For the younger set (and for introducing the basics of the holiday to older children), we like Harriet Ziefert's lift-the-flap story called "What is Hanukkah?" This book answers questions like why we light candles, play dreidel, eat latkes, and exchange gifts as well as presenting the history of the holiday in an easy-to-understand way. It follows a boy named Josh, and his family, as they ready for the holiday and every page features a flap with additional text or illustrations.
Fran Manushkin's book, "Latkes and Applesauce", starts off like a fairytale — "It happened long ago in a village far away..." and follows the Menashe family as their village is hit with a terrible blizzard and they realize there will be no apples for applesauce or potatoes for latkes. A stray dog and cat help them realize the miracle of the holiday and find a way to bring apples and potatoes to the family's home just in time. At the end of the book there is a historical account of Hanukkah as well as a latke recipe and directions for playing the dreidel game.
Last on my list today (but definitely not least) are two books by Linda Glaser — "The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes" and "Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah". The first book starts on the last night of Hanukkah when Rachel's mother discovers she doesn't have enough potatoes to make latkes for all of their guests. Rachel is sent next door to Mrs. Greenberg's house to borrow some potatoes and what ensues is a sweet story of friendship and caring. Mrs. Greenberg and Rachel appear again in "Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah". This time the pair attempts to make latkes in Mrs. Greenberg's sparkling clean kitchen. It turns out to be a really messy job and exhausts poor Mrs. Greenberg. Mrs. Greenberg, who lives on her own, soon learns that it is a wonderful mess, not a terrible one.
We're always looking for new books to read so please let me know what your favorite Hanukkah story is. Share your ideas and you'll be entered into the grand prize drawing.
Happy Hanukkah to you all!