We’ve covered so many holiday books for kids over the years, and one thing we’ve realizes is missing: a good selection of books for children who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.
While my teens may be jealous of friends who celebrate both of the big winter holidays — how many days of presents?!?! — younger kids may wonder why they are the only house on the block with both a Christmas tree and a menorah. So after combing through more than a dozen children’s books, I’ve picked out three favorites I can happily recommend for families with young kids who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.
Each can serve as a jumping off point for deeper discussion about the meaning of each holiday — or maybe it’s just a nice reminder for our kids that the holidays look different for every family.
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Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama tells the story of Sadie who thinks of herself as a “mix of two traditions,” with a Christmas-celebrating father and a Hanukkah-observing mother. This colorful picture book does a wonderful job showing how her family chooses to blend the traditions together: Daddy hangs candy canes from the menorah and Mama scatters golden gelt under the Christmas tree. Their dinner table features both turkey and kugel, fruitcake and jelly donuts. The family gathers to tell stories of the miracle of the oil…and the baby born in a manger. You get the idea.
A “Hanukkah Mama” herself, author Alko married a Christmas-observing spouse which helped inspire this book about integrating traditions and making a holiday uniquely your own. I’m pretty sure it will spur other children to come up with their own ways of combining the holidays.
Perhaps leaving out gelt for Santa or spinning a dreidel while listening to Christmas carols?
December’s Gift: An Interfaith Holiday Story by Ashley Smith-Santos and Stasie Bitton
This sweet book follows Clara as she journeys to her Bubbe’s home to fry latkes for Hanukkah, then to her Grammy’s to make sugar cookies for Christmas. While with each grandparent, she learns more about the holidays and the traditions that go along with them.
With sweet illustrations by Sandra Salsbury, December’s Gift is such a warm story with Clara’s doting grandparents showing her how to make special family recipes ,while her cute kitten closely monitors her progress. And instead of being about how many presents Clara will collect, the “gift” she comes away with is the realization that these traditions will be ones she can pass on to her own family some day.
It’s a lovely message for this time of the year.
Eight Candles and a Tree by Simone Bloom Nathan
Simply written for very young kids, Nathan’s 2014 title follows a boy named Tommy who is curious about his neighbor Sophie, because she celebrates not only Christmas, like Tommy, but also Hanukkah. After being invited to Sophie’s fun-filled Hanukkah celebration, Tommy asks Sophie why she has both a menorah and a Christmas tree. I think her explanation will ring true for many families who both observe both holidays.
One thing I really appreciate about this picture book are the illustrations by Brian Barber, featuring both Black and white friends and family coming together in Sophie’s home.
It seems right that a book about the diversity of holidays should also include some diversity of people.