Jewish Holiday Books
for Older Readers

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Hanukkah Trivia: Over 150 Fascinating Facts About Hanukkah

By Jennie Miller Helderman & Mary Caulkins
Filled with fascinating facts about the midwinter Jewish holiday, this charming little book is a must for everyone's shopping list. What is the right way to spell Hanukkah? What is the origin of eating cheese at Hanukkah? Where did the most distant celebration of the holiday take place? When was the first Hanukkah postage stamp issued in the United States? You'll have hours of fun discovering the answers to these and 146 other captivating questions that will light up your menorah.

Description from Publisher

The Magic Menorah :
A Modern Chanukah Tale

By Jane Breskin Zalben
Stanley Green, 12, doesn't look forward to Chanukah. Every year his house is overrun with annoying relatives, and his grandfather, who normally tells the best stories, gets quiet and sad. This year turns out to be different, though. Stanley is sent to the attic to get a package for his grandfather. In it, he finds a tarnished old menorah. As the boy cleans it up, a shabby little old man appears, demands a nosh, and offers three wishes if Stanley can answer three riddles. Stanley doesn't get the right answers, but Fishel lets him wish anyway. Of course, each wish turns out far differently than Stanley anticipates. He learns that Fame and Fortune come in many forms, and realizes that Happiness has been his all along. He also learns something about his family history and why his grandfather is so sad at Chanukah. This short, simple chapter book is filled with details about traditions of the holiday. Hebrew and Yiddish words are sprinkled liberally throughout, with a glossary at the end. The realistic illustrations, vignettes with text wrapped around them, nicely support the story. An entertaining read-aloud that could easily be adapted as a play or reader's theater script

Description from School Library Journal

How I Saved Hanukkah

By Amy Goldman Koss
Marla Feinstein, the only Jewish kid in her fourth-grade class, feels like an outsider--especially as everyone gears up for Christmas, including her best friend, Lucy. To make matters worse, her father is out of town, and her mother doesn't take Hanukkah seriously. The best she can hope for is a few candles, a couple of unwrapped gifts, and a dreidel that doesn't spin. Once Marla decides to find out what Hanukkah is really about, however, things turn around. Starting with a genuine dreidel game, her family begins to catch the spirit. Her mom even makes her first latkes (potato pancakes), which leads to a big Hanukkah party for all of their friends--Jewish and non-Jewish alike. A gem of a story, in which a child's persistent curiosity is the means for introducing readers to the background and traditions that make up a delightful holiday.

Description from Booklist A Hanukkah to remember -- finally!

Marla Feinstein, the only Jewish kid in her fourth-grade class, knows what this holiday season will be like. While everyone else is decorating trees and hanging stockings, she'll be forgetting to light the candles and staring at a big plastic dreidel. But when Marla decides to learn what the Hanukkah traditions are really about, things change fast. Soon she's got her family turning latkes into Hanukkah Performance Art and doing a wild hora. And by the end of this funny and heartwarming novel, the Festival of Lights is the biggest party in town!

Description from Publisher Hanukkah is fast approaching, but to fourth-grader Marla Feinstein, it doesn't seem like a very big deal. While all of her neighbors are festooning their houses with Christmas lights and decorations, Marla has to make do with a plain menorah, a plastic dreidel that won't spin, a mom who doesn't even wrap her Hanukkah presents, and a dad who is out of town on a business trip. With her friend Lucy, Maria embarks on a mission to make Hanukkah fun, and soon has her mother making latkes, her little brother winning at dreidel, and the whole neighborhood dancing the hora. The fun and breezy tone and affectionately drawn characters will appeal to readers who will find themselves learning a bit about the meaning of Hanukkah in the bargain. DeGroat's pen-and-ink illustrations complement this warm and funny story

Description from School Library Journal

While her classmates are given red and green paper to do their art projects, the substitute teacher gives Marla blue and white so she can make something for Hanukkah. Marla hates being singled out. What's more, she loves the way her best friend Lucy celebrates Christmas. Marla's mother had always downplayed Hanukkah. This year, Marla has lots of questions for her. With help from her little brother and her best friend, Marla is able to reawaken the joys of family tradition in her home. Her mother makes potato latkes, teaches them the hora, and gives a party for friends and neighbors. Middle grade readers will relate to Lucy and Marla's views of their families. They will enjoy the light-hearted approach to self-acceptance. The black and white line drawings show two friends enjoying each other's company and some symbols of the holidays.

