The Read Balloon: Hanukkah picture books that don’t make you want to claw your eyes out

I’ve written about this before, but I happen to think it’s pretty cool that Harper is growing up with the festive winter holiday confusion that is celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas.  The only downside I can see at this early stage in the game is poor Hanukkah’s inevitable paling in comparison to its more popular, sparklier, egg-noggier holiday cousin.  I mean, just as one small example, Christmas has amazing fun music and Hanukkah has, you know, the song about the dreidel.  It needs some PR help!  And it needs some picture book help.  I mean, there are some pretty lame ones out there.  But I have come across a few that Harper really loves, so here are some Hanukkah picture book winner shout outs.

Hanukkah Lights, by David Martin, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I really love Melissa Sweet’s illustrations.  They’re so colorful, whimsical, and warm.  We are big fans of her Sleepy Little Alphabet too, and her website is super cute, with games and printable pictures to color — what an adorable way to waste time at work, should you do such a thing.  Anyway, this board book would be nice for a younger child too, with its simple text and bright colors and patterns.  A handful of gelt to you, Hanukkah Lights!

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah, by Susan L. Roth

Jewish Grandma and Grandpa just sent this one, and we’ve already read it 8 billion times.  A Hanukkah miracle!  It takes its text from the familiar song which for some reason Harper LOVES and wants me to sing again and again.  In fact she’ll come up to me when we haven’t been singing at all and just say “again” and that means the song, which is good I guess since it’s one of only two or three Hanukkah songs I can even think of.  This book also has adorable, textured collage illustrations that make it feel somehow very cozy.  PLUS it provides early introduction to the important realm of literature that is portraying Jews as mice.  (Adam commented on this and I was like, come on, and then we opened Harper’s next Hanukkah gift — ANOTHER PICTURE BOOK ABOUT LITTLE MOUSE-JEWS! Anyway.)

what do you do on a jewish holiday

What Do You Do on a Jewish Holiday? It's all about the flaps.

The illustrations of this next book are of the awesome slightly trippy pink-sky 70s style that many synagogues are decorated in and I really love them, even as they make feel like I might be on drugs/at a bad bar mitzvah party.  What Do You Do on a Jewish Holiday? by the appealingly named Sol Scharfstein, illustrated by Arthur Friedman.  As the name implies, it’s about all the Jewish holidays and not just Hanukkah, but I thought I would mention it because the aforementioned awesomely retro illustrations, the inclusion of flaps, and because Harper mysteriously loves it all year round.  Another Hanukkah miracle!

Happy Hanukkah, little mice.  Enjoy some latkes and chalky gelt, and try not to burn your houses down with wobbly menorahs.

4 responses to “The Read Balloon: Hanukkah picture books that don’t make you want to claw your eyes out

  1. I bet Art Speigelman feels like a total rip-off when he reads the mousy Hanukkah books. Or, maybe he feels ripped-off, depending on the publication dates…

  2. BTW, that link you included is one of the most impressively horrible versions of the Hanukkah song I have ever heard. 2 seconds of.

  3. Pingback: The Epic Midwest Family Visit Tour | household words

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