Hanukkah Books

Lights, latkes, and love are all elements of Hanukkah that are found in these engaging stories. Children will delight in hearing tales of the the history of the holiday and books highlighting familiar traditions shared with family and friends. Sit back and enjoy some extra cuddles while celebrating Hanukkah with these outstanding seasonal stories!

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Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah by Sylvia Rouss; illustrated by Katherina Janus Kahn

(Ages 3 and up)

My preschool students loved hearing this endearing tale about a spider who observes a Jewish family lighting candles each night of Hanukkah. Concepts of colors and counting are woven into the story making it a good read aloud choice for educators.

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Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel; illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

(Ages 4 and up)

During a comical case of mixed-up identity, an elderly woman mistakes a bear for a rabbi and serves him latkes and plays dreidel with him on the first night of Hanukkah. It is hard not to smile at this amusing and sweet story.

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Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster; illustrated by Sue Eastland

(Ages 4 and up)

In this Hanukkah-themed reimaging of Little Red Riding Hood, Ruthie is a clever girl who outsmarts a hungry wolf by feeding him platefuls of latkes. Aspects of the holiday are skillfully woven throughout the story culminating in Ruthie sharing the victory of the Maccabees and the importance of the oil. This entertaining book even comes with a potato latke recipe in the back!

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The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl; illustrated by Shahar Kober, 2020

(Ages 4 and up)

When a family moves into a new apartment building and discovers the box containing their traditional Hanukkah items is missing, they enlist the help of their neighbors to create a makeshift celebration for each of the eight nights. Inspired by the shamash, the helper candle, the children kindly invite all of their neighbors to a special party to thank them for their generous aid.  I absolutely love the children’s positive attitude to make the best out of a disappointing situation and the thoughtfulness of the diverse group of neighbors.

The backmatter includes information on the shamash candle and provides ideas on how to honor helpers in the community.

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Hanukkah Cookies With Sprinkles by David Adler

(Ages 5 and up)

This touching story focuses on the Jewish custom of tzedakah (giving to the poor). When Sara notices a man taking a bruised apple from a bin, she begins leaving food for him and ultimately invites him to her family’s Hanukkah celebration. With a message of compassion, engaging illustrations, and additional notes on the traditions of Hanukkah, this is an excellent read aloud choice.

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Maccabee: The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler; illustrated by Jill Weber

(Ages 5 and up)

This is an excellent book for teaching children the history of Hanukkah. It should be noted that since the holiday is based on a military victory, many scenes depict weapons and fighting. The story ends by demonstrating how the traditions of Hanukkah are kept alive today and includes a recipe for latkes and instructions on how to play dreidel.

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The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser; illustrated by Nancy Cote

(Ages 5 and up)

Each year Rachel’s mother invites their lonely neighbor, Mrs. Greenberg, into their home to celebrate Hanukkah with them and every year she refuses. When Rachel’s family receives word that they will have eight additional guests, Rachel borrows ingredients from Mrs. Greenberg until she cleverly finds a way to include the elderly women in their celebration. Cheerful illustrations fill the pages of this uplifting tale about family and friends.

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All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

(Ages 4 and up)

Based on the classic book series by Sydney Taylor, this story follows a large family as they prepare latkes together during the first night of Hanukkah in 1912. Gertie, the youngest, feels left out until her Papa allows her the honor of lighting the first candle on the menorah. An author’s note gives the history behind the original series starring an immigrant family as they settle into life in New York City in the early 1900’s.

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Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift by Dara Goldman

(Ages 5 and up)

In this adorable retelling of The Gift of the Magi, Boris and Stella are two bears preparing for the holidays. While Boris celebrates Hanukkah and Stella observes Christmas, both friends sell a treasured item to buy the other a generous present. Once the gifts are exchanged, the bears realize that the gift of friendship is much more valuable than any possession. It is difficult to find a story that represents both Christian and Jewish traditions, and this one is a gem.

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