6 Cute Kids’ Books for Chanukah

  • December 7, 2023

Make the Festival of Lights (which starts tonight) more literary!

6 Cute Kids’ Books for Chanukah

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl; illustrated by Shahar Kober (Sterling Children’s Books). It’s the first night in their new apartment, and Max and Rachel can’t wait to celebrate the Festival of Lights with their parents. But where’s the box filled with their menorah, dreidels, and candles? Oh, no! It hasn’t come yet! Luckily, for eight nights, the family’s new neighbors pitch in and create a makeshift, not-quite-traditional celebration filled with love and good cheer. Who says French fries can’t stand in for latkes?

Ella’s Night Lights by Lucy Fleming (Candlewick). A wee sprite named Ella lovingly flies through the night sky gathering bits of light — starlight, moonlight, lamplight — to soothe creatures afraid of the dark. “Here’s some bright light. Here’s a night light, a little ray to calm your fright.” But her own delicate, easily burned wings mean Ella can’t have her one wish: to see the sun. At least not until the grateful woodland critters find a clever way to repay Ella’s kindness by making her dream come true!

This Little Dreidel by Aly Fronis (author) and Carol Herring (illustrator) (Little Bee Books). “This little dreidel went to market. This little dreidel took a spin. This little dreidel started a game. This little dreidel put one in.” The familiar and beloved “This Little Piggy” nursery rhyme gets a Festival of Lights makeover in this simple board book tailor-made for the youngest readers — who’ll surely want to hear it on all eight nights of Chanukah!

The Snow Dancer by Addie Boswell; illustrated by Mercè López (Two Lions). “Sofia was asleep when the snowflakes came. All through the night they fell — frosting the rooftops, fluffing the sidewalks, laying fuzzy hats on the fire hydrants.” The city is transformed into a magical, wintry wonderland! But what will young Sofia do when the other kids’ cacophony — stomping, shouting, shrieking — threatens to drown out her perfectly placid dance amid the drifts? Join in the fun, of course!

Home for the Holidays: A Little Book about the Different Holidays that Bring Us Together by Craig Manning (author) and Ernie Kwiat (illustrator) (Sourcebooks Wonderland). “We all have traditions we celebrate each year / with family and friends that fill you with cheer.” Join Big Bird, Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, and other Sesame Street favorites for a look at some of the many observances — from Kwanzaa and Eid al-Fitr to Diwali and Chinese New Year — that make life more joyful and fun.

Mendel’s Hanukkah Mess Up by Chana and Larry Stiefel (authors) and Daphna Awadish (illustrator) (Kalaniot Books). It’s almost Hanukkah, Mendel’s favorite holiday! But his track record celebrating the Festival of Lights isn’t great. Sparklers instead of candles in the menorah? “Oy, Mendel!” Too many onions in the latkes? “Oy, Mendel!” Still, when Rabbi Klein asks Mendel to drive the Mitzvah Mobile around New York City to spread the word about this year’s festivities, the young man is determined to do it right. But when he wrecks the van instead? Somehow, hapless Mendel manages to share the miracle of Hanukkah anyway…

[Editor’s note: This piece from 2022 was only meant for one year but may last eight.]

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