Monday, November 30, 2015

I have a little dreidel...

Hannukah Books for You
by Hilde Garcia
With Hannukah right around the corner, it’s time to take stock and stock up on great books for the season.
When my kids were younger, I posted a list of excellent Hannukah reads. And then in a blink, I have a couple of pre-teens and I needed new choices.
Here are some great titles I found, with quick descriptions. And if it is a girl you want to empower- or a boy- check out Rachel Rosmarin’s post from 2012 on 8 best Jewish YA books for girls. But just because it says "for girls" doesn't mean anything. I know for a fact, my son will want to read all of these titles.  Of course,her list begins with Judy Blume, but the titles are all fabulous. I loved The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. It gave me chills longer after I read it.
I think I am going to track these down and leave them all over the house for my kids with notes that say “Read me! Happy Hannukah!”  Lucky for me, they need little encouragement to follow that direction.

How I Saved Hanukkah                                                          
by Amy Koss

(Penguin Putnam, 2000. ISBN: 9780141309828)

I love this book, written by my good friend Amy Koss. This chapter book is both funny and heartwarming. Fourth grader Marla Feinstein, the only Jewish student in her class, is feeling aggravated. All her friends are getting ready for Christmas. Her dad is out of town, and her family has never done much about Hanukkah. Once Marla decides to find out what Hanukkah is all about, things change rapidly. This is a good book for seven- to ten-year-old independent readers. Check your public library for a copy.

Abuelita’s Secret Matzahsby Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Illustrated by Diana Bryer

(Elementary School)

In engaging, accessible language, Abuelita’s Secret Matzahs tells children the fascinating but little-known story of Crypto Jews, Jews forced to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition who secretly maintained their Jewish identity and customs throughout the ages, often unaware of the reasons for some of these customs.

Always an Olivia                                                

by Carolivia Herron

(Ages 7-10, Grades 2-4)

An elderly black grandmother passes on the story of the family’s Jewish origins to her young granddaughter, Carol Olivia. As family members flee the Spanish Inquisition, are kidnapped by pirates and eventually sail to America, one daughter in each generation is given the name Olivia, from the Hebrew Shulamit meaning “peace,” to honor the Jewish part of their ancestry.

Black Mirror

by Nancy Werlin
(Ages 12-up)

Frances has always felt isolated at her New England prep school, but more so now that her brother has killed himself by overdosing on heroin. When Frances joins the social services charity her brother belonged to, she discovers that all is not as it seems, and realizes how little she really knew him. In this story, Frances is Japanese/white American and Jewish.


by Virginia Hamilton
(Ages 10-up)

Bluish is unlike any girl 10-year-old Dreenie has ever seen. At school she sits in a wheelchair, her skin so pale it’s almost blue. Dreenie, herself new to the New York City magnet school, is fascinated by her, but wary as well. Unaware that the nickname Bluish could have derogatory connotations (“Blewish,” for Black and Jewish), she fixates on the moonlight blue skin tones of this curiously fragile child. Together with Tuli, a bi-racial girl who pretends to be Spanish (often with poignantly comical results), the three carefully forge a bond of friendship, stumbling often as they confront issues of illness, ethnicity, culture, need, and hope.

8 More Great Titles

Click on this link to visit Rachel’s page and see descriptions of these excellent book choices.

The titles are as follows: Starring Sally J. Freedman as herself; There Is No Such Thing as a Hannukah Bush, Sidney Goldstein; Once I Was a Plum Tree; The Devil’s Arithmetic; All-of-a-Kind Family; Molly’s Pilgrim; One More River, and The Return.


  1. Hilde, I searched the posts and I can't find another post about Hanukkah. I wish you had done PB post. But I love this one. Thank you.!


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