Books to Celebrate Hanukkah

There is a book I like to share with my students during the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah. Toby Belfer Never Had a Christmas Tree written by Gloria Teles Pushker and illustrated by Judith Hierstein explains the Jewish festival of lights and its traditions in an easy-to-understand way.

Toby Belfer’s family is the only Jewish family in her community. She has been invited to her friends’ houses to trim trees and sing carols, but Toby celebrates in another way. One December evening Toby invites her friends to come to her house to help celebrate Hanukkah. She tells them the story of Judah Maccabee and his followers, their search for religious freedom, and why Hanukkah candles are lit for eight days.

The book introduces words such as Torah, latkas, matzo meal, menorah, dreidel, gelt, and Ner Tamid. At the end of the book there is a recipe for potato latkas, rules for the game of dreidel, and how to make a menorah. It’s an excellent way to educate young children about different religions and holiday traditions.

Newer Hanukkah Books:  Eight Winter Nights:  A Family Hanukkah Book by Laura Krauss Melmed (Chronicle Books, October 2010), The Miracle Jar:  A Hanukkah Story by Audrey Penn (Tanglewood Press; Reprint Edition, November 2010), An Adventure in Latkaland, A Hanukkah Story by Karen Fisman (Jora Books, October 2010)

Another Favorite:  Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky (Dutton Juvenile, 2006)

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