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The Association of Jewish Libraries has created "Hanukkah Read Up!," a list of Hanukkah books for children recommended by the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee. The colorful, detailed 2-page flyer is available on the AJL website at

Each of the 29 titles includes a brief summary and age recommendation. All the books on the list have been recognized by the award committee as gold or silver medalists or as "Notable Books." In addition, AJL devotes a special section of the list to the Hanukkah works of prolific author Eric A. Kimmel, a past Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award winner.

The "Hanukkah Read Up!" list will be useful to families seeking great Hanukkah gift books and seasonal stories for their children, and will serve as guidance to librarians and booksellers who wish to stock holiday titles. Libraries, booksellers and other literary groups are welcome to distribute the list, digitally or printed out, to their own users.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries to the best in Jewish children's and teen literature each year. A committee of children's librarians and other children's literature experts evaluates over one hundred books to find the best of the best. Read more about the award (and non-Hanukkah books that have won medals) at

When I sent out an email to AJL members asking for Tu B'Shevat resources for a blog post, I was overwhelmed by the responses.

AJL's Bibliography Bank has lots of resources, including two dedicated bibliographies just on Tu B'Shevat and lots of other suggestions mixed in with bibliographies on holidays and children's literature.

You can also search in AJL's fabulous Jewish ValuesFinder resource.

AJL Librarian Melinda Herman of the Beth-El Synagogue Center recommends A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry and Marc Simont, Zolkower's It's Tu B'Shevat, Gold-Vukson's Grandpa and Me on  Tu B'Shevat, The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco, Behold the Trees by Sue Alexander and Leonid Gore, and Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand by Arthur A. Levine and Robert Roth.

The Jewish Community Library of Greater New Haven responded with a link to their catalog, where you can find lots of great Tu B'Shevat materials. Click on "holidays" under EXPLORE.  Then click on Tu B'Shevat.

Publisher Kar-Ben sent me a link to their selection of Tu B'Shevat books.

AJL Librarian Basya Karp of the Shulamith High School and the Shulamith School for Girls says "Dear Tree by Doba Rivka Weber (Hachai Publishing) is a gem of a book in which a young boy expresses his wish that his favorite tree should always have what it needs to flourish."

AJL Librarian Natasha Krause of the Vancouver  Talmud Torah School likes The Giving Tree, Sammy Spider’s Tu B’Shevat and Grandpa and me on Tu B’Shevat by Marji Gold-Vukson.

AJL librarian Barbara Mende suggested Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree and Sylvia Rouss's Sammy Spider's Tu B'Shevat and It's Tu B'Shevat by Edie Stoltz Zolkower.

Jennifer Russell, an MLIS student in Ohio, says "I really enjoyed Behold the Trees by Sue Alexander (a history of the land of Israel focusing on the fate of the trees) for upper elementary readers (although it's in picture book format, it's a sophisticated narrative).  The illustrations, by Leonid Gore, are excellent. And there's always the picture book Solomon and the Trees, by Matt Biers-Ariel."

AJL librarian and kidlit guru Linda Silver created a bibliography, For the Trees, for the Greater Cleveland AJL's blog.

AJL Librarian Ellen Tilman of Meyers Library, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, says "We define Tu B'Shevat very broadly and include books about trees and the environment.  I am particularly fond of the two books about Wangari and her planting trees in Kenya. (Planting the Trees of Kenya and Wangari's Trees of Peace.)"

I also received a number of full-length bibliographies and shelflists that I wasn't able to include on a brief blog post but I encourage you all to visit your local synagogue or community-center library to check out their holdings- there's a lot of great stuff out there!

Feel free to leave a comment on this post with your favorite Tu B'Shevat books for children- or adults!

Posted by Marie.
Some fun Chanukah-related posts:

The Donut Diaries- First Night, from TCJewfolk.

Happy Hanukkah (in song), from Jewesses with Attitude.

From the Jewish Book Council and featuring several members of AJL, It's Christmastime for Chanukah Books.

Hanukkah Lights 2010, from National Public Radio.

Now some non-holiday related posts:

Brown University's John Carter Brown Library features an online exhibit on Jews and the Americas.

