Like a growing number of households, we are an interfaith family and celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. I love to see that reality reflected in the picture books I read to my kids.
Picture Books for Kids who Celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah
Of course, you don’t need to be part of an interfaith family to appreciate these books as long as you remember: Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas! (Note: Book covers and titles are affiliate links below.)
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama. In this cheerful story, a young girl describes her family’s unique traditions like caroling to the neighbors about both the Maccabees and the manger or making latkes to leave for Santa. One of the best aspects of this book is that it shows the extended family members from both sides of the family coming together rather than having separate celebrations. There is also a recipe for Cranberry Kugel stuffing: the ultimate interfaith side dish!
The Trees of the Dancing Goats. Patricia Polacco is a master of writing picture books which thoughtfully address sensitive issues. As Trisha prepares for Hanukkah with her family she learns that the neighboring Christian families are afflicted by a scarlet fever epidemic. Unable to feel good about celebrating while their neighbors are suffering, Trisha’s family work together to help them. A wonderful, positive story about finding joy in giving to others.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story. Tongue-in-cheek humor makes this hilarious book one of my holiday favorites. After escaping from a hot frying pan, a Hanukkah latke runs through a forest encountering various Christmas icons like candy canes and holiday lights. Each one tries to convince him that Hanukkah is “just like Christmas, only different.” Eventually the frustrated latke finds his place among an understanding Jewish family. Unfortunately, they are just sitting down to dinner…
Light The Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And Christmas. For those looking for a secular exploration of the two holiday traditions, this book fits the bill. In a simple story, a girl describes how her family prepares for the two holidays.
My Two Holidays: A Hanukkah and Christmas Story. At school, Sammy worries that his friends won’t understand his interfaith family. Although it is hard to imagine anyone in diverse New York City being embarrassed about celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah, this is a nice, short story for teaching kids about the joys of practicing multiple religious traditions.
My Two Grandmothers. Grammy Lane lives in the country, Bubbe Silver lives in the city. Their granddaughter loves both of them and their respective traditions but this year she decides it’s time to bring everyone together.
Elijah’s Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas. This is a beautiful and moving story about religious tolerance. An African-American barber gives a Jewish boy a carved wooden angel and Michael worries that he will offend his parents and God if he keeps it. When he tells his parents of Elijah’s gift they share with him the joy of having friendships that transcend religious boundaries. The illustrations are gorgeous. Due to some sensitive subject matter touching on the darker parts of African-American experiences, I recommend this book for ages 7+.
Eight Candles and a Tree. Sophie tells her friend Tommy about how her family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. In doing so, they learn the most important thing about the holidays is spending time with family.
Nonna’s Hanukkah Surprise. Rachel is headed to Italy to visit her grandmother in Italy. She worries that she will miss Hanukkah and takes along her menorah. When she forgets her menorah on the airplane, her non-Jewish grandmother steps in to save the day.
December’s Gift: An Interfaith Holiday Story. Clara spends December with her two grandmothers, baking Christmas cookies with one and frying latkes with the other. Like most of the books on this list, the overriding lesson is that holidays are about family above all.
The following books are not about interfaith families, but about the co-existence of Hanukkah and Christmas.
Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein. Rachel is Jewish but she really wants to celebrate Christmas so she secretly writes a letter to Santa.
The Only One Club. Jennifer is the only Jewish member of her school class. When her classmates want to join her “only one” club, everyone discovers their individuality.
Oskar and the Eight Blessings. A boy arrives in New York after living through Kristallnacht. It is the 7th night of Hanukkah as well as Christmas Eve and he must walk 100 blocks to find his aunt. Along the way he encounters people who show him kindness, sees the holiday sights of the city and passes landmarks which inspire him to reflect on his circumstances.
Are you part of an interfaith family? How do you incorporate multiple holiday traditions? Do you have any favorite books about interfaith life? Is that too many questions? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
More holiday book lists:
- Holiday read aloud novels the whole family will love
- Christmas chapter books
- Multicultural Christmas picture books
- Swedish holiday picture books
Don’t miss our printable interfaith ornament!