We’ve put together a great list of books about Sukkot and Simchat Torah!
Sukkot is a Jewish harvest celebration that honors the protection provided to the Israelites when they fled from Egypt. One of the most unique parts of this weeklong holiday is the sukkah, an outdoor dwelling similar to a tent where all meals are taken for the week. Another element of Sukkot is the taking of the Four Kinds: citron, palm fronds, myrtle twigs, and willow twigs.
Simchat Torah, a separate holiday, immediately follows Sukkot, and marks the beginning of a new cycle of Torah reading. It is marked by joyful singing and dancing, as the Torah scrolls are displayed.
Our family knew very little about these special days in the Jewish faith, so we went on the hunt for some excellent books. These books about Sukkot and Simchat Torah and wonderful educational tools, both for families who observe these holidays and those who want to learn more!
13 Books About Sukkot and Simchat Torah
The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story by Eric A. Kimmel — This is a story of two brothers, one very wealthy and one very poor. The rich brother builds an elaborate sukkah, but doesn’t want to share his food or space with strangers. The poor brother builds a simple sukkah from recycled materials, and invites all to join him. Little do the brothers know that the strangers joining them were actually the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who leave a special blessing for the brother who was generous.
Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot by Sylvia A. Rouss — The Sammy Spider series always shows up on my book lists, because they do such a great job of introducing Jewish holidays to young children. In this volume, Sammy watches the Shapiro family build and decorate their sukkah. He even gets to sleep in it! You may also enjoy Sammy Spider’s First Simchat Torah.
The House on the Roof: A Sukkot Story by David A. Adler — This book, by one of my favorite authors, is based on a true story. A Jewish man builds a sukkah on the roof of his apartment building, but when the landlady finds it, she orders him to take it down. The conflict ends up going to court, where a judge rules in favor of the man. A lovely story that teaches about Sukkot and about religious tolerance.
The Patchwork Torah by Allison Ofanansky — As a child, David watch his grandfather work as a Torah scribe, carefully putting away old Torah scrolls in the hopes he can one day repair them. David grows up to become a Torah scribe (or sofer) himself, and he begins collecting damaged Torahs that people bring him; from disasters and atrocities such as World War II and Hurricane Katrina. His granddaughter gives him a brilliant idea about how he can bring new life to these ancient words. This book is a lovely read for Simchat Torah!
Sukkot Is Coming! by Tracy Newman — Newman’s books are a bright and cheerful introduction to Jewish holidays. In this book, young readers are introduced to Sukkot. The rhyming verse introduces all of the elements of the celebration, including building the sukkah and preparing the meals. This book is perfect for preschoolers!
The Best Sukkot Pumpkin Ever by Layla Steinberg — Micah is so excited to go to the pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin to decorate for Sukkot! While he’s there, Farmer Jared shares with him that pumpkins can also be used to feed hungry people at the local soup kitchen. Micah has a tough decision about what to do with his Sukkot pumpkins, but he makes a choice in the spirit of Tikkum Olam — repairing the world.
The Very Crowded Sukkah by Leslie Kimmelman — Sam and Ava have a great time building the sukkah with their parents. When a thunderstorm comes, the children feel bad that the sukkah is all alone in the rain. However, it turns out that the sukkah becomes host to some very special guests, and shows that G-d provides for all of His creatures.
Sky-High Sukkah by Rachel Packer — This is a powerful story about the value of community (kehilla). Lean wants to build a sukkah to celebrate Sukkot, but she lives in an apartment building, which means she has no land to build on. With the help of her neighbors and her friend Ari, Leah is able to have a sukkah on the roof of her apartment building. Members of the community from all faiths come together to help decorate the sukkah and provide food for the feast.
Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express by Deborah Bodin Cohen — Engineer Ari is driving his train to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot. Along the way, he meets new friends who help him gather all he needs to build a sukkah. When he arries in Jerusalem, he’s happy to see his friends Nathaniel and Jessie, but sad that he can’t celebrate with the new friends he’s made. Nathaniel and Jessie come up with a solution that brings everyone together in a unique way.
On Sukkot And Simchat Torah by Cathy Goldberg Fishman — This gorgeously illustrated book teachers about Sukkot and Simchat Torah by following a family as they celebrate. This book not only outlines the customs and traditions of the holidays, it captures the joyous mood of these celebrations. This book is a great choice for school-aged kids.
Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast by Jamie S. Korngold — Sadie and Ori are so excited to celebrate Sukkot that they wake up very early. They don’t want to wake their parents, so they plan their own breakfast in the sukkah, complete with juice, challah, and stuffed animal friends to join them.
Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde – Marcus and his family are forced to leave their home in Germany during the Holocaust, and they end up in Shanghai, China. Everything in China is unfamiliar, and Marcus is not sure it will ever feel like home. As Sukkot approaches, Marcus has an idea of how to make things more familiar, and he works with his friend Liang to build a very special sukkah for the observance. I recommend sharing this book with kids ages 6 and up.
Tikvah Means Hope by Patricia Polacco – Duane and Justine are working alongside their neighbors to prepare for Sukkot. However, when a fire devastates the town, everyone is left feeling pretty hopeless. However, in the midst of this disaster, there is a miracle! Hope returns to the community in the form of a little cat. Polacco is one of my favorite authors, and I think kids of all ages will love this book!
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