Celebrate Hanukkah with Bubbe’s Tales

Celebrate Hanukkah with Bubbe’s Tales
Celebra Hanukkah con un cuento de Bubbe



Three Jewish siblings play with the dreidel and are looking forward to eating their grandmother’s delicious latkes as part of the Hanukkah celebration. They call their grandmother with the Yiddish noun Bubbe.
But there aren’t enough latkes for everyone. Will they all remember Bubbe’s story of generosity, or are the latkes too tempting to pass up?


An overview of the history of Hannukah and a description of the different aspects of its celebration. There is also mention, illustrated with photographs, of other festivals around the World that use lights, as Hannukah does. During the Indian Duvali or Festival of Lights, Kawanzaa, Christmas, and Vesak’s the celebrations of Buda’s birthday, all with explanation of national celebration. With numerous informative photographs.


Each of the twenty four books in this collection dedicated to some of the most important holidays and festivities celebrated in the United States is the combination of two books in one. The first part is an engaging realistic fiction story beautifully illustrated by a diversity of illustrators. The second part is a non-fiction piece that explains the history and significance of the holiday or celebration. This second part is illustrated with bright and unique photographs that will allow children to witness the celebration.

The festivities addressed include:

For more details in the series and the values it presents see the series description: Series Stories to Celebrate / Cuentos para celebrar. There is also an individual page, like this, for each of the books in the series.

Lesson plans and questions to guide the Creative Reading Dialogue can be found on the SantillanaUSA website: www.santillanausa.com/cuentosparacelebrar.htm


There are two CDs with the readings of the twelve stories in English and two CDs with the readings of the twelve stories in Spanish.

The CDs will allow children to follow a professional reading aloud individually or in groups.

They can be beneficial to children learning a second language, whether English or Spanish, since they will be able to read the book in their stronger language and then listen to the recording in the second language, or vice versa.


The old Jewish tale of the Two Brothers has always enchanted me, because it shows that one can never be too generous.

I have told that tale many times. I turned it into a play, Los dos hermanos, which is included in my book Exploramos, of the series Hagamos caminos and in the book co-authored with Isabel Campoy, Saludos al público.

In my book My Name is María Isabel or Me llamo María Isabel the protagonists finds a happy ending thanks to the song “Las velitas de Hanuka,” created by my good friend and excellent composer Suni Paz.

The text to the song and the musical notation can be found in the poetry anthology Días y días de poesía, in the selection corresponding to December 20, page 84.

Since I am only one of the authors of this book. You can visit www.isabelcampoy.com to read what the other author has to say.

Many readers are intrigued about how two authors collaborate to write a book. If you share this curiosity you may enjoy reading how Isabel Campoy explains this experience in the chapter authored by her “Writing in Collaboration: One plus One is One or Two” in the book Alma Flor Ada and You, volume II published by Libraries Unlimited.


Children who read this book may want to act Bubbe’s tale as a play. They will find it dramatized as the play Los dos hermanos included in the book Saludos al público in the Colección ¡Arriba el telón! of Theatre Series of Cielo abierto.


SDSU Children’s Literature Reviews

Renowned children’s book authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy take us around the Hanukkah table at Bubbe’s (Yiddish for grandma) house where three siblings learn about generosity as they are each tempted by the golden fried latkes laid out before them. In true culturally Jewish fashion, Bubbe tells a traditional Hanukkah tale of two brothers during the time of Jewish slavery that mirrors the generosity the children are displaying to one another. The first part of the book is written in dialogue as it tells its story.

Originally written in Spanish, this book also has an English translated version available. Older readers could work on translation skills by analyzing the text of both copies. For both versions, Mariano Epelbaum provides bright and inviting illustrations, with many clearly articulated details ripe for student questioning. Translations for Yiddish words are provided at the bottom of each page where they are used in a text size that may require teacher assistance depending on the age.

The second part of the book reads as expository text about the aspects of Hanukkah. It has much more of a textbook quality in that it features photographs in place of Mariano Epelbaum’s illustrations. Readers may want to know that the majority of the photographs are of Ashkenazi Jews, in other words light skinned, as opposed to providing the reader with a more representative picture of multicultural Jewish identity. Even with this critique, however, this seems to be the only children’s book about Hanukkah written in Spanish in current circulation. The section on the dreidel game can also be easily converted into a collaborative math lesson on number sense. In the end of this informational section, a variety of other winter holidays that feature lights are presented. This can be used to encourage multicultural dialogue and further analyzed with the use of a Venn diagram.

This book is perfect for K-6, depending on the intention of instruction. Social Studies topics of family, food, generosity, and multicultural awareness can all be easily addressed. Language arts in either English or Spanish, depending on the copy, can cover myths and legends, expository text, and elements of a story. As mentioned earlier, math lessons on number sense can also be found within these pages. It is also simply an entertaining read for learners of all ages who would like to learn more about the Hanukkah holiday.

Highly recommended. Reviewed by Aspen Shirley-Dancoff

This review is part of the Special Section: Books in Spanish, featuring a collaboration with Policy and Language Studies students at San Diego State University. Read more about it here.


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