12 Children's Books About Being Brave

Inspired by the heroic Maccabees in the Hanukkah story, we've put together a list of 12 children's books featuring characters being brave and courageous. Some are taking a stand, some are taking the stage, others are making new friends or trying new things, but every single one is exhibiting ometz lev or courage of the heart.


A Spotlight for Harry by Eric A. Kimmel

Recommended for ages 8 and up

Young Harry Weiss is fascinated by the circus. He decides to try a few tricks of his own--but gets into a few scrapes along the way. It’s all good practice for the boy who will one day change his last name to Houdini.

A Time to Be Brave by Joan Stuchner

Recommended for ages 9 and up

PJ Our Way Selection

Ten-year-old David and his family live in Copenhagen in 1943, three years into the Nazi occupation. Life is complicated and a bit dangerous, as David’s family is Jewish and many of their friends and acquaintances are involved with the Resistance.

All Kinds of Strong by Sharon Baker 

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Sadie Rose isn’t very big. She can’t run that fast and she can’t lift heavy things. But when emergency strikes, Sadie Rose learns, along with the rest of her community, that there are many kinds of strength -- and it turns out that she’s very strong.

Annushka's Voyage by Edith Tarbescu 

Recommended for ages 8+

Annushka and her sister have a long trip ahead of them -- they are leaving Russia and heading for New York City. They’re a little scared, but they’re also excited -- and they can’t wait to reunite with Papa in the New World. Turns out their Shabbatcandlesticks have a role to play!

Brave Girl by Michelle Markel

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Just because Clara Lemlich is a young immigrant doesn’t mean she’s going to let factory owners treat workers poorly. After all, equality and a fair shot is what America is all about -- and no one understands that better than this brave girl.

The Hanukkah Trike by Michelle Edwards

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

Gabi is thrilled to receive a new tricycle as a Hanukkah gift. After falling off the trike and scraping her hands and knees, she’s afraid to try again, but finds courage by remembering the bravery of the Maccabees.

Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel

Recommended for ages 8 and up

Hershel finds a way to outwit the goblins that haunt the village synagogue and are keeping the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah.

Jodie's First Dig by Anna Levine

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

Jodie dreams of one day becoming a famous archaeologist. When her father takes her on a dig in Modi’in, home of the Maccabees, she is able to participate in a unique way.

Like A Maccabee by Barbara Bietz

Recommended for ages 8+

PJ Our Way Selection

Ten-year-old Ben’s got a lot on his mind in this Hanukkah-themed easy reader chapter book. He’s worried about facing his nemesis, Travis, in his upcoming soccer championship game. Ben feels misunderstood and anxious until he is inspired by his grandfather’s Hanukkah stories to stand up to Travis like a Maccabee. Young sports fans will enjoy reading this sweet and heartwarming story.

Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand by Arthur Levine 

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Pearl loved her street. She loved the people on her street, and she loved the trees on her street -- planted there by her mother years before. So when the city wants to cut them down, it’s time for Pearl to take a stand.

Maddie the Mitzvah Clown by Karen Rostoker-Gruber

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

Maddie wants to do a mitzvah (good deed), but she's very shy. Dressing up as a clown makes her feel a lot more confident, though, and clowns can do a special mitzvah -- cheering people up at her grandma's senior center!

When Mindy Saved Hanukkah by Eric A. Kimmel

Recommended for ages 5 to 7

A miniature-sized Jewish family living behind the wall of a synagogue must deal with a scary cat if they are to get the candles they need for their Hanukkah menorah.

Looking for more books about courage? Check out this list from WhatDoWeDoAllDay.com.

Want to know more about what's Jewish about being brave? Watch this episode of Shaboom!:

Find Hanukkah activities, recipes, story ideas, and more on the PJ Library Hanukkah hub.