You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a Mother who read to me.
~ Strickland Gilliland
Reading aloud – together as a family – has been something my husband, daughter, and I have always enjoyed. And this practice of reading together has become a tradition intricately woven into our celebrations.
C.S. Lewis said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally, and often far more, worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” I would push that number even further to the left as we have found that we never outgrow our favorites. Favorite books become family treasures and when we pull them out to enjoy, again and again, it is like welcoming back an old friend who brings into our midst warm and loving memories – memories which are heirlooms we pass down to our children.
The following are just eight of so many wonderful Hanukkah reads available. In past years I have done other reviews and I invite you to visit those posts.
In His love,
1. CHANUKAH LIGHTS
verse by Michael J. Rosen
illustrations by Robert Sabuda
I love pop-up books and this book does not disappoint. Pop-up master, Robert Sabuda, and acclaimed poet, Michael J. Rosen, have created a work of art! With eight pages, one for each night, you can follow the Festival of Lights through history. From Herod’s temple, through the heat of the desert, to a shtetl in Russia; from a refugee ship bound for the New World to an Israeli kibbutz, and on to skyscrapers… this book is a treasure! Definitely a book to be explored again and again.
Available from Amazon.com Chanukah Lights
2. HANUKKAH HA-HAS
Knock-Knock Jokes That Are A Latke Fun
by Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg
illustrated by Stephen Carpenter
Filled with jokes, flaps to peek under, and two Honey-kah Mack-a-bees – oh how I would have loved to have found this book when my daughter was little! Sweet, innocent humor – I can just imagine the precious laughter as these jokes tickle the funny bone of young and old alike.
Available from Amazon.com Hanukkah Ha-Has: Knock-Knock Jokes that Are a Latke Fun (Lift-The-Flap Knock-Knock Book)
3. K’TONTON IN THE CIRCUS – A HANUKKAH ADVENTURE
by Sadie Rose Weilerstein
illustrated by Marilyn Hirsh
This is K’tonton, a tiny Jewish boy not bigger than a thumb. Like other thumblings, he was born in answer to his mother’s prayer. “Oh, that I might have a child,” she prayed. “I should not mind if he were no bigger than a thumb.”
When K’tonton was eight days old, his parents named him Isaac Samuel…”Isaac, which means ‘laughter,’ and Samuel, which means ‘God heard.’ But everyday they called him K’tonton – from the Hebrew katan, “small,” k’tonton, “very small.”
K’tonton’s mother added honey from the Land of Israel to the baby’s milk. She sang him Hebrew lullabies. His father taught him Torah…
K’tonton is the Jewish Tom Thumb, raised on milk and honey (honey from Israel). On the first day of Kislev, K’tonton is at synagogue with his father. His father, needing to talk to the rabbi, places K’tonton on the window sill to wait for him. K’tonton, thinking of Mashiach and singing “Elijah the Prophet come soon, soon”, is swept up by a tall bearded man on a white horse. Tucked into the mans sash, K’tonton thinks he is in the company of Elijah.
Arriving at a small tent – K’tonton rejoices, “‘Jerusalem! Elijah has brought me to Jerusalem!’ But of course it wasn’t Jerusalem. It was a circus, a small, one -ring, tent circus that traveled from town to town.”
A wonderful misadventure filled with old fashioned black and white illustrations.
Available used from Amazon.com K’Tonton in the Circus: A Hanukkah Adventure
4. THE HANUKKAH MICE
by Ronne Randall
illustrated by Maggie Kneen
From inside the walls of a cozy house,
young Milly, Molly, and Marty Mouse
heard the tale of the wondrous Hanukkah lights,
and the miracle that kept them aglow for eight nights.
A sweet little Hanukkah read about a family of mice who on each night of Hanukkah find a sparkling, foiled, special treasure hidden behind a foldout on each page.
Both the verse and illustrations are gentle and precious.
Available from Amazon.com The Hanukkah Mice
5. OSKAR AND THE EIGHT BLESSINGS
by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon
illustrated by Mark Siegel
Oskar’s mother and father believed in the power of blessing.
So did Oskar…
…until the Night of Broken Glass.
His parents put him on a ship to America. He has nothing
but an address and a photo of a woman he didn’t know –
“It’s your Aunt Esther.” –
and his father’s last words to him:
“Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.”
Arriving by ship as a refugee on the seventh day of Hanukkah, 1938, Oskar walks over a hundred blocks on Broadway, New York City, to reach his aunt’s home. Along the way Oskar meets kindness after kindness.
Detailed, heartwarming illustrations combined with a simple and poignant story that had me wiping my eyes just to see the pages. This book delivers a beautiful message – one that is so very needed in our world today.
Available from Amazon.com Oskar and the Eight Blessings
6. BEAUTIFUL YETTA’S HANUKKAH KITTEN
by Daniel Pinkwater
illustrated by Jill Pinkwater
Beautiful Yiddish-speaking Yetta escaped from a poultry market and now lives with a flock of Spanish-speaking wild parrots of Brooklyn – to whom she is their Yiddish mama. One cold, snowy Hanukkah night Yetta hears a noise. It’s a cold, hungry, tiny kitten. Yetta and the parrots want to take care of the kitten, but they don’t know how.
A very sweet, multilingual story (English, Yiddish, and Spanish – A transliteration of Yiddish and Spanish is included) with lively, brightly colored illustrations.
Available from Amazon.com Beautiful Yetta’s Hanukkah Kitten
7. LATKE, THE LUCKY DOG
by Ellen Fischer
illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
Latke, an adorable newly adopted puppy, is rescued from the animal shelter on the first night of Hanukkah. Happy to join his new family in celebrating Hanukkah, Latke has a bit of trouble learning the house rules.
Latke, The Lucky Dog, with it’s soft colors and expressive illustrations is a sweet Hanukkah read with a message of gratitude and forgiveness.
Available from Amazon.com Latke, the Lucky Dog (Hanukkah)
8. HANUKKAH BEAR
by Eric A. Kimmel
illustrations by Mike Wohnoutka
Old Bubba Brayna can’t hear or see very well, but o’vey she makes delicious latkes! On the first night of Hanukkah, Bubba Brayna invites her rabbi for dinner, but an old hungry bear – who smells the wonderful aroma of her latkes – is drawn to her door first and Bubba Brayna invites him in, mistaking the bear for her rabbi.
This is a cute re-telling of The Chanukkah Guest with warm and rich illustrations. Truly a Hanukkah delight!
Available from Amazon.com Hanukkah Bear
* photo credit – Juniper Books