The High Holidays hold a multitude of opportunities for parents and children to discover Jewish concepts together through books.
But how do parents select from the thousands of Jewish choices for kids on the market today?
The Book Selection Committee of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's P.J. Library asked the very same thing, and came up with a few choice recommendations. The committee is made up of leaders of the Association of Jewish Libraries, early-childhood specialists of Jewish day schools, book editors, synagogue librarians and curriculum developers from throughout the United States.
Harold Grinspoon, founder of the P.J. Library, explains that "these books were handpicked for conveying the most creative and accessible interpretations of the High Holidays for each age group."
The following are some recommendations for the New Year:
Apples and Honey: A Rosh Hashanah Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub (Penguin) — This book portrays Jewish New Year traditions and activities in entertaining ways with a surprise under each paper flap. With big flaps perfect for little hands, it's a great Rosh Hashanah treat for small children.
Happy Birthday World: A Rosh Hashanah Celebration by Latifa Berry Kropf (Kar-Ben) — Young children love the idea of a birthday. Kropf's decision to focus on Rosh Hashanah as the birthday of the world is sure to create much excitement among the little ones.
It's Shofar Time! by Latifa Berry Kropf (Kar-Ben) — This book truly stands out for its realistic look at a Jewish preschool classroom. The activities are fantastic for parents to model to create in-home Rosh Hashanah treats.
Night Lights: A Sukkot Story by Barbara Diamond Goldin (UAHC Press) — This classic Sukkot story is exceptional in how beautifully it places the holiday in contemporary America. In this book, the story of Sukkot is centered on the realistic fears of a small child sleeping outside for the first time.
When the Chickens Went on Strike: A Rosh Hashana Tale Adapted From a Story by Sholom Aleichem by Erica Silverman (Dutton) — While on the surface, this striking book is about the oft-forgotten custom of Kapores, the real drama surrounds a delightful little boy who is trying so hard to be better this year. The struggle could not be more familiar to parents of young children everywhere. The book's generous size, handsome design and splendid illustrations make it a natural for reading aloud at Rosh Hashanah or any time of year.
Gershon's Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year by Eric Kimmel (Scholastic) — This is the beautiful retelling of a Chasidic fable about taking responsibility for your everyday mistakes. It's a suspenseful tale of what happens to Gershon the Baker, who simply throws his misdeeds into the Black Sea. The moody watercolors are the perfect companions to a story that personifies abstract concepts in a way that makes them meaningful to primary-grade children.
The P.J. Library is not a physical library, but a national program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation that distributes high-quality Jewish children's books, at no charge, each month to young Jewish families. It currently operates in 40 communities throughout the country.
To learn more about the P.J. Library, call Marcie Greenfield Simons at 413-736-2552 or send e-mail to: [email protected]
Visit the P.J. Library Web site at: www.pjlibrary.org.