Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the miracle of the one-day supply of oil that burned for eight days when the Holy Temple was rededicated after it had been destroyed by their enemies in the 2nd century BC. The Macabees led the revolt and were able to claim their place of worship from those that sought to destroy it.
In the multi-cultural society of the 21st century, children are often inundated with all sorts of information about various holidays and forms of worship. It is up to each parent to decide what and how they want their child to be taught. Many non-Jewish people now celebrate Hanukkah for a variety of reasons. Whether your family is a traditional Jewish family or you would just like your family to know more about the celebration of the Festival of Lights, here are some children's books that would be fun to share at this time of year.
"Hanukkah in Alaska" by Barbara Brown and Stacey Schuett (Henry Holt and Co., Oct. 2013) Alaska at Hanukkah time only has five hours of daylight, so when a moose is discovered camped out in one little girl's backyard, she has a short amount of time to get him away from her favorite swing. It isn't until the last night of Hanukkah that she finds a solution.
"Papa's Latkes" by Michelle Edwards and Stacey Schuett (Candlewick, Sept. 2004) Selma, Dora and their Papa will be celebrating Hanukkah for the first time without Mama. How will they have the special latkes Mama made every year? When Papa says they will make them, Selma knows nothing will ever be the same without Mama. Will the latkes be a disaster or a success?
"Hanukkah Moon" by Deborah Da Costa and Gosia Mosz (Kar-Ben Publishing, Sept. 2007) Isobel isn't sure about spending Hanukkah at her new aunt Luisa's house. Will they still play dreidel or swing at a pinata? Will they eat latkes? Isobel is pleasantly surprised when she sees how Aunt Luisa celebrates the Jewish holiday.
"Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift" by Dara Goldman (Sleeping Bear Press, Sept. 2013) Boris and Stella are the best of friends; Boris celebrates Hanukkah and Stella celebrates Christmas. They each want to give the other the perfect present, but neither has much money to spend. What will they sacrifice to make their friend happy?
"Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah" by Linda Glaser and Nancy Cote (Albert Whitman & Company, Jan. 2004) Since Rachel will not be able to celebrate Hanukkah with her entire family untili next week, she decides to celebrate with her neighbor. She will help Mrs. Greenberg make latkes!
"The Hanukkah Trike" by Michelle Edwards and Kathryn Mitter (Albert Whitman & Company, Sept. 2010) Gabi loves everything about Hanukkah. She loves it so much that she decides to name her new trike Hanukkah. However, Gabi isn't successful the first few times she rides it. Will she put it away or find the courage to try one more time?
"Jodie's Hanukkah Dig" by Anne Levine and Ksenia Topaz (Kar-Ben Publishing, Sept. 2009) Jodie is on an archaeological dig in Israel with her father when she makes an exciting discovery. Is it possible that she could actually find something that once belonged to those heroes, the Macabees?
"The Eighth Menorah" by Lauren L. Wohl and Laura Hughes (Albert Whitman & Company, Sept. 2013) Sam has been busy working on a clay menorah in his Hebrew school class. He worries, though, that his family will not use it because they already have seven at home! Sam finds the perfect home for his little menorah though, one that satisfies everyone.