Wednesday, December 1, 2010

At Sundown

How do you explain Hanukkah to a child? In our diverse lives today, children of all faiths wonder about the celebrations and observances of their friends and neighbors as well as their own. Children’s books create bridges to understanding by showing relevance.

THE HANUKKAH TRIKE by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter, Albert Whitman & Co., 2010

Hanukkah is an exciting time for Gabi Greenberg. All year she looks forward to the 8-day celebration of the Feast of Lights. She loves lighting the menorah. She loves helping to make crisp latkes. But it’s the stories about the brave Maccabees she loves the most. The Maccabees never gave up. Adults know they had to fight for the right to worship their God, celebrate their holidays, speak Hebrew, and restore and rededicate their Temple in Jerusalem. What does it all mean to a young child?

This year Gabi’s parents give her a Hanukkah gift, a tricycle which she promptly names, “Hanukkah.” Gabi plans to ride it everywhere, but her first try doesn’t turn out very well. She falls off. Riding a trike is a lot harder than she thought it would be.

This is when the story about the Maccabees becomes relevant. Now Gabi gets it. Not giving up is about trying again and again. Even when you think you can’t.

There are many excellent children’s books about Hanukkah. Cathy Goldberg Fishman’s book On Hanukkah is one I've enjoyed sharing. Do you have one to recommend?

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