There are no shortage of books on Chanukah. Despite the fact that Chanukah is not one of the major Jewish holidays, there are lots of books, some of which aren’t so good, written about the holiday. I suppose it’s because Chanukah almost always begins in December and sometimes overlaps with Christmas (like it does this year). Anyway, I digress. I could go on and on about how Chanukah has lost its true meaning in American society, but I won’t since this is a post about Chanukah books! If you’re looking for more information about the holiday, then click here or here.
I was getting ready to write this post about Chanukah yesterday when a box arrived on my doorstep. Inside of the box was one of the thickest and most gorgeous Chanukah books I’ve ever seen. I opened the front cover of Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda’s pop-up book, Chanukah Lights, and was immediately impressed. The prose is gorgeous. The paper-cut pop-outs are gorgeous. The concept is gorgeous.
The book takes readers through 2,000 years of history reminding us that Jews have struggled to become a free people. It reminds us that Jews cannot take their religious freedom or this holiday for granted. The books takes readers along on a boat ride to the new world where Judaism has flourished. It brings readers to the shtetls of Eastern Europe and to a tenement apartment where the promise of a better life is hoped for as the Chanukah lights are kindled. The book’s prose and artwork even take readers to the Land of Israel to a Kibbutz where “the promise of a Promised Land is, every day, renewed.”
Take a look inside this book:
Chanukah Lights is the kind of Chanukah book that has to be treated delicately due to the intricate nature of the artwork. If you buy it for your classroom, then it’s going to have to be a read aloud book. It’s one of those books that’s far too nice to keep in the holiday basket in your classroom library. (For anyone buying Chanukah Lights for their home, it’s certainly going to become a family heirloom you take out on Chanukah each year.)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about some additional books you might want to get your hands on about Chanukah.
For the youngest readers:
- Hanukkah: A Counting Book by Emily Sper: This book was sent to Isabelle from the PJ Library. I love it since it contains English, Hebrew, and Yiddish!
- Where is Baby’s Dreidel by Karen Katz: Isabelle’s aunt and uncle just gave this book to her as part of her Chanukah present this past weekend. It’s a lift-the-flap board book. Very cute.
For older children (and adults too):
- Letter on the Wind: A Chanukah Tale is written by Sarah Marwil Lamstein and illustrated by Neil Waldman. This book is a retelling of a famous Jewish folktale and makes readers think about what would happen if they were unable to celebrate Chanukah.
- Jackie’s Gift, which is written by Sharon Robinson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis, is a story about Chanukah, Christmas, and the great baseball player Jackie Robinson. I reviewed this book during the 2010 holiday season. Click here to learn more about it.
- One Candle is a picture book written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by K. Wendy Popp. Two words for you: Eve Bunting. You know you can’t go wrong with an Even Bunting book, right? But I will say more… It’s a story about a family who gathers together on Chanukah every hear and listens to the tale of their grandmother and their great-aunt who are Holocaust survivors. They share their special story, every year, on the first night of Chanukah, with their family about the way they celebrated Chanukah when they were young girls imprisoned at Buchenwald.
- Papa’s Latkes is written by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by Stacey Schuett. It’s a touching story that is about two young girls whose mother died. It’s their first Chanukah without her and without her infamous latkes.
- Pearl’s Eight Days of Chanukah by Jane Breskin Zalben contains a story and an activity for each night of Chanukah. There are directions for making your own puppets and for even making your own dreidel.
- The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays is written by Malka Drucker and illustrated by Nancy Patz. This is my go-to “anthology” for Jewish holiday stories. There are several short stories about Chanukah plus it includes the blessings over the Chanukah lights.
Here are some additional Chanukah-related resources. (If you’re not interested in art, cooking, music, or poetry-related resources, then scroll to the bottom of this post where information about the book giveaway can be found.)
ART: Want to do more than just read about Chanukah? (If you’re in a public school, please remember to make sure you aren’t favoring one holiday more than another… equal time is the key.) If you’re looking for Chanukah-related art projects, then check out Amy Deutsch’s post on Raising Kvell. She has lots of ideas for easy art projects you can do for Chanukah.
COOKING: Latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (jelly donuts), and gelt (chocolate candy in the shape of money). Here’s a link to my favorite latke recipe, which a fellow blogger, Nancy Cavillones, gave me in 2009.
POETRY: Eight Winter Nights: A Family Hanukkah Book written by Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrated by Elisabeth Schlossberg –> I wrote a post about this book last year since it can serve as serve a mentor text for students who wish to write focused, holiday-related poems. Click here to read the post about this book.
- A special thank you to Candlewick Press for sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of Chanukah Lights for one of our readers.
- To win a copy of the book please leave a comment about this post, in the comments section of this post by Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST, which is the eighth night of Chanukah. A random drawing will take place on Wednesday, December 28th, and the winner’s name will be announced in a blog post later that day.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address and have my contact at Candlewick send the book out to you. Please note: Your e-mail address will not be published online.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).