Description from Children's Literature

Alexandra's Scroll:
The Story of the First Hanukkah

By Miriam Chaikin
A young girl's account of life in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E.

When the hated Syrian-Greek king fills ancient Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods and destroys the Jewish temple, feisty Alexandra takes up reed pen, ink, and sheet of papyrus and turns "scribe."

In her scroll Alexandra records the everyday happenings of her life, as well as the events of the Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees. When her father joins the resistance against the Greek authorities, Alexandra must leave her friends and the city she loves. The victory of the Maccabees three years later returns the family to Jerusalem — to old friends, new ones and, for Alexandra, a new life.

Place and time are recreated in this story of a girl caught up in the events that led to the rebuilding of the temple, the miracle of oil that burns eight days, and the celebration of the first Hanukkah.

Description from Publisher

The Book of the Jewish Year

By Stephen M. Wylen
An engaging, full-color introduction to the Jewish calendar, this is the perfect text about the Jewish holiday cycle for students in the intermediate grades. Each chapter examines the history and practice of a holiday or festival, including relevant mitzvot and minhagim; Hebrew and English blessings; biblical and rabbinic texts; related rituals, foods, and symbols; and rabbinic stories and legends. More than 100 photographs and illustrations bring history and the holidays to life. Chapters include: Shabbat * Rosh Hashanah * Yom Kippur * Sukot * Simchat Torah * Chanukah * Purim * Pesach * Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) * Shavuot * Tishah B'av.

Description from Publisher

The Hanukkah Candle Kit

By Jordan Abramson
Making Hanukkah candles is a perfect way to introduce or strengthen the family holiday tradition. This new addition to our popular line of book-plus kits comes complete with enough beeswax sheets and wicks needed to create 44 candles for the eight nights of Hanukkah, plus glitter to decorate the candles, and a beautiful box to hold them. The 48-page book contains a history of Hanukkah, directions for making and lighting the candles, prayers in Hebrew and English, and recipes, songs, and crafts to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

Description from Publisher

Hanukkah Fun : Great Things to Make and Do

By Judy Bastyra
Begin the holiday by making a menorah, one with specially decorated candles. Have fun singing some holiday songs or playing with a newly crafted dreidl, and don"t forget to send friends handmade Hanukkah cards you've made yourself.

Description from Publisher

Rediscovering the Jewish Holidays :
Tradition in a Modern Voice

By Nina Beth Cardin
A rich and innovative book that is sure to captivate your students and provide a wonderful antidote for adolescent skepticism. Rediscovering the Jewish Holidays invites your students to not only share in the treasures of Judaism, but also enrich our tradition by making their own contributions to modern Jewish life.

Using the holidays as a springboard, the text focuses students on Judaism's core truths and values–which have endured for thousands of years–while helping them understand the dynamic nature of our tradition–which inspires each new generation to make its own sacred contributions. For just as our ancient sages created prayers and rituals based on those who came before them–giving us Elijah's Cup for Passover and the Amidah prayer–so, too, do modern Jews continue to create new traditions, such as Miriam's Cup and prayers for the modern State of Israel.

Help your students rediscover the holidays and then go beyond, learning the excitement of extracting personal meaning from ancient tradition. Help them discover for themselves the sustaining values that are the foundation of Judaism, as well as the creativity and holiness with which they can enrich our tradition.