Finding 'Teachable Moments' in Animal Tales, from National Public Radio.

Just for fun from the Library History Buff Blog, a New York Society Library Charger, 1798-1792. Do you have any interesting artifacts in your library you'd like to share with the AJL community?

From the University of Toronto Libraries newsletter, Creating a Culture of Connection Among Instructors, Librarians and Students, an academic libraries perspective.

The Academic Librarian's Identity Conflict, from the ACRLog.

Got some great links to share? Feedback? Email me at mcloutier at Have a happy holiday!

Posted by Marie.

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. Illus. by Amy Cartwright. Price Stern Sloan. Preschool. The familiar words of the children’s Hanukkah song flow along the pages of this charmingly illustrated board book. There’s a nice surprise waiting at the end: a pop-up scene with a spinning menorah.

Eight Winter Nights by Laura Kraus Melmed. Illus. by Elizabeth Schlossberg. Chronicle. Preschool-Kdg. Short verses tell the story of a family’s enjoyment of Hanukkah, from lighting the menorah to singing, dancing, eating, and giving tzedakah. The pencil and pastel illustrations in shades of rust and magenta bathe the story in a warm, cozy light. End notes give background on the holiday and its traditions.

The Hanukkah Trike by Michelle Edwards. Illus. by Kathryn Mitter. Albert Whitman. Kdg. – Gr. 2. A little girl named Gabi is thrilled to receive a new tricycle at the end of the first night of Hanukkah. She names it “Hanukkah” but is daunted when she tries to ride it and falls off. The story of the Maccabees inspires her to persevere and her success is captured in bright paintings as well as in a rather bland text.

Happy Hanukkah Lights by Jacqueline Jules. Illus. by Michelle Shapiro. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Preschool. Rhymes, counting, and Jewish traditions are combined in this board book that shows a family’s joyful Hanukkah celebrations on all eight nights. The illustrations are cheerful and child-like.

Jackie’s Gift: A True Story of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson. Illus. by E. B. Lewis. Viking. Gr. 1-4. When young Steve Satlow helps his neighbors, the family of the baseball great, Jackie Robinson, trim their Christmas tree, he tells them that his family has no tree of their own. Not realizing that the Satlows are Jewish, Jackie delivers them one. After a few awkward moments, the Satlows decide that for this year only, they’ll have both a menorah and a Christmas tree. Jackie Robinson’s daughter wrote this handsomely illustrated story based on real events and it abounds with friendship and understanding.

The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah by Bill Berlin and Susan Isakoff Berlin. Illus. by Peter J. Welling. Pelican. Preschool-Kdg. There is no joy in Oyville when the local kvetch steals all of the menorahs. But fear not: the town’s brave children confront the old man, regale him with the story of the Macabbees and the true meaning of Hanukkah, and accomplish a miracle by opening the kvetch’s heart and mind to the joy of the holiday. Unpolished but energetic illustrations abound in a zany story that is meant to remind children of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.

Maccabee! The Story of Hanukkah by Tilda Balsley. Illus. by David Harrington. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Kdg. - Gr.3. The story of how Judah and the Maccabees fought the tyrant Antiochus for religious freedom o the Jews and the restoration of the Temple is retold in this animated rhyme punctuated by a repeated refrain: "Sometimes it only takes a few,/ Who know what's right, and do it, too." The rhythmic narrative is enhanced by bold paintings and would lend itself to readers' theatre.

A recommended reading list from AJL's Jewish Valuesfinder:

Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express. Illus. by Shahar Kober. Kar-Ben/Lerner. The chipper trio of railroad engineers first met in Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride builld a sukkah and place it on the train to share with all their friends along the tracks from Jaffa to Jerusalem. ( Kdg; Primary)

Even Higher: A Rosh Hashanah Story by Eric A. Kimmel. Illus. by Jill Weber. Holiday House. A skeptic is convinced of the rabbi's holiness in this lively retelling of one of I. L. Peretz's best-loved stories. (Primary; Elementary)

Greater than Gold and Silver
by Rav Naftali Ehrmann. Illus. by Chedvah Rubin. Feldheim. A lavishly illustrated Sukkot story about the mitzvah of the etrong, written from an Orthodox point of view. (Primary; Elementary)

New Year at the Pier by April Halprin Wayland. Illus. by Stefane Jorisch. Dial Books for Young Readers. Izzy, his family, and members of their congregation gather at the pier to symbolically cast away their sins in the ceremony of tashlich. Action and emotions are captured by the lilting illustrations. (Preschool; Primary) WINNER OF A SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD.

