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Rosh Hashanah Books for Children and their Parents and Grandparents

The High Holy Days are upon us, and this year most of us will not be gathering with family or attending services in person. Luckily, we can still connect with loved ones by video chat to share special holiday moments on Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and other applications.

One of the easiest ways to bond with youngsters, whether in person or online, is by reading a story together. Even older, literate children enjoy the fun of sharing a story and the focused attention of the adult who shares it with them. Books can be shared the old-fashioned way, by holding them up in front of the camera, and some titles are also available as e-books which can be shown to your audience by sharing your screen.

Here is a selection of short, entertaining Rosh Hashanah picture books that you can read with the kids in your life!

Is It Rosh Hashanah Yet? By Chris Barash, illustrated by Alessandra Psacharopulo (ages 2-5)

Brief, rhyming text and gently rounded illustrations provide an overview of holiday customs, from making new year’s cards to eating brisket.

 

 

Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Jim Starr (Ages 3-8)

In the tradition of Paul Bunyan, this book introduces a Jewish giant. Big Sam thoughtlessly uses the American landscape as his kitchen (the Grand Canyon is his mixing bowl) but does teshuvah when he realizes the mess he’s made, and he shares his Rosh Hashanah treats with other tall tale characters. Bold paintings evoke the wide-open spaces of the western USA.

 

 

Gershon’s Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Jon J. Muth (Ages 4 – 12)

Suspenseful and deliciously spooky, this story brings misdeeds back to life as monsters in a morality tale that is anything but preachy. Expressive watercolors help to create the story’s atmosphere.

 

 

Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah by Rahel Musleah, illustrated by Judy Jarrett (Ages 5-12)

Indian-born author Musleah explains Sephardic traditions for the Jewish new year, including blessings, songs, and menu-related folk tales. This is not so much a book to read straight-through, as a guide to an activity that could be shared via video chat.

 

 

New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Wayland, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch (Ages 4-10)

This story of tashlich, the joyous ceremony of symbolically casting sins into the water, is told with a light, poetic touch that makes the concept of atonement both relatable and comforting. Playful watercolor and gouache illustrations accompany the story.

 

 

A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated byAmini (Ages 3-8)

Mistaken for twins, little boys Moses Feldman and Mohammed Hassan make friends while their mothers are shopping at Sahadi’s Market in Brooklyn. The families agree to meet at the park to share rugelach and date cookies as Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan approach. A simple and sweet story of interfaith friendship creatively illustrated with vibrant collage.

WHERE TO GET BOOKS

Buy print books from your favorite bookseller. IndieBound, Bookshop, or your local independent bookstore are great choices, or you can borrow from your local public or synagogue library.

Buy e-books from publishers, on Kindle or Kobo, or borrow from Epic, OpenLibrary, or your local public library

Heidi Rabinowitz is the Host of The Book of Life: A Podcast About Jewish Kidlit, Mostly, the Past President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, and the Library Director at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL. Listen to Heidi’s podcast interview with the Jewish Grandparents Network!

 

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