￼photo credit: Juniper Books
As the flickering lights of Hanukkah invite us into their warmth and holiness, it feels like the most natural thing in the world to cuddle up with a good book together with those we love.
Reading together has been part of my family’s celebrations for years and many of the reads I recommend have so many precious memories wrapped in them. Thus it is with pure delight to share a a list of Hanukkah reads with a short review of each book.
Between Keren and I, we have many more books to recommend than there are nights of Hanukkah. This list is merely a drop in the ocean of wonderful Hanukkah books available.
While the sun begins to rest and the stars come out of hiding, may our Abba bless you and your family with the gift of timelessness that a good read creates. Nestle into snuggly blankets, pull tightly together, and be blessed with many warm, cherished moments. ￼
A visual delight, Treasures of Chanukah does a beautiful job of “l’dor, v’dor” (The Hebrew sounds like opening the door to the next door and it translates, “from one generation to the next”).
Treasures of Chanukah includes The Story of the Maccabees, and the rich illustrations pull you into the story as if you are there with the Hammer — Judah Maccabee — and his heroic freedom fighters, standing strong against the wicked Antiochus Epiphanes.
The middle section of this book (titled Festival of Lights) brings you into the home of a family who are about to share in lighting the Chanukah lights and to celebrate Chanukah with stories, food, and games.
The last section of Treasures of Chanukah is full of wonderful Songs and Blessings.
Although out of print, Treasures of Chanukah is available for not much more than the cost of shipping at Amazon.com. ￼ ￼
***With or without a copy, follow along in the Books section as Keren shares the first two parts of Treasures of Chanukah.
THE FLYING LATKE
By Arthur Yorinks
Illustrated by William Steig
The Flying Latke is a slap-stick tale of a feuding family and the havoc that results from a food fight on one Hanukkah night. Uncle Izzy throws a latke out the window, and the FBI ends up thinking that the latke is a UFO. Soon the air force is called in to shoot it down.
For eight days and nights, Danny Silverstein and his meshugge (crazy) family are trapped together and oi’vey! the plotzing (excitement)!
The Flying Latke provides a good laugh, and if you are familiar with children’s books, you might recognize a couple of the players: Maurice Sendak (as Uncle Al) and Vladimir Radunsky (as Sol).
The Flying Latke is available both new and used at Amazon.com. ￼ ￼
By Eve Bunting
Illustrated by K. Wendy Popp
One Candle is told through the eyes of a young girl. It is a Hanukkah story about remembering the past and celebrating the present.
Every year on Hanukkah, Grandma hollows out a potato, adds some oil and a wick, and lights it. Then Grandma shares the story of when she and her sister, Rose, were in the Nazi concentration camp, Buchenwald. When it came time for the Festival of Lights, Grandma stole a potato, along with bits of margarine and a couple of matches. Using a thread from Rose’s skirt, they made a wick and set apart this special time with their one Hanukkah candle.
That Hanukkah candle lifted us,” Grandma says, and there are tears in her eyes. “It lifted us to the stars.
‘One Candle’ is a story of hope told with gentle words and beautiful, tender illustrations. It is available for purchase at Amazon.com. ￼ ￼
LATKES AND APPLESAUCE — A HANUKKAH STORY
By Fran Manushkin
Illustrated by Robin Spowart
It happened long ago in a village far away, where there lived a little family named Menashe. Papa and Mama Menashe were tailors who had two children, Rebecca and Ezra. Rebecca and Ezra were wonderful children who helped their mama and papa. Every year when it came time to celebrate Hanukkah, they dug up potatoes to make the latkes, and they picked the apples for applesauce. But one year, winter came suddenly and snow began to fall — not just a lazy flake or two or a little bit of a flurry. No! This was a tremendous blizzard — as if all heaven’s featherbeds had burst!
A family read since Roxanne was small, Latkes and Applesauce is a sweet, gentle story inspired by the rabbinic injunction that on Hanukkah, we must not mourn or fast.
Latkes and Applesauce is available for not much more than the cost of shipping at Amazon.com. ￼
HARVEST OF LIGHT
By Allison Ofanansky
Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern
In Harvest of Light, follow an Israeli family as they grow, harvest, and process olives into oil — some of which is used in their lamps for the festival of Hanukkah.
Illustrated with beautiful photographs and told through the narrative of a young girl, Harvest of Light is about a family living in The Land and working together.
Harvest of Light is available for purchase at Amazon.com. ￼ ￼
CHANUKAH IN CHELM
By David A. Adler
Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
There are two Chelms. The first is a real town in Poland. The second is a make-believe town in Jewish folklore, and is a place where people have big sweet hearts but very little sense.
If you have never met the people in the folklore town of Chelm, Chanukah in Chelm is a wonderful first meeting. If you have met them, Chanukah in Chelm is a delightful revisit.
David Adler tells a tall tale about Mendel, the synagogue caretaker, who needs a table to hold the menorah for the first night of Chanukah.
Full to the brim with good humor and warm candlelit illustrations, Chanukah in Chelm is a sweet, lovable portrait of the fictional inhabitants of Chelm.
Chanukah in Chelm is available for purchase at Amazon.com. ￼ ￼
NINE SPOONS — A CHANUKAH STORY
By Marci Stillerman
Illustrated by Pesach Gerber
As the last night of Chanukah is drawing to a close, Oma gathers her grandchildren close and tells them the story of the strange, twisted menorah that burns bright in her window.
Winner of the Sydney Taylor Award of the Association of Jewish Libraries (1998), Nine Spoons is a precious story of mesirat nefesh (self-sacrifice for the performance of a mitzvah). It is based on a true event: when Oma and fellow women interns obtained spoons to make a menorah for Chanukah.
Nine Spoons is well-researched and is illustrated with great sensitivity toward a very young audience — an audience to whom this may be their first exposure to the horrific events of the Shoah.
Nine Spoons is available for purchase at Amazon.com. ￼
Elijah’s Angel is loosely based on Michael J. Rosen’s friendship with Elijah Pierce, “a renowned woodcarver, lay minister, barber, and personal friend to many of his visitors. Elijah shared his work with his customers, fellow churchgoers, and neighborhood admirers for nearly half a century.”
Elijah’s Angel is told from the perspective of nine-year-old Michael, a young Jewish boy to whom Elijah gives a carved wooden angel. Deeply touched, young Michael is nonetheless concerned: is the carved angel a graven image?
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Elijah’s Angel is a sweet story of friendship and respect. This book is available for not much more than the cost of shipping at Amazon.com. ￼