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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On Rachel Kamin’s “Move Over, Shmelf…There Are Other Books on the Shelf” (from 2016)

The first night of Hanukkah is Wednesday, December 13, Tuesday, December 12 [thanks to Julie Rosemarin for alerting us to the error!], and if you’re tempted to add the story of Shmelf, the Hanukkah Elf to your family’s holiday traditions, well, read what librarian and anti-Shmelfer Rachel Kamin had to say last year in “Move Over, Shmelf…There Are Other Books on the Shelf.” Rachel includes an extensive list of recommended books about the Jewish Festival of Lights, just in time for sharing and giving.

I remembered Rachel’s post — after the fact — when I was volunteering at our elementary school’s parent-run library earlier this week. One of the second-grade teachers asked me to read a story to her class during their scheduled visit, so I made a bee-line for the holiday books section (note to self for next week: get the Halloween books out of there). All I could find quickly were Christmas books. Tons of Christmas books. There may have been other non-Christmas titles but not many. Luckily, the teacher ran over to say, “Wait! I have just the book!” She returned with Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster, illustrated by Sue Eastland. The story was a hit, and the kids had some good questions about who the Maccabees were and about why, when the text says one candle was lit on the menorah, does the illustration show two candles? Classmates in the know got to share some of their families’ traditions. I’m pleased to see that Little Red Ruthie made the Magazine‘s Holiday High Notes list, which features a selection of new seasonal books.

Now to print out Rachel’s list and make some book-buying suggestions for our school’s collection.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.



  1. Thanks for the useful post, Elissa!

    From, another “anti-Shmelfer” ????

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