Whether you are looking for books to introduce Hanukkah with your students at school, or simply want your own children to be more aware of this holiday, you’ll find lots of great reads here that are just right for primary aged kids!
1. The Story of Hanukkah by David Adler
The story of Hanukkah, which is over two thousand years old, comes to life in this colorful book! It tells about the courageous Maccabees and the miracle which ocurred in the Jerusalem Temple. One of the things I love about this book is that it includes a simple recipe for latkes (potato pancakes) and directions for playing the dreidel game too!
2. The Runaway Dreidel by Leslea Newman
This book is so much fun and reminds me of The Gingerbread Man too! It takes place on the first night of Hanukkah, when a litlle boy is given a shiny new dreidel which won’t stop spinning! The dreidel spins out the door and down the street, with the little boy, his family, and finally the whole town chasing the dreidel as it spins on and on. FInally, we see where the dreidel is going, as the story ends magically!
3. Hanukkah Moon by Deborah da Costa
This book about Hanukkah is very unique. It tells the story of a little girl, named Isobel, who spends Hanukkah with her Aunt Luisa, who recently moved from Mexico to the United States. It shows how some families incorporate the Hanukkah traditions of Mexico, into the holiday. For example, Aunt Luisa has a dreidel shaped pinata filled with chocolates for the children to break, and they also welcome the luna nueva (new moon) which appears during Hanukkah.
4. Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
I really like the way this book shows how families with two different faiths are able to honor both Christmas and Hanukkah traditions. There isn’t a lot of in depth information about Hanukkah in this book, but it shows how a loving family is able to celebrate both holidays meaningfully.
5. The Miracle of Hanukkah by Seymour Chwast
In this nonfiction book, Seymour Chwast explains the origins of Hanukkah. He tells how the Mattathias and the Maccabees defeated the Syrians and reclaimed their Great Temple in Jerusalem in the year 165 B.C.E. When they wanted to rededicate the Temple in an eight day celebration, they found that they only had enough lamp oil to last one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which is the reason Jews everywhere celebrate Hanukkah.
6. Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert
To be honest with you, the title of this book made me do a double take at first! I mean, Haiku is a Japanese poetry form, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but once I read the book, I was pleasantly surprised! Each page contains one haiku for each night of Hanukkah, and a new candle is also added to the menorah with every turning of the page. I found the book to be beautifully illustrated and it was fun learning some of the smaller details of this special holiday.
7. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel
This story is a wonderful tale for older kidsI It tells the story of Hershel, who sees a Synagogue, which is at the edge of town and in disrepair. Hershel soon learns that goblins are living there and trying to ruin the town’s Hanukkah celebrations. Hershel decides to use his wits to make the goblins powerless and to restore the town’s Hanukkah celebrations. I love the detailed illustrations in this story and its strong moral lesson.
8. Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat by Naomi Howland
This is a fun story which reminds me of Tomie de Paola’s Strega Nona. In this story, a poor family feels lucky to have a magic pan, which feeds them as many latkes as they need. One day though, the brothers get into trouble when they use the pan incorrectly!
9. Moishe’s Miracle by Laura Krauss Melmed
This is another book about latkes and if you’ve ever eaten latkes, you may understand why there are so many books about them (delish!). This story tells about Moishe, who gets a magical pan which is able to make as many latkes as he wants to feed his hungry neighbors. This story is full of fun and you may just want to make some latkes after reading it too!
10. Chanukah Lights by Michael J. Rosen
This is a beautiful pop-up book that has white paper cut-outs depicting a variety of Hanukkah scenes from different places and different times. There is one scene per each night’s menorah, making it extra special. You’ll see Herod’s temple, a refugee ship sailing to Israel, a striking set of city skyscrapers, and more!
I hope this collection of books will make it easier to share with your students. Whether we celebrate Hanukkah or not, making children aware of and encouraging them to be more accepting and more respectful of all religions and all people is definitely an important goal.
If you’re looking for a Holidays Around the World resource for 3rd – 6th grades that includes Hanukkah, as well as Christmas, Diwali, Ramadan. St. Lucia’s, and Kwanzaa, you might like to tale a look at this one.
On a personal note, I’d like to dedicate this post in memory of my Grandmother and my father, who were Jewish. Although my father adopted the Christian faith, he always held the Jewish faith in the highest regard and he passed down that feeling to me.
Have a beautiful holiday season!