The Story of Hanukkah. Written by David A. Adler; illustrated by Jill Weber.
The Story of Hanukkah by David Adler is exactly what it sounds like: a story about the origination of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. What I love about this picture book is how well it communicates the story of the Jewish culture in such a factual yet understandable way for young adolescents. This book explains the historical significance of Hanukkah for the Jewish people including historically accurate people, places, and practices of the time. Despite being a children’s book, The Story of Hanukkah doesn’t disguise the fact that there was conflict, fighting, and killing taking place. It does, however, do a good job of representing this information in a way that’s easy for young adolescents to digest. Along with being historically accurate, this picture book even communicates theme, mood, and tone through the use of illustrations. Although the book mentions morbid topics such as killing and oppression, the illustrations all have some inclusion of the color blue in them. The color blue represents the modern celebration of Hanukkah and the hope that it brings for those who celebrate this holiday.
I myself never knew much about the Hanukkah story in the past. When I was younger I became intrigued and did my own research to learn more. Through this research I was able to find the cultural and historical significance of this holiday. Now, I no longer see different holidays as something for “them” and “us”. Though I am a Christian, I personally light a menorah every year because Hanukkah has a specific meaning for me: a message of hope and endurance.
This is a book that I personally would like to read to my students around the holiday season. It is no secret that American culture is far more familiar with first Christmas story than it is with the story of Hanukkah. One of my favorite aspects of history is the study of culture; I think it is never too early to start teaching children about cultures that are different than their own. This picture book can help bring students to a new knowledge and appreciation of this holiday and Jewish culture in general. If people can start to learn to appreciate other cultures more, than we can start to break down the divide that defines the difference between “them” and “us”. I would highly recommend this book to any teacher with a passion for teaching about different cultures.