Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hannukah Readings

Happy Hannukah to all of you who celebrate it. So far ours has been good, with gelt, gifts and latkes, of course. More of all of those to come in the next few days, along with yummy donuts too.

Yesterday, I was asked to go to Ethan's preschool class to talk about the holiday to his class. I loved it! I read a book, showed them our Menorah and left them a bag of chocolate coins for snack time. They couldn't have been cuter. The best part is that at dinner, Ethan said he was thankful that his Mommy went to his class. It doesn't get any better than that!

Over the last few years, we've accumulated a nice collection of children's Hannukah books (anything to try to balance out that giant tree!). Reading a holiday book each night in December has become one of our family traditions. As I was thinking about the book I read to the preschoolers, I thought I'd share my favorites here in case any of you still need a few ideas for the kids on your Hannukah gift list. By the way, these would also make a great addition to classroom libraries. Unfortunately, most classes are woefully lacking in Hannukah materials. Be a mensch and help them out!

A Blue's Clues Chanukah:This is the book I read to Ethan's class. Despite it being written for preschoolers, it's quite comprehensive. It doesn't discuss the war and victory which led to the holiday, but it covers all of the rituals and traditions of Hannukah. Blue and his pals are invited to a Hannukah party at Orange Kitten's house. Since none of them have ever been to one, Orange Kitten explains everything that is going on. From Menorahs and latkes to the dreidel game, it's all covered. There are even a couple of simple songs at the end.

The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: This newest addition to our collection is by Lemony Snicket. So already you know it's going to be a little on the strange side. It's about a screaming latke who escapes the pan of hot oil and runs into different symbols of Christmas. Each time he has to explain why he has nothing to do with Christmas. The subtitle of this book: A Christmas Story, might lead you to think that it is about celebrating the two holidays in peace and harmony side by side. That is not the case. It's more about the fact that Hannukah seems to get swallowed up by Christmas and that so few people understand what the holiday is really about. It's a great depiction of what it feels like to be the only person celebrating Hanukah in a world covered with Christmas lights. Plus it's funny!

It's A Miracle: I love this book and have purchased several copies as gifts. Luckily, it's available in paperback this year. It is about six and half year old Owen, who this year has become his family's O.C.L. - Official Candle Lighter. Each night of Hanukah, Owen's grandmother tucks him in and tells him a different story. From Palominos to aliens, her stories are quite diverse. As it turns out, the stories tie Owen more closely to his own family. But the book also includes positive references to celebrating Christmas and acknowledges that in our country, celebrating Hanukah goes hand-in-hand with that other December holiday. What I love is the theme of family that runs throughout the book. Owen celebrates the holiday not just with his parents, but also grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles. The illustrations in this book are also great. Kids are going to love Owen and his grandma.

Light The Lights: We've had this book for a couple of years and my kids really enjoy it every year. It's about a little girl, Emma, whose family celebrates both Christmas and Hannukah (sound familiar?). It deals with the holidays respectfully and sweetly, and focuses on the commonality of Hannukah candles and Christmas lights. Emma's family honors both traditions and the result is a sweet but not preachy little book with pretty illustrations.

Thank you Aviruthia for the lovely Menorah picture.

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