For the child that celebrates Hanukkah — or just wants to learn more about the traditions and history related to the Jewish holiday — there are some wonderful books that exist for them to experience, share, and maybe even make a part of their own future family’s new traditions.
The Festival of Lights is a wonderful story with a beautiful message, and while it may not get the same degree of pomp that Santa gets, there’s a whole lot to enjoy and celebrate.
There are eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, or the evening of November 28th. That means it’s only fair to have one book for each day/night of celebration.
Here are the 8 best Hanukkah books for kids:
1. Goodnight Chamudim: An Israeli Parody (Goodnight Baby) by Natalie Geller Kaldes
This is a super-cute Israeli parody of the famous children’s book, Goodnight Moon. Under the backdrop of a traditional Israeli home, there’s tons of Jewish holiday decor and imitates the Goodnight Moon style book with entirely Israeli/Jewish contributions.
2. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins: 25th Anniversary Edition by Eric A. Kimmel
Sometimes, there’s nothing quite like a classic, and this story is an old, award-winning children’s book about a village that does not celebrate Hanukkah for the strangest of reasons. Apparently, there are goblins who haunt the synagogue and are trying to derail any effort to observe the Hanukkah rituals.
While this is a rather fictional story the parallels to the real Hanukkah story are rather clear and can be a really useful opener for meaningful conversation about the history of the Jewish people.
3. The Night Before Hanukkah by Natasha Wing
The Night Before Hanukkah is a beautiful book that is on many Jewish families’ bookshelves, telling the adventurous story of Ryan and his family.
Ryan lives in New York City and every year on the night before Hanukkah, Ryan can’t wait to light the menorah, and we experience this excitement with Ryan and his family as they share traditions like eating latkes, playing dreidel, and exchanging gifts.
4. Grover’s Eight Nights of Light by Jodie Shepherd
We maybe never have seen this on the television show, but Grover is Jewish, and celebrates Hanukkah!
In this book, Grover invites his friends to a Hanukkah party, and everyone is there, from Elmo to Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Ernie, and so many more.
While this book is a good time, it also shares the story of Hanukkah’s origins and traditions, from lighting the menorah to playing dreidel and eating latkes. It’s also just a beautiful example of friendship and kindness that we all can use — from kids to adults!
5. In a Latke Trouble by Dori Weinstein
In a Latke Trouble is the fourth installment in the popular YaYa & YoYo book series by author Dori Weinstein, and while it’s about Hanukkah, it’s also about universal themes like bravery and the dangers of group conformity. We watch the twins try to make good choices as they face peer pressure, and just try to be good people in a difficult world.
6. Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah by Sylvia A. Rouss
The book is sweet and fun and watches Sammy Spider as he watches the Shapiro family light candles each night of Hanukkah.
Sammy is sad because he really wants to take part in the celebration himself, but he can’t, because he’s a spider. But ultimately he discovers a way to join in on the celebration.
7. The Dreidel that Wouldn’t Spin by Martha Seif Simpson
This book is not only a lovely story but it’s also simply a stunning book, with lots of incredible illustrations that illustrate the story.
These illustrations are also helpful to children’s developing minds because it helps them to visualize more of what is happening in the story about a miracle that happens in a toy shop.
8. Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match by Rabbi Ron Isaacs
This is a lovely book about Hanukkah but also Jewish principles, including treating animals with kindness.
The story tells of Kobi, a farmer who adores animals and is having difficulty finding a perfect partner who will love him. It’s a sweet story with the backdrop of Hanukkah, which will be loved even by children who do not celebrate the holiday.
In addition to 8 great books for every night of Hanukkah, we’ve rounded up 8 great gifts for kids at every age & stage:
1. Personalized Wooden Block Name Menorah
Fits up to 10 letters, plus 1 Star of David block on top of the first block for the shamash.
(Modern Tribe, $95)
2. Monica & Andy Pretzel Layette
Made with the softest organic cotton this two-layer burp cloth is super-absorbent and extra soft for a baby’s sensitive skin.
3. Beatles Collection Magna-Tiles Structure Set
Build the Magical Mystery Tour Bus, a record player, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds Kaleidoscope, The Beatles Album Collage, and two different bass drums.
(Check prices and reviews on Amazon)
4. Kodak Mini Shot 2 Retro Portable Wireless Instant Camera & Photo Printer
Shoot and print snapshots anytime and anywhere. Print them directly from the Kodak Mini Shot 2 Retro or connect them to any mobile device via Bluetooth to print from the photo gallery quickly and effortlessly.
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(Check prices and reviews on Amazon)
5. Montessori Cooking Together Kit
Enjoy cooking together safely with this educator-designed kitchen set for children as young as 18 months. May we suggest tackling these DIY Hanukkah sugar cookies first?
(Monti Kids, $75)
6. Follies Toy, The Canvas Set
The perfect gift for creative kids. 30 pieces in total that work like a whiteboard: kids draw, then wipe away and store flat after they are done. Make spaceships, a city, a nook for your puppy, the possibilities are endless.
7. Pottery With A Purpose
Design, sculpt and decorate an original work of art with simple, step-by-step instructions. Learn how to make a pinch pot, versatile footed pot, hanging planet … or throw caution to the wind and shape something entirely original.
(Pottery With A Purpose, prices vary)
8. Star of Susan Necklace
A slightly depressed, anxious, sarcastic, wise Star of David by New York designer Susan Alexandra.
(Susan Alexandra, $128)
(And for the sweet tooths in the family, you can’t go wrong with this Dylan’s Candy Mini Hanukkah Bear.)
Aly Walansky has written more than 700 articles for Yourtango on lifestyle topics. You can follow her on Twitter. Andrea Zimmerman is the editor-at-large at Yourtango. She enjoys reading, traveling, and reading while traveling. Follow her on Instagram @angiecat86 or email her at [email protected]
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