holiday · Read Aloud · stories

Happy Chanukah + a Book Giveaway

A stunning new Chanukah book that celebrates a great miracle.

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:

Text copyright Michael J. Rosen, Illustration copyright Robert Sabuda. Reproduced by permission of Candlewick press.

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. 

MUSIC:  The Maccabeats have two great Chanukah songs “Candlelight” and “Miracle.”  Click here to go to their website where you can view videos for each of their Chanukah songs.

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.

25 thoughts on “Happy Chanukah + a Book Giveaway

  1. I got to hold this book last week at a book store but of course it was wrapped so I couldn’t look inside. Thanks for sharing! Have the Christmas one but would love to have this one so all my kids could experience their holiday in such a beautiful way.


  2. Well I shall not be that lucky to win such a wonderful book. However, I must say that this book is not only very attractive but also, very useful.
    I teach my undergraduate students a course on interculturalism and this book can be a good example for the material that should be placed in a multicultural classroom.


  3. Thanks for this terrific list of resources, covering all ages, as well as visual and literary arts! The featured book does look especially gorgeous, but each item you mention will surely enrich students’ and families’ knowledge of Chanukah.


  4. What a fabulous book! There are not as many Chanukah books versus Christmas books and this would be a great one to add to anyone’s collection! Thank you for sharing!


  5. What an inspired book….truly a treasure for any time of the year! I am a huge Robert Sabuda fan and so happy to see he has touched our lives with another artistic wonder!


  6. What an interesting blog. My first time reading here. Chanukah is a little different in Beer Sheva, Israel, where we live, because kids are out of school. Plenty of time to plan outings and visit family. Not to mention the pressure of lighting Friday night right before Shabbat! We have a little metal house that we attach on our outside wall that is decorated with our drawings and we light tea candles that last for a good long time. On our Chanukah house it says: V’hidliku nerot b’chatzrot Kodshecha. “And we kindled lights in Your holy courtyard.” In this way we invest holiness even in our home.


    1. @Miriam: What a joy it is to see that you read my post from halfway around the world. Thank you for sharing your family’s wonderful Chanukah traditions. The only “quote” I know of that is used in Israel at this time of year is Nes Gadol Haya Po. Nice to learn of another one. Happy Chanukah, Stacey


  7. The book, Hanukkah Lights, would be a welcome addition to our growing collection of Hanukkah books. My child is growing up in a biracial and interfaith household. There is so much “Christmas” around everywhere that I have to make an effort to find some “Hanukkah”. This book would surely help.


  8. I just covered a culture kit with my students and was amazed at how limited my area is in culture. I think that quality literature like this book is a great way to include other cultures into an otherwise culturally narrow group.


  9. Hannakuh Lights looks amazing – three dimensional, to say the least! And isn’t that what we are trying to do when we share books about religious and cultural traitions…expose them to new dimensions and points of view?

    Jackie’s Gift is terrific, too, and gets to the heart of what it is to be a caring neighbor in a multi-cultural world. Every character in that book has a good heart. Love it.

    Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for sharing your wealth of knowledge and understanding about teaching, learning and literature.


  10. This would be a gorgeous book to begin my collection about religous celebrations and ceremonies. I have one in French called Un Hanoukka Noel that is about sharing the holiday between a Christian and Jewish family but doesn’t tell a lot about the history or traditions of either.


  11. This looks like a beautiful book. I would love to have it to use in my classroom. Students today do not seem to have any background knowledge concerning anything beyond their own small worlds, so it is important that they learn about the lives and customs of those different than themselves.


  12. Dear Two Teachers,

    Thank you so much for such a generous and enthusiastic reception of our new book. It’s so much in the spirit of the holiday—at least as I’ve chosen to see it: another window in the community that shares, that shows what’s held dear within.

    Blessings to you and yours, and to all your readers for this, the first night of Chanukah. And for all the celebrations ahead,

    Michael J. Rosen


  13. Another great book about Hannukah is Toby Belfer Never Had a Christmas Tree. It’s the southern (Louisiana) version of a Hannukah story.


  14. It’s a beautiful book, Stacey, and would be a wonderful addition (or gift) to any classroom or family. I have used the Eight Winter Nights book in the past for our holiday writing. You’ve made me nostalgic for the classroom again. We had so many special sharings of our celebrations. Happy first Hanukkah for Isabelle!


  15. Wow, this looks like an amazing book. I always love to see books that have unique formatting, and I would also be interested in the background information provided in the content. Thanks for sharing!


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