The story of Hanukkah isn’t the most kid-friendly tale — religious oppression and war being not the cuddliest of themes — which is why talented children’s authors who help teach our kids about the holiday, are much appreciated. If you’re looking for some context and entertaining ways to celebrate the fact that Hanukkah is more than just “Jewish Christmas,” a good children’s book can help tremendously.
While Hanukkah doesn’t have the backing of a massive commercial industry or a jolly old elf, the holiday has plenty going for it: Hello, eight days of presents, of course! There’s also the magical feeling of lighting the menorah every night all that delicious food like latkes and chocolate gelt, some of it won by playing the dreidel game.
Whether you’re from a family that’s secular, mixed-culture, or religious, educating your children about Hanukkah through the magic of reading can help connect their imaginations with the holiday.
Ahead of the holiday, which this year starts on November 28 and ends on December 6, we’ve selected some books that do it all from helping retell the story of Judah Maccabee to depicting the celebratory side of Hanukkah and with very familiar faces — some publishers have borrowed already-beloved children’s book characters like Sesame Street‘s Elmo and the Very Hungry Caterpillar to join in the party. While some books weave brand-new tales featuring Jewish people experiencing their own miracles or otherwise making magic. And when you sit down to read one of these Hanukkah books with your children, you’re creating one more holiday tradition to continue together.
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Here are our picks for the best Hanukkah books for children.