By Laura Seymour
For many of us, being stuck inside with the ice storm was horrible. But for many more, it may have been wonderful. For me, there is nothing better to do than curl up on the sofa with a good book. For parents that also means including your child in this ritual. Children are never too old to be read to or at least read with — let your child read to you (then you can even close your eyes — but don’t snore!). Now here’s the Jewish part: the wonderful thing about Jewish children’s books is that our folktales (re-told with pictures) have many layers of meaning for all ages and all moments in time. One of my favorites is “The Secret Room” by Uri Shulevitz. It is filled with beautiful pictures, few words, lots of surprises and a message that each of us should read and remember! There are numerous biblical stories re-told and midrashim beautifully illustrated. Look for books by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso: “A Prayer for the Earth — the Story of Naamah,” “Naamah, Noah’s Wife,” “Cain & Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace,” “Adam & Eve’s First Sunset: God’s New Day” and many more. The list goes on — in fact, I have a collection of more than 600 Jewish children’s books, but I’m a bit crazy! These stories are an important part of our heritage and meant to be shared. Storytelling is an art form and our children love to hear the stories of our lives, so begin with the Torah — it is the story of our people. An important reminder that every good teacher knows: read the story first before you read it to your children (don’t be surprised by a challenging ending!). Books are ways of presenting challenging subjects to children. It is comforting to know that you are not alone with a problem, and if someone has written a whole book about it — well, you couldn’t be the only one!
Here are a few suggestions:
- “The Boy Who Stuck Out His Tongue” by Edith Tarbescu
- “Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand” by Arthur A. Levine
- “Snow in Jerusalem” by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu
- “The Apple Tree’s Discovery” by Peninnah Schram & Rachayl Eckstein Davis
- “Grandma Rose’s Magic” by Linda Elovitz Marshall
- “The Blessing Cup” by Patricia Polacco (her newest — read all the others)
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady
Laura Seymour is director of Camping and Youth Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.