Here in the What Do We Do All Day? household we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. You may have noticed that I have a small love affair with children’s books and so today I bring you a few useful picture books to read to your kids about Jewish and Christian winter holiday traditions. 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!
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. 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+.
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!
One last thing! I’ve expanded my children’s book board selection on Pinterest, and you’ll find even more of my book recommendations and books I am eagerly anticipating over there.
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