We use December as a way to learn about and honor all of the winter holidays celebrated around the world. We have good friends who are Jewish and we are blessed to have spent many nights of Hanukkah with them over the years. The latkes they make are fantastic (both sweet and white potato) and watching them light the candles while saying the blessing is so beautiful.
A former student gave me a menorah for my classroom and it is the menorah I still have today. My children and I read a Hanukkah story during each of the eight nights, discuss the symbolism of the candles play dreidel and pray for our family and friends on earth and in heaven.
This year Hanukkah begins on December 22nd and the last night is Monday, December 30th. Coffee and Carpool has some great kindness activities for Hanukkah on her blog. Here are some of our favorite Hanukkah books to read during the eight nights.
This is our FAVORITE Hanukkah story but it can be a bit frightening for young children. This is a story about a traveler who comes upon a small village where they are not celebrating Hanukkah because goblins have taken over the synagogue. The traveler sets out to defeat the goblins using his wit. A wonderful story about staying strong, being brave and standing up for what you believe in. I think this book is wonderful for children ages 6 and up. Maybe younger if your child is okay with the ideas of monsters.
Every year I find a new holiday book that touches my heart and for 2019, it was Gracie’s Night. This is so much more than a book about Hanukkah. This is a book about kindness, love, giving and thinking of others. I LOVED this book and feel EVERY child (person for that matter) should hear it. I recommend it for ages 4 and up. From the Publisher: “THERE’S LOTS OF LOVE in Gracie’s and Papa’s lives, but not much money. Gracie finds a resourceful way to buy Papa some well-deserved Hanukkah gifts, but an encounter on a bitterly cold night opens her eyes and alters her plans. When we are brave enough to reach out instead of looking away, each of us can bring someone a miracle.”
My kids love this Hanukkah story and it is one we own and read year after year. From the Publisher: “Sadie and her four little brothers are very poor and always hungry. On the first night of Chanukah, Sadie performs a generous act, and in turn receives a frying pan that cooks up sizzling hot, golden latkes on command. Sadie tells her brothers never to use the magic pan, but when she goes out one afternoon, the mischievous boys can’t resist. They remember the words to start the pan cooking . . . but what were the words to make it stop?”
From the publisher: “A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city’s many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world. This is a heartwarming, timeless picture book.”
This is a great book to teach the story of Hanukkah and why it is celebrated. Children as young as 4 can hear this story and learn about the miracle long ago that is celebrated during Hanukkah. From the Publisher: “Hanukkah is a wonderful time filled with games, food, family, and fun. It’s also the celebration of an ancient miracle, and retelling and remembering the story of that miracle is an essential part of the holiday, for young and old. The story of the courageous Maccabees is retold in simple yet dramatic text, accompanied by vibrant paintings of the battle, the Temple of Jerusalem, and the oil which miraculously burned for eight long nights.”