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One for Each Night:
8 Picture Books for Hanukkah

by Liz Lesnick

Hanukkah is commonly known as the Festival of Lights, but in our family, it has become the Festival of Books. After many years of present shopping mishegoss (Yiddish for craziness), we decided that we would give each other books instead of toys, ties, and tchotchkes (Yiddish for trinkets). This year will be particularly special because we will be celebrating with our newborn niece. Entre nous, as my bubbe used to say, here are the picture books I am planning to give her.

  • Chanukah Lights

    by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Robert Sabuda

    I plan to give my niece Chanukah Lights on the last night of the holiday. It’s the literary equivalent of ending a concert with the “1812 Overture” accompanied by fireworks. Robert Sabuda’s extraordinary pop-ups (really paper sculptures) are the perfect match for Michael Rosen’s beautiful poem, “Chanukah Lights.” Each double-page spread features Hanukkah in a different setting from shtetl to kibbutz to the New World. Watch this video to experience the magic of this exquisite book.

  • Hanukkah: A Counting Book

    by Emily Sper

    Like any good aunt, I think know that my niece is brilliant! I bet that as soon as she reads Emily Sper’s brightly illustrated board book, she’ll be counting to eight in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish before the last night of Hanukkah.

  • The Hanukkah Mice

    by Ronne Randall, illustrated by Maggie Kneen

    In this charming book, a family of mice searches the house where they live for items to celebrate Hanukkah. Each page features a glowing menorah with an increasing number of candles and flaps hiding different symbols associated with the holiday. Young children will delight in the glittering illustrations and surprises found on every page.

  • Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

    by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

    My niece is probably too young for one of my favorite Hanukkah books, but I want to make sure that she has it in her library. This Caldecott Honor-winning classic is set in an Eastern European village whose inhabitants are prevented from celebrating Hanukkah by a band of goblins who hate the holiday. Enter Hershel, a weary traveler determined to drive out the goblins and celebrate Hanukkah with plenty of the latkes he loves.

  • My First Chanukah

    by Tomie dePaola

    Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona books have long been family favorites, so I was delighted to discover that he had created a Hanukkah book. I know my niece will sink her teeth (literally and figuratively) into this beautifully illustrated board book, which provides a gentle introduction to the customs and symbols of the holiday.

  • Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Hanukkah with Light, Latkes, and Dreidels

    by Deborah Heiligman

    I love National Geographic’s Holidays Around the World series, which is filled with the extraordinary images that we’ve come to expect from the magazine. This book is as much a present for my brother and sister-in-law as it is for my niece. I know they will love the photographs of Jewish people around the world, from Ghana to India to Israel, celebrating Hanukkah — a powerful reminder of the diversity of the Jewish people.

  • The Story of Hanukkah

    by David A. Adler, iIllustrated by Jill Weber

    What kind of an aunt would I be if I forgot to give my niece a book that tells the story?! Between the cooking and shopping and celebrating, even grown-ups need to be reminded of how the Maccabees defeated the vast Syrian army who occupied the Jews’ Temple and the miracle of the single jar of oil which kept the Temple’s Eternal Light illuminated for eight days. Jill Weber’s vibrant paintings and David Adler’s engaging narrative make the story come alive for readers young and old.

  • Where Is Baby's Dreidel?

    by Karen Katz

    I love giving Karen Katz books to young children. Katz knows exactly how to create a magical combination of words, pictures, and flaps that engage children over and over again. I know that my niece will love lifting the flaps on every page as she tries to help the baby find the dreidel while learning about Hanukkah traditions along the way.

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