Photo Credit: Jewish Press

You want to know why books make the best Chanukah gifts? It’s not just that they don’t fall into the category of things that have lots of pieces or are a royal pain to clean up (here’s looking at you Lego and Play Doh), or that reading is a mess-free activity. A well-chosen book can bring a kid hours of pleasure and also instills a love of reading, an activity that will serve them well in the years ahead. And with books out there for every child, at every age, be sure to check out these new releases from your favorite Jewish publishing companies as you ponder your last minute gifting needs.




Berel and the Missing Yarmulka – Yosef Kaufmann (Judaica Press): If you’ve ever had a three year old boy, you know that their yarmulkas often disappear. This book has Berel looking just about everywhere for his missing kipa, and even contemplates some pretty wild scenarios, only to find it in the most unexpected of places.

My First Body Book – HaShem’s Gems (Judaica Press): Sturdy enough for babies and interesting enough for toddlers this board book has cute kids teaching mini-readers all about their various body parts, tying in related mitzvos as well.

*Oh, How I Wish – Sara Blau (Hachai): All kids have things that they love to do, but the verbiage (and adorable illustrations) show they how their favorite activities can also be turned into mitzvos. How’s that for a win-win?

*I Can Wait – Rikki Benenfeld (Hachai): Having patience can be tough for anyone, especially kids, but I Can Wait takes kids through an entire week of situations where immediate gratification just isn’t possible.

My First Alef Beis Mitzvah Book Sarah Maddali (Judaica Press): It’s amazing to realize how much knowledge babies and toddlers can absorb, so you might as well start filling their heads up with practical information. Not only do kids learn their alef beis here, but each page addresses a different mitzvah.



Shabbos With Our Chocolate Moose – Rabbi Akiva Males (Menucha): This delightful look at where a delicious Shabbos dessert comes from is filled with humor and captured my heart. Stop reading and go buy this one now.

Let’s Be Honest – Bracha Goetz (ArtScroll) – Let’s face it, owning up to your mistakes isn’t always easy, and multiple scenarios here show kids doing the right thing, teaching them the importance of always being truthful, despite the inherent difficulties.

Princess Yael/Dovy’s Gam Zu L’tovah Day – Malky Weinstock (Judaica Press): The latest installments in the Lite Girl/Boy books, complete with read-along CDs. Join Yael in her 14th adventure as she learns what it means to be royalty and Dovy in his 9th book as he learns that even disappointments can have happy endings. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Where is My Other Shoe? – Tovi Baron (Seforim Tovim/Feldheim): Missing shoes can be incredibly stressful and Avi has some pretty unique ideas when his footwear goes AWOL. In addition to the fun rhymes, Avi’s quest for that elusive shoe teaches a larger lesson here about everything coming from Hashem and the power of tefillah.

*A Walk in the Woods – Chani Altein (Hachai): Going on a hike isn’t just fun, it can also be incredibly educational. Join Benny and Tzvi as they learn about mitzvos from various things they encounter while walking through the woods.


Younger Readers

Funny Sunny Comes to Town – Tehillah Bauman (Menucha): Picture a Jewish Amelia Bedelia and you totally get the Funny Sunny vibe. A great choice for kids who are getting ready to graduate from picture books to the real thing.

Beneath the Stars/Hidden – Rivkah Yudasin (Hachai): Set in communist Russia more than a few decades ago, these two books bring history to life for early readers, as they catch a glimpse of the obstacles a young Reb Yitzchak Zilber faced doing things we take for granted today, like eating in a succah and abstaining from work on Shabbos.

Shadow Pirates The Wheel is in Your Hands – Rabbi Baruch Chait (Feldheim): This fifth installment in the Good Middos series has Rebbe Lev Tov teaching lessons from Orchos Tzaddikim. Readers won’t be able to put this one down, and it is also a fabulous choice for nightly bedtime stories for slightly younger kids.

Mister Lister and the Two-Way Gift – Judith Pransky (Menucha): Starting a new year of school is never easy, especially when your best friend has moved away. Fourth grade turns out to be a real learning experience for Reuven Taprik, who finds out a lot about friendship and the importance of positivity.


Older Kids

Ora’s Story: Second Fiddle – Libby Lazewnik (ArtScroll): This debut book in an all new Starlight Sisters series introduces Ora, a musically gifted middle-schooler who always feels like she can never measure up to her older sister. Transferring to a different school, the Jewish Academy for the Performing Arts, has Ora taking her place in the spotlight, stealing readers’ hearts in the process.

The Story Box Book 2 – M. Jakubowicz (Judaica Press): There’s plenty of fun for everyone packed into these 275 pages, and the short story format is great for quick reads here and there. Kids will be able to relate to Yakov and his disastrous dreidel piñata and to empathize with Tova’s soggy wedding gown saga, to name just a few of the 40 stories here.

