Hanukkah Books for Toddlers to School-Age Kids

As Hanukkah draws near, families prepare to share traditions of the season with their children.  A new book is always a perfect gift, but when it’s a book about the celebration of Hanukkah, it affords children the opportunity to sit in the company of the adults who love them, learn about their heritage and create new memories and special times.  Below are some suggestions.


Hershel and The Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Clever Hershel of Ostropol has figured out a way to trick the Hanukkah goblins that haunt the old synagogue and return the practice of celebrating Hanukkah to the villagers once more.


I Have a Little Dreidel by Maxie Baum and Illustrated by Julie Paschkis

A rhyming story, set to the refrain of the Dreidel Song, about the arrival of a little girl’s extended family to her home to celebrate Hanukkah.  Love of family is on every page with beautiful illustrations.


Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert and Paintings by Karla Gudeon

Perfect for small children, this book is about lighting the menorah, with the pages cleverly unfolding, so you can see more than one page and illustration at a time.  As each candle is lit, a new tradition unfolds. 


Hanukkah:  A Counting Book in English, Hebrew and Yiddish by Emily Sper

Also perfect for young children, this is an instructional book, as well as a counting book, on the tradition of the Festival of Lights with colorful illustrations and pronunciation guides.


Hanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel and Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

Bubba Brayna is preparing her Hanukkah feast for the rabbi.  Instead, she gets a surprise visitor – a hungry bear – who she mistakes for the rabbi.  The bear winds up celebrating the Festival of Lights with this sweet generous woman, who only realizes her mistake when her real guests show up later on.  


A Confused Hanukkah by Jon Koons and Illustrated by S.D. Schindler

An adorable story set in the village of Chelm, where one day the rabbi takes a walk and doesn’t return.  No one is quite sure where he went or when he’ll be back.  The season of Hanukkah is approaching, no one from the village can quite remember how it’s celebrated, so they send simple-minded Yossel from their community to a neighboring village to observe and report back to them how the Festival of Lights should be celebrated.  Yossel returns with the wrong traditions.  Very comical take based on the legendary town of fools. 


Inside-Out Grandma:  A Hanukkah Story by Joan Rothenberg

As young Rosie sits with her grandmother, she notices that her grandmother is wearing her clothes inside-out.  When she asks her about it, she hears a very long explanation that just so happens to touch on all of her family’s Hanukkah traditions.  


Hooray for Hanukkah! by Fran Manushkin and Illustrated by Carolyn Croll

Told from the perspective of the menorah, this joyful and happy story is all about a family getting together to celebrate the season of Hanukkah. 


A Family Hanukkah by Bobbi Katz and Illustrated by Caryl Herzfeld

A brother and sister eagerly await the coming of Hanukkah, but have trouble deciding what gifts to give the members of their extended family.  The story unfolds as they discover the festivities aren’t just about what they can buy but rather what they can give.  Gorgeous illustrations and evocative details make this a true classic.


When Mindy Saved Hanukkah by Eric A. Kimmel and Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

The little Klein family, who lives behind the walls of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, is foiled in their attempts to celebrate Hanukkah thanks to the synagogue’s new cat, hired to deal with the mice in the sanctuary.  It’s up to Mindy, the bravest little girl, to go out into the synagogue and get the Shamash.  


Amy Warren is a freelance writer and mother of two young children.



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08 Dec 2014

By Amy Warren