Lavishly illustrated with more than 180 full-color photographs and the midrashic art of contemporary Judaic artists, each chapter presents a key holiday, including background information, the details of observance, and the following features:
  • What Do You Think? Thought-provoking questions that foster creativity and challenge students to use their critical-thinking skills.
  • Taking Action Jewish values, such as Tzedakah, Shalom, and feeding the hungry extend the message of the holiday. Students plan concrete actions they can take to incorporate the values into their lives.
  • One People, Many Customs Interesting facts about customs in different Jewish communities help students appreciate our tradition of diversity. Title-at-a-Glance Rediscovering the Jewish Holidays
  • A Tradition of Innovation Portraits of the many ways in which our tradition has evolved–and continues to evolve–inspire students' perceptions of liberal Judaism as authentic Judaism
  • Light Bulbs: Sharing Your Bright Ideas Students imagine they are members of a synagogue committee–for example, the ritual, membership, or social justice committees–where they are asked to address challenges such as how to increase congregants' involvement in tzedakah projects and prayer services.
  • Back to the Sources Quotes from sacred texts, presented in Hebrew and English, illuminate the spirit and meaning of the holiday.
  • Honoring and Creating Jewish Tradition The final activity in each chapter helps students reflect on what they have learned and consider contributions they can make to enrich our people and tradition.

Description from Publisher

Celebrating Passover

By Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
Hoyt-Goldsmith and Migdale expand their series on American celebrations with this offering that details a Reform Jewish celebration of Passover. Hoyt-Goldsmith focuses on nine-year-old Micah Kamrass, explaining how he and his extended family prepare for and celebrate the week-long holiday. She recounts the festival's origins nearly 3,000 years ago, describes some of the special foods that are served, and explains the components and proscribed order of a seder, the ceremonial meal held during the first two nights of the festival. Illustrated sidebars depict the ancient story, and Lawrence Migdale's crisp, color photographs show the members of the Kamrass family and their activities, with captions clarifying such customs as the search for the afikomen (hidden matzoh). Festivities in Orthodox and Conservative Jewish households may vary. An attractive and useful choice for the holiday shelf; recipes, songs, and a glossary are a bonus.

Description from Booklist

One of a series of Holiday House books about American celebrations, this book presents a family in Cincinnati, Ohio, celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover. While the text does not provide vastly different information from other nonfiction picture books explaining this holiday, the full color photographs provide a distinctly up-to-date feel. Educators will be comfortable showing these pictures of children dressed in modern clothing, setting the holiday table and cooking with grandparents. The book begins with a picture of Micah, a nine-year-old boy smiling over the handlebars of his bike. The straightforward text says that Micah is a Cincinnati Reds fan and enjoys spring for two reasons--baseball and Passover. This depiction of ordinary American children celebrating a culturally specific holiday sends a positive message. There is a photograph of Micah, eating matzah at school. The caption states that his non-Jewish friends enjoy tasting matzah, too. Other photographs show traditional Passover foods, such as matzah and gefilte fish. The text includes a synopsis of the Passover story and definitions (including pronunciations) of Passover terms. Lines from a Reform Jewish Passover service are quoted. All in all, this book is a useful and attractive explanation of a Jewish holiday.

Description from Children's Literature

The Burning Light

By Betsy Ramsay
Two young time-travelers are caught up in the adventure and heroism of the Hanukkah story. They quickly discover that the Maccabees have to fight not only Antiochus and the Greek empire, but the many Jews who have accepted the ways of the Greeks and their gods.

  1. Ideal for ages 9-12 because it views the historical action through the eyes of this age group.
  2. Well researched so that the child learns of places and people recorded in history.
  3. Reveals some of the conflict that occurred within the Jewish camp between those who wanted independence and those who were completely assimilated.

Description from Publisher
The Whole Megillah (Almost)
The Whole Megillah (Almost)
Chapter summaries of the Purim story in Hebrew and English, with colorful pictures, songs, and a 10-act play with production notes.

