Chanuka is in less than a month! I put together an online Chanuka book list (including some recently released books), but first I’d like to mention two books that are not in the list because they are not sold on Amazon.
Etka Gitel Schwartz’s In Those Days In This Time is a beautifully written short novel, which truly brings the story of Chanuka to life for older children and adults. I can’t recommend it enough. Extremely well researched and based on traditional sources, this is the kind of book you can’t put down that stays with you long after you finish it. It is only available in educational edition from the Torah Umesorah catalog, Jewish History section.
Another one is my own novel, Swords and Scrolls, available exclusively from Jewish Children’s Book Club. I can’t claim to be objective in recommending it :), but I’ve been getting lots of positive feedback. I wrote it as a living book, so I hope those of you who believe in teaching Torah through literature will check it out.
And here is the Chanuka book list.
As always, if you’d like this list in a spreadsheet format please email me, and I’d be happy to email it to you. There are many wonderful Chanuka books out there, and I hope you and your family enjoy them. More specific book recommendations are coming soon, G-d willing.
My children and I love all the Rebbe Mendel’s books, with their mix of Torah and adventure. We just got the newest one, Figure it Out!, and began reading it with my son. The stories in the book contain parts that are impossible, and the readers are given hints to figure out what couldn’t possibly be true. Some of the problems have to do with Jewish law, others with scientific facts, but they are all fun to solve.
The previous Rebbe Mendel books can be found here: Rebbe Mendel books.
My kids tend to ask big questions, and they start young. Back when my oldest daughter began asking about G-d, somebody recommended
Where Are You, Hashem? by Yaffa Ganz. My daughter loved it, and so did my other children. It’s a great introduction to the concept that G-d is everywhere, for ages 2-8.
Another, more recent, book that introduces children to the same concept, is
Hashem is Truly Everywhere by Chani Altein, illustrated by Marc Lumer. My husband got it for my son when he was two years old, and he really enjoyed it. The illustrations are adorable.
The Scribe by Rabbi Uri Raskin was recommended to me by my teenage daughter’s friend, and I was pleasantly surprised at its depth and profundity. While this technically isn’t a children’s book, my teenage girls and their friends enjoyed it. The Scribe deals with heavy issues — the Holocaust, faith, and father-son relationships. In the context of the story, the author discusses love and fear of G-d and touches upon the question of why bad things happen to good people. Along the way, the readers get glimpses of the process of writing a Sefer Torah. I especially recommend it to parents of children who learn in ways different from the ones supported in a traditional classroom environment.
P.S. I’d like to thank everyone who bought my book, Swords and Scrolls. If you haven’t yet had a chance to look at it, here is the link again: Swords and Scrolls. If you enjoy it, please tell your friends about it.
This morning, my seven year old son and I enjoyed reading
The Ten Tests of Avraham by Shoshana Lepon. The book is written in rhyme, which my son loved. The illustrations are great too. The book is based on midrashic sources that enumerate the ten tests of Avraham. Great for ages 6-10 or so.
We’ve also enjoyed other books by the same author:
Noah & the Rainbow, S/C,
Joseph the Dreamer (Judaica Press Children's Torah), and
Ten Plagues of Egypt, H/C.
If you’ve been enjoying my stories then here’s exciting news: my novel is here! Just in time for Chanuka, this is historical fiction set in the Land of Israel in the times of King Antiochus. The novel explores the conflict between Judaism and Hellenism through the eyes of its teenage characters, and the role of the Oral Torah in Judaism’s survival. Intended for young adults, approximately ages 12 and up. There are some heavy and scary moments, so I would not recommend it for younger or especially sensitive children. A historical note at the end puts the events described in the novel into the overall context of Jewish history.
The book is available through Jewish Children’s Book Club.
I sincerely hope you enjoy my book! And here’s a piece of inside information — I am currently working on a sequel, G-d willing, to be published before next year’s Chanuka.