I have to admit, I have been reading Hanukkah books to my 16-month-old daughter, Maya, for the last 3 months. NOT that it’s a competition, but I figure if they can start putting up Christmas decorations at stores November 1st (already!), I can start reading about latkes before my daughter even knows what a Thanksgiving turkey is.
The Hanukkah books have become some of her favorites that she asks us to read before bedtime (yes, the holy “bedtime book” status). Because of these books, when she saw the clothes rack at the dry cleaner’s circling with newly pressed shirts, she exclaimed, “Spin! (like a) Dreidel!”
by David Martin (Candlewick – 9/2009 board book)
This book has absolutely adorable drawings of little (racially-diverse) children celebrating Hanukkah as the nights of the holiday progress. While the text is not terribly interesting to me (it isn’t poetic like “Good night, moon”), it is perfect for a small child- – the text is concise, engaging and matches the illustrations well.
This book has taught Maya the meaning of the words menorah, candle, dreidel, spin, and “thank you” which accompanies the gift-giving page. Now, as a result of this book, whenever I give Maya something she wants (aka. my cell phone to play with) she excitedly announces, “thank you! Elp-om! (welcome)” covering all of her politeness bases. What more could you want from a Hanukkah book?
by Jacqueline Jules (Kar-Ben Publishing – 9/2010 board book)
This book has lovely sing-song rhyming text with just one sentence per page (perfect for a toddler). While I first looked at the very flat 2-D illustrations skeptically, my daughter loves their simplicity, so the illustrator must have known something about the artistic preferences of little ones. While teaching Maya about Hanukkah, this book has also taught her about an egalitarian sharing of household chores as it is the father in the book cooking latkes. While Maya was, at first, confused by the father cooking, she soon loved this detail and would request the “Pappa! Cook!” book.
Whether you, or your partner, will be the one making latkes this year, I hope you will both have the opportunity to curl up in a couch or rocking chair with a little person and read one of these great Hanukkah books with them over, and over, and over again.
Disclosure of Material Connection, required by the FTC: TC Jewfolk received a complimentary review copy of these books.