Description from Publisher

This engaging book is designed to help older elementary children take the story to a different level. It includes abbreviated chapters of the Megillah in English and Hebrew with thought-provoking questions about each chapters. Music and a short 10-act play are also included. An excellent choice for Hebrew Schools or for parents who want their children to think beyond the basics.

Lori's Description

The Energizing Hanukkah Story for Children

By Chaim Mazo
This is a revised, expanded edition of Uh! Oh! Hanukkah, a combination of story, games, rebuses, riddles and activities about that favorite winter holiday. Bright and breezy, it guarantees hours of fun for kids and their parents, who will surely be mystified by such commands as "Check the Oil, Please!" and "Tanks, But No Tanks!" and "Right, Wrong, Left, Right." Lots of tongue-in-cheek, puns and good clean fun for the whole eight days. I only wish the publication, a bargain at $7.95, could have cleaned up cut-and-paste lines and done a better job on the quality of the color; but don't let that stop you from giving it a whirl.

Description from Children's Literature

Let's Talk About the Sabbath

By Dorothy K. Kripke
How do you teach Shabbat to children so that it really matters in their lives? Let's Talk about the Sabbath, a new book by veteran children's writer Dorothy Kripke, helps parents and teachers do just that-by capturing a bit of Shabbat's magic within its pages.

For over 45 years Kripke has been teaching children and adults about the beauty of Judaism, its celebrations and lifecycle events. Best known for her Let's Talk About... series for young children, Kripke's signature style draws readers in with simple yet meaningful descriptions of Jewish life. Let's Talk about the Sabbath delves into one of Judaism's most beautiful and central concepts, providing young people with their own guide to the Sabbath.

Beautifully written in poetry and prose, Kripke enchants readers with all the aspects of Shabbat, including candles and wine, Sabbath angels, study and prayer, and the beautiful Havdalah ceremony that ends the day. Kripke's well-rounded work also includes a description of how Shabbat has been observed throughout history, as well as explanations of how other Jewish lifecycle events such as brit milah and bar/bat mitzvah connect with Shabbat to create the fabric of Jewish life. The final chapter confronts the challenges of observing Shabbat in the modern world, noting that, although some families may not be able to observe Shabbat fully, there are still unique aspects of Shabbat that they can bring into their home.

As in her previous books, Kripke addresses her reader intimately, as a close friend. Let's Talk about the Sabbath opens with a letter to the reader, using a parable to gently set the tone for a magical journey into the world of Shabbat. Children will be drawn in by the letter's first lines, "Have you ever found secret treasure? You can! Where? In 'make-believe' stories! Not gold, or silver, or jewels, but something even more precious-ideas!" Each chapter also begins with a rhymed verse about different aspects of the Sabbath, such as prayer, study and rest.

With Kripke's graceful text and rich, original artwork by artists Stacy Crossland and Joy Nelkin Weider, Let's Talk about the Sabbath will be a truly valuable addition to any family's Judaica collection. Nothing else-except Shabbat itself-quite captures the cadences of this special day.

from the Publisher

(True Books)

By Dana Meachen Rau
The history and traditions of this Jewish holiday are clearly eXplained and depicted. The illustrations are an interesting combination of historic paintings, artifacts and contemporary photographs. The word Chanukah means rededication, which is what happened after the Maccabees drove the Syrians out of Judea and restored the Temple. The story of the miracle of the lamp oil burning was a legend that came about after the event, but many people believe that the victory of the small group over the more powerful soldiers was also a miracle. The closing pages list additional books, organizations and Internet sites, a mini glossary, an indeX and a brief bio about the author.

Description from Children's Literature

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
(True Books)

By Dana Meachen Rau
These High Holy Days have been celebrated for thousands of years. The incredible history, rich traditions, deep signifigance, and unique foods of this time of remembrance, celebration, and renewal are explored.