Sammy Spider's First Simhat Torah by Sylvia A. Rouss. Illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Sammy and his human buddy, Josh, learn what the holiday is all about and Sammy takes a ride to shul on a candy apple! (Preschool; Primary)

The Secret Shofar of Barcelona
by Jacqueline Dembar Greene. Illus. by Doug Chayka. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Secret Jews find a way to blow the shofar in plain sight during a concert for the Spanish nobility. Set in Spain during the Inquisition, the story celebrates faith and courage. (Primary; Elementary)

Sukkot Treasure Hunt by Allison Ofanansky. Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern. Kar-Ben/Lerner. After building their sukkah, an Israeli child and her parents search the hills and valleys of the Gallilee for myrtle, willow, palm, and citron. Color photographs add realism to a story set in Israel. (Primary; Elementary)

Tashlich at Turtle Rock by Susan Schnur. Illus. by Alex Steele-Morgan. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Primary. A family custom - walking in the woods on Rosh Hashanah - offers an idyllic view of the ceremony of tashlich. (Primary)

Today is the Birthday of the World by Linda Heller. Dutton. A beautifully illustrated story about animals and children doing their best. Although Rosh Hashanah is never mentioned, the theme reflects the holiday's meaning. (Preschool; Primary)
For the holiday of Shavuot, AJL President Susan Dubin wanted to share a family tradition and poem she wrote about the holiday and what it means to her:

I share the book The 11th Commandment and have the children share their own 11th commandment. I also have written several poems that I am happy to share about the story of Ruth:

I am alone now.

My husband is dead.

My father-in-law is also gone, as is my husband's brother.

But still I had you, Mother Naomi, and Ruth, my sister.

I know I am not the daughter of your flesh,

But you are the mother of my heart.

I did not share parents with you, Ruth,

But you are my chosen sibling.

And now you, too, must go.

So, I am truly alone.

I cannot come with you like my sister Ruth.

It is not because I love you less, Mother.

My home is not in Israel.

My people are not the children of Jacob.

My god is not the God of Abraham.

I would be a stranger in your land.

When you have returned to your home, Mother,

Will you remember me?

I knew happiness with your son.

He loved me, and I loved him.

If he had lived, I would still be your daughter.

My children would be part of your household.

But you have left me in my own land.

I will never see your face again.

For this I weep.

Good-bye, Naomi.

Your Moabite daughter will sing your praises now and forever.

Good-bye, Ruth.

Hold the memory of your Moabite sister in your heart.


When I said that I would follow you,

I did not know where we would go.

I did not know who we would meet.

I did not know.

When I said that I would be one with your people,

I did not know how different our life would be.

I did not know how bitter you would become.

I did not know.

When I said that I would accept your God,

I did not know if your God would accept me.

I did not know if I could truly believe.

I did not know.

Now I know that when my husband died my life was not over.

Now I know that love can be mine again.

Now I know that happiness still awaits me.

Now I know.

Your people have shown me kindness and compassion.

Your kinsman has accepted my love.

Now I am a daughter of Israel even though I was born a stranger.

Now I am home.


How can I welcome this bride of my son?

She is not of my people.

She is not of my land.

And yet, she has been a faithful wife.

She has been a devoted daughter.

If she comes with me,

I will have to care for her.

I am afraid that my shriveled heart

Cannot make room for her devotion.

She claims that she desires only to make my people hers,

My home, her home,

My G-d, her G-d.

But what if she grows lonely for her own people,

Her own land, her own G-D?

I know not what awaits me in Bethlehem.

Maybe all she wants is my mother-love.

But I am a bitter woman

Who dares not promise anything.

If she leaves me, I will truly have nothing.

Can her daughter-love sweeten my sour soul?
Posted in: Holidays