In our house, we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. I love our blended traditions, but with two little kids, we can get overwhelmed with gifts and just… stuff. I’m always on the lookout for new holiday traditions, and one I adapted from a wise friend of mine is to gift a book (instead of a toy) for each night of Hanukkah.
Truth time. This is the second year I’ve tackled this tradition, and last year I had a healthy mix of Hanukkah and non-Hanukkah books to give. And while I’d like to admit that I only give Hanukkah books (sorry, Mom), my actual list is a hybrid. And here’s the thing. For all of the wonderful Christmas books out there, and the new characters that are celebrating Christmas (Llama Llama, Construction Site, Little Blue Truck—I’m talking to you!), there just aren’t the same amount of books for Hanukkah. Yet. Sadly, it was a struggle to come up with eight books I liked for this post. And I hope that this will change in coming years.
So here’s my list of eight Hanukkah books to gift to your little readers:
Latke, the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fischer, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
This adorable story about a family that rescues a dog on the first night of Hanukkah and names him Latke is going to be a huge hit with my animal-loving kids. Poor Latke has no idea how to behave so he ends up opening presents, chewing on candles, and—yep—eating latkes. By night 8, both Latke and his new family have figured out how to properly behave.
The Night Before Hanukkah by Natasha Wing
This take on “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” is clever, even if the idea of a night before an eight-day festival doesn’t really hold up. But my kids won’t care, and the actual description of the story of Hanukkah is really well done in this book.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
I adore this series of How Do Dinosaurs books, which tackles everything from going to sleep to birthdays. The narrator questions how the dinosaurs would behave, which is first in horrible ways like “does he grab up all gelt?” Of COURSE dinosaurs don’t do that! They are gracious and polite, just like your children! Right? Right. This is one of the highlights of this year’s stack and will probably be handed out on night 1.
D Is for Dreidel by Greg Paprocki
The jacket image online doesn’t do this book justice, unfortunately. It’s truly a beautifully designed book that will be an eye-catching read for the younger child in your life. With pages like “L is for Latkes” or “I is for Israel,” this is a perfect Hanukkah and Jewish primer.
Good Night Hanukkah by Adam Gamble
I could (and may) write an entire post about how much I love the line of Good Night Our World books. This book was a no-brainer addition to our stack this year. I can’t wait to read this to my kids—they are going to love the beautiful drawings of families celebrating Hanukkah and learning a little more about all the different traditions.
Happy Hanukkah, Curious George by H. A. Rey
As an adult, it’s been fun to dive back into the world of Curious George. He truly lives a very culturally rich life, so of course George and the Man with the Yellow Hat join a Hanukkah party. My mother would be very proud that the focus of the party is games, latkes, and charity, not on gift giving. Also, my older son loves applesauce, so he thinks anything involving Curious George and applesauce—you can only imagine what happens here—is “really silly.”
Elmo's Little Dreidel by Naomi Kleinberg
Elmo gets invited to his friends Gil and Susie’s family Hanukkah party, where he learns to play dreidel. At the end of the night, Elmo leaves with a perfect gift, his own dreidel. As an adult, I was happy to brush up on my dreidel game skills and be able to play along with my kids. And as a parent, thank you again to Sesame Street for being so inclusive to all children.
Goodnight Bubbala: A Joyful Parody by Sheryl Haft
My husband and I memorized Goodnight Moon so we could “read” it in the dark while putting our kids to sleep, so I think they’ll get a kick out of this parody, even if they don’t get it. This is really more of a book for parents—and grandparents—as it incorporates Yiddish sayings and gently pokes fun at stereotypes in a goodnight book. This book made me giggle, and I plan to ask my father (aka, Zayde Bob) to read it to my kids over the holidays.