Rebbe Mendel – The Fake Horseradish Escapade – Nathan Sternfeld (Feldheim): Can channeling water from the Dead Sea really create a beach in Jerusalem? Is it possible to use turnip to smoke out a thief at the Pesach Seder? Rebbe Mendel is back for the 13th time with answers to these unusual questions and more as his crazy antics unfold in this short story collection.

Flight of the Doves – Susie Garber (Menucha): From Warsaw to Paris to New York City and to Missouri, older readers will get a fresh perspective on the World War II era through the eyes of 13-year-old Bayla. Separated from her family, Bayla’s journey takes her to the White House and the chuppah as her family continues its quest to join her in America.

The Burksfield Bike Club 6 Operation Kneidel – Chaim Finkelstein (Menucha): Avi Drimler and his mitzvah-loving friends are back, this time finding themselves running a school carnival to raise money for Israeli orphans. But when a printing mistake turns a dreidel contest into becomes a kneidel contest, the fun really starts, with plenty of surprises in store for the residents of Burksfield.


Graphic and Illustrated Books

Can You Find? – Hadassah Lengler (Feldheim): Think of this as a Jewish version of Where’s Waldo, albeit for a slightly younger audience. With nearly 90 different scenes (all of which have been previously featured in The Circle magazine), Can You Find? will keep kids busy for hours.

The Tannaim SeriesMeir Lamberski (Feldheim): Teaching kids about Tanaaim in a comic format is pure genius and my elementary-schoolers went nuts for these books when they first debuted. The addition of another eight volumes to the set, plus two more fabulous ones on Rabbi Akiva that are literally hot off the press will keep readers busy for hours. Oh, and you might want to borrow them too. Because, yes, they are that good.

Titanic 6 – Avraham Ohayon (Feldheim): While the Titanic may not have lived up to its reputation of being unsinkable, this series of graphic novels on the fictional Moshe Wallis certainly does. If you’ve read the earlier books, you are going to want to get this one ASAP, and if you haven’t, just start at the beginning and keep going till you get caught up in this great series.

Escape! 4 – Avraham Ohayon (Feldheim): The latest in this set of graphic thrillers, Escape! 4 is another page turner, set during the World War II era. History, intrigue and heart – this series has it all, and is a real hit with elementary-schoolers, particularly boys.


Family Reading and Entertainment

What a Story! For ChildrenRabbi Yechiel Spero (ArtScroll): Adults have been snapping up Rabbi Yechiel Spero’s stories for years and this time around, it is kids who will get to enjoy this collection of 20 great stories that will have them enthralled, whether you read them aloud with your cuties at bedtime, or young readers decide to devour them on their own.

613 Torah Avenue Sefer Bamidbar – Cheryle Knobel and Rivkah Neuman (Judaica Press): Generations of kids grew up listening to 613 Torah Avenue on cassette tapes. Now it’s time for their little ones to learn the parsha through Torah Avenue’s rhymes, presented both on a read-along CD and on the laminated pages of this great book.

The Kids Book of Challah – Rochie Pinson (Feldheim): Think of this one as everything you needed to know about challah but were afraid to ask, and then some. Geared to bakers of all ages, this book runs the gamut, from classic loaves to piñata challahs, and from churros to pecan pie babka buns. Whether you want to bake with your younger set, give your teens a project all their own, or keep this one for yourself, this is a book you totally want to own.

What One Person Can Achieve R. Gershuni (Judaica Press): Following up on its 2018 book on the life of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Judaica Press releases two more volumes in its What One Person Can Achieve series – offering a glimpse into the lives of Rav Aharon Kotler and Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Intended for kids ages 10 and up, these books are filled with beautiful drawings and inspiring stories that will motivate kids to aim high in all that they do.


Managing Emotions (Younger Kids)

The Friend That Stayed – Chanie Kamman (Feldheim): Bracha has a meltdown when her painting accidentally gets ruined, and the various people who try to make her feel better aren’t understanding what she needs most. Thankfully her friend Sara shows up, allowing her to experience her sadness so that she can move on.

Seeing Good, Not Bad, Changes Sad to Glad – Ahuva Raanan (Feldheim): It’s Bubby to the rescue, teaching Rachel about the power of always looking for the good in life. Young readers will love having a pair of pink glasses for their emotional toolbox, a reminder to always look at the bright side.

In Hashem’s Hands – Naomi Gross (Judaica Press): There couldn’t be a better time than right now for an age-appropriate book on bitachon, a powerful reminder that Hashem always has our best interests at heart.

Mountain Climber – R. Kadosh (Judaica Press): Taking the easy way out may look appealing, but as Rina discovers, nothing beats the feeling of stretching your limits and discovering just how much you are capable of.


*Laminated pages for less gentle page turners


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Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients. She can be contacted at [email protected].