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Growing Reader


Delightful Children’s Books to Celebrate Hanukkah This Year

by Liz Lesnick


It seems to happen every year — no sooner do we finish Thanksgiving than I realize Hanukkah’s right around the corner. 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), and our tradition has made holiday shopping a pleasure.

This year, I’ve discovered some gems that I can’t wait to gift and share with my nieces. Whether it’s your first Hanukkah or your 50th, I hope these books shed a new light on your holiday.

Gift Guides, Holiday Stories, & More!

  • Hanukkah Lights

    by David Martin, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

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    "Hanukkah candles, shining bright. One more candle every night." This charming picture book honors the traditions of Hanukkah, from the universal (dreidels and latkes) to the household variety (shadow puppetry!). Cozy and festive, this one might even inspire special rituals for your own family.

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  • Meet the Latkes

    by Alan Silberberg

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    It’s the first night of Hanukkah with the Latkes, an unusual family of potato pancakes. While mom and dad are busy in the kitchen frying up jelly donuts, not latkes, Grandpa tells Lucy his uproarious, inaccurate version of the Hanukkah story. Whether you’re Team Sour Cream or Team Applesauce, you and yours are guaranteed to love the Latkes!

    Related: Eight Children’s Books to Read During Hanukkah

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  • Light the Menorah

    by Jannie Ho

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    Everyone remembers being told, “You’re too young to light the menorah, maybe next year.” Now even the littlest family members can light the menorah thanks to pull-tabs that illuminate the candles on each page. I plan to give all of my nieces their own copy so they have their own menorah to light.

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  • The Night Before Hanukkah

    by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer

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    “’Twas the night before the eight days of Hanukkah. Families were prepping from New York to Santa Monida.” With clever rhymes and lively illustrations, The Night Before Hanukkah brims with holiday spirit. This warm-spirited picture book is a delightful introduction to the holiday and its traditions aimed at the littlest celebrants.

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  • All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah

    by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

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    Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie, the beloved sisters of the All-of-a-Kind Family series, return in this charming holiday tale set in 1912 on the Lower East Side of New York City. Old and new fans will delight in the family’s trials and tribulations as they prepare for Hanukkah. All-of-a-Kind Hanukkah is the perfect gift for any night of the holiday.

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  • Honeyky Hanukah

    by Woody Guthrie, illustrated by Dave Horowitz

    Anyone who has ever thought, “I wouldn’t be sorry if I never heard ‘I Had a Little Dreidel’ again” will be thrilled to discover that not only did Woody Guthrie write a Hanukkah song, it’s also been transformed into a brightly illustrated book that includes a recording of the song by The Klezmatics. This is the perfect present for a Hanukkah party — playlist needs solved.

  • Grover’s Eight Nights of Light

    by Jodie Shepherd, illustrated by Joe Mathieu

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    Everyone’s favorite furry blue monster is throwing a Hanukkah party and you’re invited! Your little ones will love learning about the Festival of Lights with Elmo, Cookie, Big Bird, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang. Along with the charming story, Grover’s Eight Nights of Light includes press-out Hanukkah cards, stickers, and games that will keep young readers entertained for eight nights!

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  • Zigazak! A Magical Hanukkah Night

    by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Jon Goodell

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    In this lushly illustrated fable, two devils descend upon the village of Brisk to make mischief on Hanukkah. As they wreak havoc all over Brisk, the devils meet their match in the town’s rabbi. He shows the devils that rather than ruin Hanukkah, their tricks have made the holiday more festive than ever. After all, who wouldn’t find flying latkes and dancing dreidels entertaining?

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  • The Story of Hanukkah

    by David A. Adler, iIllustrated by Jill Weber

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    Between the cooking and shopping and celebrating, even grown-ups may 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.

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  • A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love

    by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

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    If you’re looking for a book that will be read and re-read long after Hanukkah, get a copy of A Hat for Mrs. Goldman. I loved this gentle story about Sophia, a young girl who realizes that her neighbor Mrs. Goldman is always making hats for everyone else, but doesn’t have one herself. She decides to take on the challenge of knitting a hat for Mrs. Goldman — no small feat when you don’t know how to knit. Young readers will be impressed by Sophia’s determination and will learn that you’re never too young to do a mitzvah (good deed).

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  • Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

    by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

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    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.

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  • Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama

    by Selina Alko

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    For many families, holiday season means celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas. I can’t think of a better gift for a blended family than Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama, a joyous embrace of both holidays that’s bound to become a contemporary holiday classic.

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  • Yitzi and the Giant Menorah

    by Richard Ungar

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    A young boy named Yitzi and his fellow villagers in Chelm have received a wondrous gift from the Mayor of Lublin: a giant, vibrant menorah placed in their square, where they gather together each night to watch the lighting of a candle. When the villagers decide to send the Mayor a thank you gift, Yitzi comes up with the perfect idea.

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  • Chanukah Lights

    by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Robert Sabuda

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    I plan to give 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.

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  • Dreidels on the Brain

    by Joel Ben Izzy

    Middle grade readers will delight in this coming-of-age story about the helplessly awkward 12-year-old Joel, who's desperately hoping for a Hanukkah miracle. It's 1971 in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and Joel - an amateur magician - is trying to understand the multiple layers of his identity. Hilarious, fast-paced, and steeped in Jewish tradition, Dreidels on the Brain is an entertaining read for the whole family.

  • In the Land of Happy Tears

    edited by David Stromberg

    Ideal for both year-round reading and holiday celebrations, this collection of 18 Yiddish folk tales newly translated into English will undoubtedly become a treasured household read. Stromberg's selections - oft-overlooked stories from some of the most respected Yiddish writers in history - come together to form an enchanting and deeply meaningful collection, highlighted with an introduction to Yiddish culture, "untranslatables," and notes on the authors.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2020.