story about the village of Chelm, known by some as the village of fools. The people of Chelm aren’t the brightest, and when their Rabbi is away, they have no one to guide them about Hanukkah. So they send a villager out to find out how to celebrate it, only he misses the nearby village and ends up in the big city where there are Christmas trees. After he returns, the village gets ready for Hanukkah with a dreidel covered Christmas tree, and they select the biggest fattest villager to be dressed as their version of Santa. Luckily the Rabbi returns, and gets the village back on course, explaining the proper Hanukkah traditions and the reasons behind them all. I love this book; I think it’s a great comical look at Hanukkah while really teaching much about it as well.
Hanukkah Lights by Ben Lakner is a book that is fun for a variety of ages and explains so much. For someone like me who has grown up with friends who celebrate Hanukkah but doesn’t herself, I know a little bit about the holiday but am fuzzy on the details. This book clears up those fuzzies! There is so much in this board book; little kids will love lifting the flaps to reveal fun details. The text is too long for the average toddler, though, so if you are reading it only to a tiny one, I’d focus on the pictures and flaps, they are wonderful. If you are reading this with an older preschooler, it’s perfect, and they still love the flaps too!
Hanukkah Lights by David Martin is a new book to us and perfect for my toddler. Even though we do not celebrate Hanukkah, I want my kids to be familiar with various religions and celebrations that go with them; this is a perfect first Hanukkah book. My daughter loved it and it was fun to read with my son and have him read unfamiliar words. I was so excited to find a great Hanukkah book for toddlers.
The Only One Club by Jane Naliboff is a cute book about a little girl named Jennifer who is the only one in her class who celebrates Hanukkah. Soon she finds out that there are lots of “Only Ones” in her class, as the only one with red hair, the only one who wears dresses every day and the only one with a unique last name. I like the message this book has, that we should celebrate our diversity and tell our kids it’s not a bad thing to be unique.
The Eighth Menorah by Lauren L. Wohl is a sweet story about Sammy and the menorah he makes in Sunday School. The problem is that Sammy’s parents already have seven menorahs and he just doesn’t feel like they need another. Lucky for Sammy’s Grandma she does! The story is about Hanukkah, about the special relationship grandparents have with their grandchildren and about how special kid-made art really is.
Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert is a bright and cheery look at the traditions surrounding the holiday within the parameters of a haiku on every page. The illustrations by Karla Gudeon are so detailed I spent ages just looking at all of it. Each page is a haiku that goes along with a night of Hanukkah, and it also explains briefly some of the other traditions like playing dreidel, eating latkes and chocolate gold coins!