It’s almost Hanukkah! Time for menorah-lighting, dreidel-spinning, latke-eating and, yes, reading.
PJ Library plays a huge role in kids’ literacy initiatives for the Jewish community. Do you know about it? You should! They send free kids’ books to families across the world every single month. No overdue library books (not that a good library visit isn’t worthwhile); no Amazon Prime. Just a new book that shows up every few weeks to read in the coziness of home. (PJ stands for “pajamas.”) Books are curated by a committee of early childhood educators and kiddie lit experts for age-appropriateness. The program is geared to kids ranging from 6 months to 8 years old.
One of this month’s signature Hanukkah selections is “The Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas.” It’s about a Jewish family who also has Indian heritage (and who makes dosas, Indian pancakes, instead of latkes). It celebrates the importance of diversity, plus tasty food, too.
PJ Library also sent these Hanukkah reads:
- “Hanukkah Delight,” written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Marc Lumer
- “Where Is Baby Dreidel?,” written and illustrated by Karen Katz
- “Hanukkah Haiku,” written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Karla Gudeon
- “How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?,” written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
- “Chanukah Lights Everywhere,” written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Melissa Iwai
- “A Horse for Hanukkah,” written by Myriam Halberstam and illustrated by Nancy Cote
- “Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Hanukkah,” written by Linda Glaser and illustrated by Nancy Cote
- “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel,” written by Caryn Yacowitz and illustrated by David Slonim
- “Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat,” written and illustrated by Naomi Howland
- “The Eighth Menorah,” written by Lauren Wohl and illustrated by Laura Hughes
- “A Hanukkah with Mazel,” written by Joel Stein and illustrated by Elisa Vavouri
- “Little Red Ruthie,” written by Gloria Koster and illustrated by Sue Eastland
- “Potatoes at Turtle Rock,” written by Anna Schnur-Fishman and Susan Schnur, and illustrated by Alex Steele-Morgan
- “Simon and the Bear,” written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Matthew Trueman
- “Yitzi and the Giant Menorah,” written and illustrated by Richard Ungar
- “Emanuel & the Hanukkah Rescue,” written by Heidi Smith Hyde and illustrated by Jamel Akib
- “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins,” written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
In keeping with the Indian theme, bigger kids (8-11 years old) have PJ Our Way, where they can choose their own books, and they were just mailed one that touches on intercultural celebrations, “My Basmati Bat Mitzvah.” Is Tara Feldstein rejecting her beloved Indian grandmother’s heritage by choosing to have a bat mitzvah? How does she feel about God? And why is her best friend Ben-o suddenly acting so weird? The book addresses stereotypes (and teen angst) in an accessible way.
Bottom line: Free, high-quality books! Seasonal themes! Um, pajamas. What’s not to love? Sign up here.