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10 Hanukkah Books That Will Delight Everyone in the Family

They make great Hanukkah gifts, too.

hanukkah books for kids

Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays of the Jewish year. Sure, it's not as religiously significant as other holidays, but there's just something so magical about it. I guess because the whole holiday revolves around spending time with family and a miracle of fire, it feels fun and special to me. As a parent, I want it to be just as special to my kids. Over the years, I've tried to find ways to help my kids feel connected to Hanukkah in a way that helps them engage with Judaism and the miracle of lights in a meaningful way, which is why I find Hanukkah books for kids so valuable.

Kids who aren't Jewish can benefit from these books, too. After all, raising our kids with accepting, inclusive, diverse books and toys helps them to become accepting and welcoming of all different kinds of people, of all different religions. Just like you might recall from your own childhood, the books we read to our children become fixed memories. They settle into the nooks and crannies of our children's brains and influence them in subtle ways throughout their lives — which is all the more reason to make those memories count.

Every book on this list is one I've read and loved with my own children. They are wildly beautiful and evocative and are absolutely worthy of a spot on your bookshelf.

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1 ‘Maccabee!: The Story of Hanukkah’ by Tilda Balsley
Kar-Ben Publishing (Tm) amazon.com

I've read this to my kids so many times that I can basically quote the entire thing. This is a graphic novel-style retelling of the story of the Maccabees, if somewhat less gory than it likely was in all reality. 

It's light and entertaining but really gives kids a ton of insight into the holiday's historical significance and the power of the holiday.

More: Books About Racism and the Black Experience in America

2 ‘Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match’ by Karen Rostoker-Gruber and Rabbi Ron Isaacs
Apples & Honey Press amazon.com

One of the best things about this book is that it doesn't just talk about Hanukkah and the joys of that holiday. It also brings in specific Jewish values like that of treating animals kindly (tza'ar ba'alei chayy­im). 

The story is about Kobi, a sweet farmer who loves animals, who is having a hard time finding a suitable match who will love him, and his silly band of merry farm animals who happen to come in and out of his house at will. Don't worry — there's totally a happily ever after, a Hanukkah miracle all on its own.

3 ‘Jackie’s Gift’ by Sharon Robinson
Viking Juvenile amazon.com

This book is based on a true story, and even though the story is nearly 100 years old, it feels more prescient than ever. It's the tale of what happened when Jackie Robinson moved into a predominately white and Jewish neighborhood and came up against horrifying racism. 

In spite of that, he befriends his neighbor, Jewish boy Steve Sat­low. When Jackie learns Steve doesn't have a Christmas tree, mensch that he is, he buys one for him, not realizing why Steve doesn't have one. It's a beautiful gesture that causes a lot of hubbubs and ultimately leads to a greater understanding between communities. 

The resolution isn't exactly perfect, and 100 years later, tensions still exist, but it does show how much small relationships can matter. 

4 ‘Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale’ by Eric A. Kimmel
Disney Hyperion amazon.com

Hanukkah ... this time make it double the miracles. 

In this tale, Simon is making the trek across the Atlantic with only some food, a Hanukkah menorah, candles, and matches. On the way, his boat hits an iceberg, and he gives his seat up on a lifeboat for another passenger. The poor boy is left alone on that iceberg but along comes a polar bear, and Simon being Simon, he shares his herring and lakes with the bear, who then keeps him warm and safe. On the seventh night, when he lights the menorah, something magical happens.

It's a sweet Hanukkah book for kids with beautiful illustrations and a beautiful message.

5 ‘Biscuit’s Hanukkah’ by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Harper Collins walmart.com

This is a really simple and sugary-sweet story about a little girl who loves her puppy, Biscuit, and she talks to him, telling him all about the traditions of Hanukkah. He “helps” her with the menorah, with nosh (of course), and generally just keeps by her side as she celebrates the holiday.

6 ‘Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas’ by Pamela Ehrenberg
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr) amazon.com

In a beautiful celebration of a multiethnic home, this Hanukkah book for kids, Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas features an Indian-Jewish sibling set, frequently at odds with one another, as siblings are wont to be. 

Little Sophie frequently irritates her brother by climbing over everything, but when locked out of the house on Hanukkah, her climbing may be what saves them. 

I love that this story includes different diasporic traditions. In Sophie's house, they don't fry latkes for Hanukkah, they fry dosas. In my own Chinese-Jewish home, we add dumplings and spring rolls to our fryer. Judaism is a world religion with many ways to celebrate holidays, and this book shows that.

7 ‘Kayla and Kugel’s Happy Hanukkah’ by Ann D. Keffsky
Apples and Honey Press walmart.com

A girl and her dog, right? This Hanukkah book is a wild romp starring a rambunctious girl and her equally exuberant dog. They try on Purim costumes, find the menorah, and express joy over the various fun elements of the Hanukkah holiday. It’s all about children’s hijinks and the happiness of the holiday.

8 ‘Gracie’s Night: A Hanukkah Story’ by Lynn Taylor Gordon
Cookie & Nudge Books amazon.com

This kids' Hanukkah book highlights one of the biggest mitzvot (commandments) to the Jewish people: help those less fortunate.

Gracie's family isn't wealthy, but they love deeply and truly. Gracie somehow saves enough money to buy her grandfather a few Hanukkah presents but finds herself at a crossroads when she is confronted with those who have even less than her family.

9 ‘Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah’ by Sylvia A. Rouss
Kar-Ben Publishing amazon.com

I promise that this book is not at all reminiscent of that other children's book with a titular spider. Sammy is just a happy spider guy hanging out at Josh Shapiro's house, and this time our eight-legged friend is observing the Shapiros light the Hanukkah candles on the eighth night of the holiday.

10 ‘The Dreidel that Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah’ by Martha Seif Simpson
Wisdom Tales amazon.com

A little magic and mystery surround this Hanukkah book for kids. The story happens in a toyshop run by a cheerful, kind man. 

During Hanukkah, two spoiled, mean children come in and find that the dreidel won't spin for them. They go full Veruca Salt on the shopkeeper, blaming him for the problem. But the shopkeeper wonders if a child with the truest meaning of the holiday in their heart can make the dreidel spin?

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