5 terrific kids books for Hanukkah
Hanukkah, or Chanukah (both spellings are in fact correct) will be celebrated this year on Thursday, December 10th around the world by people of the Jewish faith. It is, like Diwali, a festival of lights and commemorates the victory over a tyrant king and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Traditionally celebrated with the lighting of a candle each night for eight nights, after the battle there was only enough oil to light the Temple's menorah for one night, instead, miraculously, the oil lasted eight days. Fried foods are also traditionally consumed over Hanukkah, so you can choose from latkes or doughnuts (depending on your preference).
1. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Age suitability: 3 years +
This is not a book about the origins of Hanukkah but... it is a funny, clever story with wonderful illustrations about tricking goblins over the eight days of the festival, and what kid doesn't enjoy a tale of cunning and overcoming naughty little goblins? First published in 1989, this is a much-loved classic tale which conjures up a beautiful lost world of magic and some of the more popular Hanukkah traditions.
2. The Story of Hanukkah
by David A.Adler, illustrated by Jill Weber
Age suitability: 0-3 years
If you want the history of Hanukkah specifically, this is a informative telling of the epic tale of the Maccabean Revolt and the oil that miraculously burned for eight nights for young children.
3. Dear Santa, Love Rachel Rosenstein
by Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer, illustrated by Christine Davenier
Age suitability: 2-6 years
Co-written by actress Amanda Peet, this is a a helpful story for parents (not just Jewish ones!) who may have to contend with their child wanting to celebrate Christmas, when as a family, they don't. With the wild enthusiasm of many of their classmates about Santa and the 25th, at this time of the year, this story ultimately embraces differences and recognizes that many families enjoy their own traditions and festivals during the holidays.
4. Hanukkah Moon
by Deborah Da Costa, illustrated by Gosia Mosz
Age suitability: 6-10 years
Focussing on Hanukkah traditions from Latin America, and favouring the Sephardi side of Jewish Culture, this is the story of Aunt Luisa, recently arrived from Mexico. Isobel gets to enjoy a new blend of Jewish and Latin American as she and her aunt celebrate "Januca". For example, Isobel gets to hit a large piñata shaped like a dreidel.
5. Chanukah Lights Everywhere
by Michael Rosen, ilustrated by Melissa Iwai
Age suitability: 4-7 years
Children's favourite (and actually one of ours here at Book Club too!),
Michael Rosen's 'Chanukah' tale tells the story of a brother and sister finding the beauty of lights in the midst of Winter, and, how the lights of Hanukkah are just one kind of special light during this time. Inclusive and warm, this is a lovely way to celebrate the festival with no focus on all the presents!