A Gift Guide: Hanukkah Books for Children of All Ages
As a chill hits the air in the northeast, the holiday season feels near. Hanukkah comes early this year, beginning at sundown on Thursday, December 7, 2023.
For eight nights, the Jewish people will light menorahs in remembrance of their people’s fight for religious freedom and to celebrate the miracle that the tiny amount of oil recovered after battle kindled the holy light for the eight days needed to receive more.
Traditionally celebrated with games of dreidel and mouthfuls of latkes and jelly donuts, Hanukkah became a gift giving occasion in the 1800s, as Jewish immigrants to America raised the profile of the holiday to include Jewish children in the magic of the holiday season.
If you are looking for Hanukkah gifts that educate Jewish children on the meaning and joy of this holiday tradition, below is an overview of the best books on the market from babyhood to young adult.
EARLY CHILDHOOD (Infancy to 6 years)
Biscuit’s Hanukkah by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Biscuit, everyone’s favorite curious, yellow puppy, shares the Hanukkah tradition with young children as he helps his friend make a meaningful Hanukkah gift.
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins
First published in the 1950s, the All-of-a-Kind chapter book series helped generations of Jewish children understand their origin story from Europe to the Lower East Side of NYC in the early 1900s.
In this picture book format for younger children, this famed family of five daughters shares the timelessness of the Hanukkah tradition.
Hanukkah! by Roni Schotter
On the darkest December night, a family’s celebration of the 2,000 year old tradition of Hanukkah warms the heart. The picture book shares the holiday’s simple traditions in rhyme, reminding the givers that the best present is the gift of family.
Little Red Ruthie – A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster
The classic story of Little Red Riding Hood comes with a Hanukkah twist. In this adaptation, the big bad wolf encounters the red-hooded heroine traveling through the forest to celebrate Hanukkah with her grandmother. Only the powerful flavor of latkes can save her.
A Hanukkah With Mazel by Joel Stein
Cat people rejoice. This is the Hanukkah book for you. Misha, a poor artist, finds company in the holiday season with a hungry barn cat, Mazel. Mazel inspires Misha to create something beautiful to celebrate each night.
MIDDLE CHILDHOOD (Age 6 to 12)
Meet the Latkes by Alan Silberberg
The Latke family is just like any other, rich with love, but light on the answers to big questions like “what is Hanukkah?”
When Lucy Latke’s family lights their menorah, Grandpa Latke doesn’t have his facts straight. The family dog schools the clueless family on the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of light.
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg
A multicultural look at the Hanukkah tradition, Sadie’s family celebrates the holiday with Indian dosas, a South Indian crepe made with fermented rice and lentil batter.
Sadie follows her Jewish Indian family to the Indian grocery store, climbing on everything and getting into mischief. When the family gets locked out of the house before their Hanukkah party, Sadie is there to save the day and the dosas.
Potatoes at Turtle Rock by Anna Schnur-Fishman and Susan Schnur
Inspire new Hanukkah traditions with a book that encourages outside-the-box celebrations. One family embarks on a nighttime journey around their farm to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. The humble potato inspires the family to celebrate the miracle of lights with traditions new and old.
Dreidels on the Brain by Joel ben Izzy
Joel, an awkward 1970s pre-teen magician, relies on his tricks and Jewish humor to survive adolescence in a not-so-Jewish suburban town.
When he is asked to teach his whole school about Hanukkah at the Winter Holiday Assembly, his chutzpah and showmanship help him to shine and embrace his heritage.
Like a Maccabee by Barbara Bietz
As Hanukkah season rolls around, ten-year-old Ben’s soccer team enters the league championships. All would be well, but for the school bully who is making victory taste a little less sweet.
When his grandfather comes to town for the holidays, he gains wisdom and strength that will teach him how to play the game on the field and in life.
YOUNG ADULT (13 years +)
Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds
16-year old Shira Barbanel is on a mission to find herself a winter boyfriend for Hanukkah. When her nemesis becomes her sherpa in flirting, she realizes that she cannot control what the heart wants.
One for Each Night: The Greatest Chanukah Stories of All Time by Sholom Aleichem (Author), Elie Wiesel (Author), and others
In a rich collection of essays by the most important Jewish voices of our time, Chanukah comes to life with humor and heart. Stories, which hail from Israel, Africa, Central Europe and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, detail the meaning of the holiday from all corners of the diaspora.
Eight Dates and Nights by Betsy Aldrege
A nice Jewish girl from New York finds herself celebrating the holidays in a snowed-in small town in Texas. This unlikely situation sets her path in motion to meet the only other Jewish teenager in town. Over a game of truth or dare dreidel, romance kindles the lights of Hanukkah.
It’s a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman
Discover what it means to be Jewish in a collection of short stories by Jewish teens that is LOL funny, while tugging at heartstrings.
From Hanukkah party pranks to summer camp romance, the stories confront the intersection of youth culture with the ancient religion, highlighting the diversity of the modern Jewish experience.
Want to give budding bookworms the gift that keeps on giving? Sign up your young Jewish friends and family for PJ Library, an organization that sends high-quality Jewish children’s books to families around the world every month, completely free.
The stories, along with PJ Library’s vast online resources and community events, spark conversations that inspire the whole family to celebrate what they love about Jewish life.