Back-To-School is a time for new beginnings. For the Jewish community, it is also a time to start fresh with a new year in the Hebrew calendar called Rosh Hashanah (this year starting the evening of September 4th). On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate the creation of the world while dipping apples in honey to represent a sweet year ahead. What better way to think about fresh starts than through some fabulous children’s books?
Here are some favorites for the Rosh Hashanah holiday:
Apples and Honey by Joan Jolub and illustrated by Cary Pillo
This sweet lift-the-flap book follows a family as they prepare for Rosh Hashanah. There is so much to do from making holiday cards, baking challah, eating apples and honey and going to temple to hear the Shofar. Each page offers an interactive world for young readers to enjoy.
A playful introduction of Rosh Hashanah through a story about Israel’s first train from Jaffa to Jerusalem. Follow along and see all the special deliveries Engineer Ari makes as he arrives in Jerusalem in time to celebrate the New Year. This story uses traditional symbols of Rosh Hashanah including apples and honey, round challahs and the Shofar.
The World’s Birthday by Barbara Goldin and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Daniel is determined to have a birthday party for the world to celebrate the Jewish New Year. But how can you have a party and invite the whole world? That is just too many people. See how Daniel celebrates the Jewish New Year with his family and includes the whole world in the celebration.
On Rosh Hashanah, Izzy and his family make a list of all their wrongdoings from the year. Then they apologize for them and throw pieces of bread into the water as a way to “clean the slate,” or clear their hearts. This is a must read story that truly shows the importance of reflection and forgiveness. Winner of the Sydney Taylor Gold Medal for best Jewish picture book of the year!
The Secret Shofar of Barcelona by Jacqueline Greene and illustrated by Doug Chayka
Ages: 6 and up
This special story takes place in the late 1500’s when Don Fernando, conductor of the Royal Orchestra of Barcelona, prepares a concert to celebrate the Spanish colonies in the New World. Meanwhile his son, Rafael, secretly practices blowing the Shofar (a sacred horn) despite laws forbidding Jews from practicing their religion. Rafael must decide whether he can blow the Shofar while his father’s Orchestra performs. A beautiful story that includes historical facts and a glossary to help explain what life was life during that period of time.
While taking time to prepare for the year ahead, remember to take some quiet moments to read to your children. These books will quickly become cherished bedtime stories.
Happy Reading and Happy New Year!
Lisa Katz, librarian and mom, provides books reviews and blog posts exploring children and young adult literature at www.hookedbooks.blogspot.com. PJ Library® is a local program that sends free Jewish books and music to the homes of children in the Bay Area.