Chanukah, Hanukah, Hanukkah. However you chose to spell it, that shiny, shimmery Festival of Lights is almost here (December 2nd this year! So early!). It’s definitely a quieter winter holiday than Christmas, but it’s still eight lovely nights filled with singing, families, and the smell of sizzling, frying potatoes. Many of these 11 books, some of the best Chanukah picture books out there right now, would make a great read-along for anyone. Reading these together would be a valuable (and fun) lesson about how different cultures celebrate different holidays. Some of these books are about blended families celebrating together (those two are my personal favourites from this list).
Finally, here and here are other list with some alternate options, including last year’s delightful Dear Santa, Love Rachel Rosenstein (relatable for any Jewish kid who grew up yearning for the razzmatazz of Christmas’s cultural monopoly).
Hanukkah bear by Eric A. Kimmel and Mike Wohnoutka
Old bear, having just woken up, follows the smell of delicious food to Bubba Brayna’s place. For most of us, that would be horrifying, but Babba B is ninety-seven years old and blind as anything. The bear comes in for a visit and his furry face leads her to believe that he’s the rabbi that she’s expecting to visit. This silly story is hilarious and and the charming art will make kids laugh even harder.
The Hanukkah Hop! By Erica Silverman and Steven D’Amico
A rhythmic picture book about the song and dance of Chanukah. The pictures are bright and full of cozy, snow-draped illustrations, and there’s a lot of holiday-specific references mixed in with the biddy-biddy bim-bom, bim-bom bop-ing. A high-energy way to learn about the traditions and stories of the holiday.
Chanukah Lights Everywhere by Michael Rosen and Melissa Iwai
A sweet, simple story about a family getting ready for eight nights of Chanukah together. It’s a good one to answer the often-asked “So, what do you do for eight days?”
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg and Anjan Sarkar
A delightful, energetic cross-cultural story about a half-Jewish and half-Indian family. Each year on Chanukah, the family in this book makes dosas instead of latkes – a way for them to honour their mother’s heritage.
The Eight Nights of Chanukah by Lesléa Newman and Elivia Savadier
This is one of those picture books that can be read aloud or, just as easily, sung aloud (to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas). A young child goes to visit Grandma and, each for each of the eight nights, another traditional item is added.
The Missing Letters: A Dreidel Story by Renee Londner
A silly story about jealousy. The dreidel’s four Hebrew letters are living in a dreidel-maker’s shop and awaiting their fates. Will they be able to pull together as a team in time to bring fun to the holiday? I certainly hope so.
The Itsy Bitsy Dreidel by Jeffrey Burton
A board-book twist on the Itsy Bitsy Spider, this one is super adorable. Enjoy the rhymes and simple story before breaking into a rousing game of dreidel.
Latke, the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fischer and Tiphanie Beeke
A sweet story about a mischievous shelter dog that gets rescued on the first night of Chanukah. It’s simple, but a pretty fun read for dog fans!
Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
Sadie’s December is a mix of two traditions, and one of the nice things about this book is that the family really works together to celebrate both holidays. So Daddy Christmas makes the latkes and kugel, and candy canes hang off the menorah. A bright, celebratory book to encourage family discussions about blended families. So good.
How do dinosaurs say Happy Chanukah? By Jane Yolen
Yolen’s How do Dinosaurs series is always hilarious, and this is certainly no exception. Her rhyming scheme is always so clever! Featuring such delights as a Rugops fussing next to two people lightening the menorah candles, and an Ichtyostega signing gift cards to give as presents.
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah By Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky
This picture book, featuring Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family, takes place in New York City’s Lower East Side back in ol’ 1912. The original series was first published in the early 1950s, but this new addition follows the five girls as they prepare for Hanukkah together despite some tantrum-based complications.
These are my personal favourite Chanukah books, do you have any suggestions that I missed? Let me know in the comments!