Friday, November 28, 2014

Hanukkah Books that are Actually for Jewish kids

Hanukkah's coming! And here begins my annual hunt for a Hanukkah book that's written for Jewish children. See, many, many Hanukkah books are actually written for non-Jews, to explain this crazy holiday. Jewish children don't need to be told what a menorah or latke is. They know. They want stories about crazy Hanukkah hijinks and there just aren't that many. (Also, you really don't need *that* many books about the miracle of the oil.) Here are a few of my favorites:

The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Nancy Cote

As the Hanukkah party guest list keeps growing, Rachel's mom keeps sending her next door to borrow more latke ingredients, chairs, and other necessary items. Rachel keeps inviting Mrs. Greenberg to come to the party, but she just won't come! How can Rachel help spread the Hanukkah joy?

The Chanukkah Guest by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Giora Carmi

I love this hilarious tale about a Bubba who thinks she's inviting the rabbi in to eat her latkes, only to discover she's fed them all to a hungry bear! (Sadly out-of-print)

The Ugly Menorah written and illustrated by Marissa Moss

Rachel doesn't understand why her grandmother insists on using her ugly, old menorah. But then grandma tells her how, when she and Rachels recently-passed grandpa were first married, they didn't have money to buy a menorah and so grandpa made the old, ugly, one. (Also sadly out-of-print)

Biscuit's Hanukkah by Alissa Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories

Mostly because I get excited to find a series character who's obligatory holiday book is about Hanukkah, not Christmas.

Which ones would you add?

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Abby said...

Committee member Yapha recommends Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and Arthur Yorink's Flying Latke!

Jennie said...

ooo thanks!

Angie Manfredi said...

Love this post, Jen. And though you didn't explicitly mention it, it's more back-up on why holiday programming is problematic. (maybe Jewish kids don't want/need a "basic" Hannukkah storytime where you say, "What's a latke?!" and maybe you, as a non-Jewish librarian, shouldn't be presenting it just because you "think" you should.)

I like some of the titles from Kar-Ben. they're great for Jewish titles in general. Oh! And HANNUKAH BEAR is back in print with an awesome new set of illustrations:

Jennie said...


AW YEAH, HANUKKAH BEAR! That makes me happy.

I love Kar-Ben in general, but don't have a lot of first-hand knowledge of their Hanukkah books.

I've stayed out of the holiday programming debate because my feelings are way too muddled (and guilty because I'm in the middle of a Christmas movie series) but one comment I'll say is that so often it's not that the Hanukkah portion is basic, but that it's religious. It's a religious holiday, so explaining it is religious. Unless the Christmas story you're reading is about Jesus, the Hanukkah story needs to not be about the Miracle of the Oil, you know?