By Eliana H.
Most people in the United States have heard of Chanukah. Though there are about six different accepted spellings for the holiday, “Chanukah” has always been my preference and that’s what I’m going with here. You may know it is the festival of lights. Many even know the tale of the oil that was only enough for one day miraculously lasting for eight days. Growing up, I always learned that while the oil was a fun story, the true triumph of Chanukah was that a small band of resistance fighters defeated a larger, more well-equipped military force. My family celebrates by playing dreidel, cooking and eating latkes, and, of course, lighting the candles. Although we exchange gifts, I’ve never felt like that is the most important part.
While Chanukah is not among the most sacred Jewish holidays, it is a time of joyous celebration, and we certainly want to take advantage of every opportunity for that during this challenging year. If you’re looking to introduce your child to some Chanukah-themed stories, take a look at these titles from the HCLS collection. Clicking on any of the titles below will open a tab with that title listing in our catalog.
Chanukah with Your Favorite Characters: Many familiar children’s book characters have a book in which they celebrate Chanukah. Here are a few of those titles.
You might know Dear Dragon from the expansive series by Margaret Hillert. In this volume, a boy and his pet dragon learn about Chanukah from a Jewish friend.
Fables and Folk Tales Related to Chanukah: While not telling the historical tale that is celebrated on Chanukah, these stories show characters overcoming obstacles to celebrate Chanukah.
Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat provides a twist on the traditional magic pot story. A young girl is rewarded for a good deed with a magic pan that cooks up latkes (potato pancakes) on command, but when her younger brothers can’t remember the words to make it stop, they end up with more than they expected.
Celebrating Together: These stories focus on families of all kinds celebrating Chanukah together.
This volume shows readers a way that families of different backgrounds can combine their traditions into meaningful celebrations for everyone. While dealing with what may be a familiar sibling interaction to many, the main characters honor both their father’s Jewish and their mother’s East Indian heritage.
Chanukah in History: Each of these books shows how Chanukah was celebrated by someone at a particular point in the past.
I remember reading books about the All-of-a-Kind Family growing up, so I was excited to see this picture book arrive on our shelves. A Jewish immigrant family living in the tenements of New York City in 1912 celebrates Chanukah together, with interactions that feel familiar even today.
Chanukah Nonfiction: Check out these books for more facts about Chanukah, its history, and how it’s celebrated.
Even though this title is in our picture book collection, it walks readers through the step of preparing olive oil to light in an old-fashioned Chanukah menorah, from beginning to end. Follow a young Israeli girl as she watches the olives grow and helps her family harvest them before finally lighting some of the oil on the first night of Chanukah.
Howard County hosts a community Chanukah candlelighting every year. This year, due to safety concerns, the event will be virtual. It will take place on December 14 at 7 pm. If you’d like to join from the comfort of your own home, register at https://www.jewishhowardcounty.org/calendar/chanukah-menorah-lighting. Happy Chanukah!
Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).