Description from Publisher

The Hanukkah Story

By Anita Ganeri
Watercolour illustrations breath warmth and life into the story that lies behind the Jewish festival of Hannukah. Anita Ganeri retells the traditional story with sensitivity, drawing children into the narrative.

Description from Publisher

A Bridge to Prayer :
The Jewish Worship Workbook

By Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz

Volume One:
G-d, Prayer, and the Shema

Volume Two:
The Amidah, Torah Service, and Concluding Prayers
These books are designed to familiarize young people with the fundamental prayers of our heritage and the order of the Jewish worship service. Young readers can explore the morning and evening services held on Shabbat and weekdays, while gaining an in-depth introduction to various concepts of God, prayer, righteousness, repentance, and redemption. These concepts are immediately reinforced through exercises that accompany the text.

Description from Publisher

The Exodus:
Moses' Story from the Bible
It is one of the greatest stories of all time. And even though the epic drama of Moses took place more than 3,500 years ago, it continues to thrill and teach us important lessons today. Now you can experience Moses' story as written in the first fourteen chapters of Exodus from the Bible. Surrounding the text are powerful illustrations from the DreamWorks animated film, The Prince of Egypt, as well as spiritual insights from best-selling author Charles Swindoll.

Description from Publisher

Heroes of Hanukkah

By Donald Lieberman
Judah Maccabee and his small band of freedom-fighters repeatedly clash with the Syrian army in their attempt to liberate Jerusalem and the holy Temple.

Description from Publisher

Hanukkah: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration

By Dr. Ron Wolfson
This comprehensive guide to Hanukkah, now in its second edition, will be appreciated by countless Jewish families seeking creative and memorable ways to celebrate the holiday. It opens with Wolfson's nostalgic foreword about Hanukkahs past, recounting how the experience of growing up Jewish in Omaha, Nebraska, helped him to articulate and understand his faith-and how he has sought, through the observance of Hanukkah, to pass on that identity to his children. What follows is a fine and resourceful manual about all aspects of the celebration, including recipes, crafts, gifts, games, prayers, decorations and songs. There are even corny Hanukkah jokes ("oil's well that ends well") and whole chapters on food: "If it is a real Jewish event, it involves food," Wolfson tells us. Especially helpful is a section offering parents suggestions to help their children understand the "December Dilemmas" of Hanukkah and Christmas.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Create a meaningful and happy Hanukkah in your home--with story, celebration, food and song.

This newly-designed, easy-to-use edition of a classic spiritual sourcebook offers updated information, more family ideas, and new resources for every aspect of your holiday celebration. Information on every aspect of Hanukkah is covered, including:
  • The story of Hanukkah
  • Celebrating--for families of every constellation
  • Songs and prayers in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish (with clear transliterations
  • Recipes for traditional and modern Hanukkah foods
  • "December Dilemmas"--coping with other traditions' celebrations
  • Firsthand explanations and ideas from real-life families around America

Hands-on advice and practical suggestions invite families into Hanukkah's spirituality and joys, from the making of luscious latkes and Hanukkah crafts to the stories of the heroism and the miracle that are remembered every year with the lighting of the hanukkiyah.

Description from Publisher

Grandma's Seder Plate is Missing!:
A Passover Special

By Estrin
From the makers of the original Mendy and the Golem, comes a Passover comic book. This 32 page, full-color bound softcover book is sure to make this Passover an exciting one. The story revolves around Mendy and Rivkie Klein and their adventures when they discover that the Klutz family will be visiting for Passover! The book is sure to inspire children and adults and is the perfect compliment for the Seder. We are receiving extensive media coverage for the first ever, full-featured Jewish comic book.

Description from Publisher

The Hanukkah Book
This is a well-written discussion of why and how Hanukkah is celebrated. The book contains recipes, songs, crafts with diagrams, and directions for playing with a dreidel. Widely reviewed and praised compilation for the holiday.

