In case you didn’t know, there’s a minor Jewish holiday coming up on January 25th called Tu Bishvat, and it’s all about trees.
Oftentimes referred to as the “New Year for Trees” or the “Birthday of the Trees,” Tu Bishvat comes as the trees in Israel just start to blossom (we know, we know, there’s still snow on the ground in many places right now, including Israel, but an early springtime celebration never hurts).
Anyways, back to the trees: many families celebrate Tu Bishvat by planting trees and celebrating all that they have to offer. This month, PJ Library, an organization that sends out free Jewish books to families each month, offered up a true gem, just in time for Tu Bishvat: A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, illustrated by Marc Simont. Originally published in 1956 and winner of the Caldecott Medal, this charming picture book is a throwback to a simpler time, and a reminder to soak in the wonder of nature all around us.
Inside the book are simple lines like, “Trees are very nice. They fill up the sky,” and, “Trees make the woods. They make everything beautiful.” The pages are accompanied by elegant illustrations, making it easy for a reader of any age to see just how beautiful trees can be. The book also devotes a section to planting trees, a common Jewish tenet that is even more popular come Tu Bishvat time. If a tree seems a bit too big for your little ones to handle, planting your own parsley is another great idea (and it will be fully grown in time for your Passover seder!).
The funny thing about trees is that they ARE nice and they ARE everywhere but seldom do we give them much of a thought in our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s reading Udry’s book, going on a walk in your neighborhood to pick out a favorite tree, or planting your own, use Tu Bishvat as the perfect excuse to help your kids celebrate trees in all their leafy glory.
Want to get books like A Tree is Nice sent to your door every month, for free? Sign up for PJ Library. If you live in the New York metro area, you can sign up through Kveller by clicking here. Everyone else can find their local PJ community by clicking here.