It has been a little bit since the last time I posted (sorry about that…stay tuned for an explanation), but I have returned with a new series of posts called “The Littlest Jews”. This series will be geared towards teachers or parents of some of our youngest students. Kicking this off is a list of my son’s favorite Jewish books (as of right now). These are the ones he makes me read over and over again. Now even though my son is fifteen months old there are definitely a lot that could be done with these books in preschool or even kindergarten. So let’s begin our list with my favorite Jewish Board Book:
Baby Be Kind – Jane Cowen Fletcher
This book is by far my favorite of probably all the board books we own (and that is a lot)! This book has gorgeous pictures, a rhyming scheme and some wonderful lessons about being a Mensch. My favorite line in the book is, “Say sorry when you are.” I think it is such a great message to encourage students to not simply spit out the word on demand but to really understand the feelings behind it. The little babies in this book, and their puppy pal, are great examples of sharing and caring. I will be purchasing a copy of this to give to a soon to be new mom.
It’s Tu B’shevat – Edie Stoltz Zolkower
Long after Tu B’Shevat has ended I still find myself reading this book multiple times a day. A wonderful introduction to our holiday for the trees, this book has simple pictures and a rhyming scheme perfect for even the littlest readers. Pair this book along with a few songs about trees (I went with Eytz Chayim and The Green Grass Grows All Around) and a project and you have a great lesson plan for Tu B’Shevat, Arbor Day, Fall or Spring time.
So here at my house we a teaching my son both English and Hebrew. With my mom being an Israeli we get a lot of chances to read both American classics in Hebrew and some Israeli books both new and from my own childhood. At the moment my son is favoring a book about Spot the Dog in Hebrew (seen in the picture above). However, we have lots of great Hebrew board books around here. If you are able to read Hebrew consider tossing in some Hebrew versions of the kid’s favorites. Here are some great choices:
Good Night Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
Where The Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss
It’s Challah Time – Latifa Berry Kropf
This book comes from a series of books all about different Jewish holidays. It’s Challah Time is all about a class of preschoolers preparing Challah for their classroom Shabbat celebration. Using pictures of real preschoolers this book is a ton of fun to look at and goes great with a classroom Shabbat program or Challah baking. This series would make a great addition to any Jewish classroom library.
My Face Book (Hebrew/English) – Star Bright Book
My son loves this book full of babies and toddlers making different faces. Each face represents an emotion written in both Hebrew and English. While I love the premise of this book I do warn that the translation into Hebrew is not very good. Even with the pictures are of girls they use the male word for the emotion. Still, my son loves looking at these little faces all the time.
I Love Jewish Faces – Debra B. Darvick
This book currently resides right next to my son’s bed and the pages are bent from his looking through it every morning. Another book filled with real photographs of Jewish people, this book talks about all the different kinds of Jews there are in the world in simple rhyming language. Just like My Face Book the pictures are of people of all different genders and races which represents the diversity of the Jewish people.
Noah and the Rainbow – Shoshana Lepon
Another book I reread often and this one is ideal for older children. Noah and the Rainbow is a retelling in rhyme of the bible story about Noah and the Flood. With colorful pictures and appropriate language this one is great for toddlers, preschoolers and even young elementary school students.
The Angel and the Donkey – Katherine Paterson
A retelling of the story of Balaam and his donkey this story is definitely not meant for little ones, but my son just adores the fantastic illustrations. Vibrant, colorful and detailed the pictures are what makes this book. The story itself might be on the long end for some little ones, but this book is great for just flipping through the pages.
So what is the best (and cheapest) way to get great Jewish books for your children? Well if you have a child or children between the ages of six months and eight years be sure to sign them up for PJ Library! A program from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library sends out a free book each month, an occasionally a CD, to Jewish children around the world. Again this is totally free and you should sign up for it ASAP!
For those families that have a Hebrew speaking adult and children between two and eight years old then you need to also check out Sifriyat Pijama B’America. This program sends free children’s books in Hebrew to those enrolled. I cannot wait till my son is eligible for this.
So there you have it. Even the littlest of kids can gain the benefits of Jewish themed books. If you or your kids or students have any favorites I didn’t list please add them in the comments!
See you all soon!
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