Description from Children's Literature

A holiday release provides descriptions of the honored traditions and symbols associated with Hanukkah while suggesting a variety of entertaining projects for children, including step-by-step instructions for making a dreidel.

Description from Publisher


By David Rose
Hanukkah is a story of courage and faith m the face of incredible odds. Whether it is the story of Judah Maccabee leading the Jews to victory over the Syrians or the Jews keeping the hunukiah lighted for eight days when there was oil for only one day, they still had the strength and perseverance to follow their God. The symbols of both the seven- and the nine- branched candle are fully explained here. The stories of the menorah are told through many personal, moving, and contemporary examples. Of course, special games, family customs, and foods are included.

Description from Publisher

Children's Treasury of Holiday Tales By Esther Van Hansel
Esther Van Handel's stories are just right. In this lovely new book, her tales highlight each holiday with a mixture of reality and fantasy that make your youngster get right into the story. A joy all year round.

Description from Publisher

Understanding Jewish Holidays and Customs: Historical and Contemporary

By Sol Scharfstein
A historical and contemporary overview of customs and ceremonies as practiced by Jews from Biblical times to the present. The author begins with a discussion of the Jewish lunar calendar upon which the holidays are based and then distinguishes between the types of holidays. The Sabbath, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Shavuot, and Sukkot go back to Biblical times and are religious. Passover (also Biblical), Purim, Chanukah, and the more recent Yom Ha-Atzma'ut celebrate historical "victories"-the survival of the Jewish people or Israel's independence. Yom Ha-Shoah memorializes the victims of the Holocaust and Yom Ha-Zikkaron commemorates the soldiers fallen in defense of Israel. Other topics covered include the synagogue and Jewish life-cycle events. Several small, black-and-white and color photographs and reproductions appear in the margins of every page, and each chapter begins with a color illustration. In a clear style and attractive format, this volume offers much information about Jewish traditions.

Description from School Library Journal

Hanukkah Crafts
Young readers will celebrate our cherished holidays with this sparkling series, filled with ideas and projects to add color and excitement to each season. Everyday materials and step-by-step illustrated directions will appeal to teachers, club leaders, and children.

Description from Publisher

Celebrate: Jewish Festivals

by Angela Wood
In Jewish Festivals, a boy in Jerusalem and a girl in Chicago explain how their families honor the holidays. Celebrate: A Book of Jewish Holidays by Judith Gross and Malka Drucker's The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays cover similar material. Each book has a time line of the religion's important dates along with a secular calendar for comparison. Interspersed with the texts are full-color photographs and artwork, as well as poetry or prose sections printed over photos of a symbolic cloth--a technique that makes for difficult reading.

Description from School Library Journal

Jewish Origami

By Florence Temko

Instructions for making Jewish origami, including a grogger, shofar, Star of David, plague of frogs, matzah cover, Torah scroll, Joseph's coat of many colors, and a dreidel. Fourteen peices of origami paper are included.

Description from Publisher

Jewish Origami II

By Florence Temko

More ideas to brighten Jewish celebrations. Included are Shavou flowers, Sabbath candles and Purim baskets.

Description from Publisher

Fun and Learning about Chanukah

The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories of Hanukkah Through History

By Karen Hesse
A collection of eight poems, each taking place on a different night of Hanukkah and following the history of Jews from twelfth-century England to twentieth-century Israel.

The story of Hanukkah is the story of triumph of light over darkness, of the small miracles that give hope to an entire people. In a series of eight powerful and evocative free-verse poems, Newbery Award winner Karen Hesse captures this resilient spirit of the Jewish people over hardship and horror, through the voices of eight children at Hanukkah. The children--from Tamara in twelfth century England and Jeremie in thirteenth century France, to Harva in seventeenth century Turkey and Ori in twentieth century Israel--have all experienced loss. But they are united by love, family, and their cherished stone lamp. The stone lamp provides each child with comfort and hope, for in its light the traditions of the Jewish people can never be extinguished.

Description from Publisher

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