So what new (and newish) Hanukkah books are out that might need to find a place in your home library? I previewed these three and recommend them all.
Written by Jodie Shepherd, illustrated by Joe Mathieu, this paperback was published in September 2017. (It’s also available as a Kindle, but then you wouldn’t get all the goodies inside.) According to Amazon, it’s for ages 3-7.
I was prepared to be skeptical. But they had me from the beginning. Before I even looked at the story, I discovered two pages of stickers (I love stickers!), Hanukkah gift cards, punch-out candles, and even a happy poster to use in a game! The content level is perfect for pre-readers for whom the charming illustrations bring the story to life. It’s also excellent for early readers.
And it does not focus on presents (which I much prefer to stories that are all about getting loot). We learn what the shamash is, why we light candles, how we spin the dreidels, why we give tzedakah, and much more. And if you watched Sesame Street with your kiddoes, you can read in the voices of Oscar, the Count, Grover, and cookie Monster.
This classic story from Isaac Bashevis Singer, illustrated by Suzanne Raphael Berkson, was published in September 2015. I got the hardcover book, but it’s also available as a paperback and on Kindle. For children from five to eight, this story starts in Brooklyn during a heavy snow. The language is simple, but charming:
“Toward evening the sky cleared and a few stars appeared. A frost set in. It was the eighth day of Hanukkah, and my silver Hanukkah lamp stood on the windowsill with all candles burning.”
I won’t spoil the evolution of events, but, in brief, a yellow-green parakeet shows up outside the window, where it is too cold for him. So the family lets him into their home and into their lives. There’s even a Yiddish element, always good to introduce to this generation. The parakeet, you see, can say “Zeldele, geh schlofen” (little Zelda, go to sleep). Like the Grover story, this is good for both pre-readers and early readers, with lovely illustrations. The last page looks like it came right out of a Chagall mural.
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love
Written by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, this story was published in October 2016 for children four to eight. Although available on Kindle, I got the hardcover book.
This one felt personal. Although I have many friends who are expert knitters, I am a simple beginner – the kind who gasps when a stitch falls off, because I’m not sure I can rescue the project. Still, I’ve knitted blankets for five babies: my grandsons, an adorable cousin, a sweet great-nephew, and a great-niece I can’t wait to hold. So I understand the part about knitting and love.
Like me, Sophia isn’t very good at knitting, but she knows how to make pom-poms for Mrs. Goldman’s hats. Mrs. Goldman, you see, is a very proficient knitter who selflessly creates hats to keep keppies (heads in Yiddish) of babies, friends and neighbors warm. When Sophia realizes that Mrs. Goldman doesn’t have a hat to keep her own keppie warm, she figures out how to use what she knows to change that situation. For knitters and non-knitters, this is a story of creativity and inspiration and drive and love.
Hanukkah Shopping – Hanukkah Games Box
How to get ready for Hanukkah? Get a Hanukkah Games Box and unpack a whole bunch of Hanukkah fun.
Bring all the generations together for the Hanukkah Bingo Game. Pull out the crayons for the cut-and-color activities, including a 6-foot long color-your-own Happy Hanukkah banner which is the perfect project for everyone in your home.
Clear a surface for a dreidel competition. There are 8 dreidels in each box, along with a How to Play Dreidel explanation with visuals.
Learn how to make edible dreidels. And more!