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Sep 23 2013

One Day I’ll Miss the Chaos (But Not Today)

By at 2:14 pm

little bunny foo fooMy 4-year-old is absolutely obsessed with books. Mainly books about trucks–especially fire trucks. He wants me to read to him all day long. He also loves Little Bunny Foo Foo.

“Mom, can you just read it four more times before bed? Pullleeeaassse?

It does this mama’s heart proud to see her kids enjoy a book. Even if it is Little Bunny Foo Foo.

My eldest son also loves a good book, but now at 13 years old, the days where he crawls up into my lap and asks for me to read to him are long gone. I no longer pull his head close to me and breath his boyish smell of sweat and dirt and play dough. He doesn’t need my help brushing his teeth, getting dressed, or lacing up his shoes. He hates most of the clothes I pick out for him (even though I’m certain I have better taste than he does). He shrugs and feigns pulling away if I try to give him a hug, even though he has a smile on his face. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 22 2013

The Best Kids Books for Rosh Hashanah

By at 5:01 pm

engineer ari and the rosh hashanah rideIn her beautiful post about her sons’ Jewish identities, Tamara mentioned getting her first Rosh Hashanah book from PJ Library, and then pulling several more off the shelf.

That’s right, folks. It’s time to start thinking about the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah starts on SEPTEMBER 4th. Once you’re done freaking out, you might want to think about getting some books of your own to read with the kiddos. Here are some of my favorites, courtesy of PJ Library and my local library:

1. Classic Symbols & Themes

If you’re looking for books specifically about the symbols and themes of Rosh Hashanah, you might want to check out Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride by Deborah Bodin Cohen or Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by Cathy Goldberg Fishman. The first book is a fun story about a conductor taking his train on its first trip across Israel during Rosh Hashanah, and the second one explores the traditions of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur through the eyes of a young girl. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 11 2013

Bubbe’s Top 10 Books for Jewish Kids

By at 5:03 pm

the tale of meshka the kvetchThere has been a lot on Kveller about books for Jewish children but I have not seen any mention of my own favorites. So, after decades of reading to my children and grandchildren, here are my own top 10 picks for you to share with the children you love (between the ages of 3-8, all available on Amazon):

1. Yussel’s Prayer retold by Barbara Cohen: The story of a young cowherd and his simple Yom Kippur prayer. When my children were small, we read this every year on Yom Kippur night.

2. The Magician by Uri Shulevitz: Elijah the Prophet works his magic for an impoverished couple on Passover.

3. The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch by Carol Chapman: Need a laugh with a life lesson? This might be just the book for adults, too. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 27 2013

Ten Great Books to Read This Summer

By at 3:36 pm

Welcome to the Second Annual Jordana Horn Summer Reading List, in which I recommend books for your summer reading pleasure. Some are new releases; some you may have missed because you were “working” or “taking care of children” or some other time-consuming endeavor. If you do get a few peaceful moments this summer, though, any one of these reads would be worth your while. My list last year was deemed “too intellectual,” so I’ve thrown in a few suggestions of lighter fare as well. Please feel free to add recommendations in the comments as I am always reading and always excited to find new books!

karen joy fowler we are all completely beside ourselves1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler

I read a review before reading this book. While I wouldn’t say the review “ruined” the book for me, it was definitely a spoiler. This book hinges on one key fact which I would think would work better as a surprise, so I will leave you in suspense. Suffice it to say that this book rocked my world: my perception of family interactions, and what a fiction book can accomplish were changed by it. I am so glad I read it, and think you will be, too.

2. Schroder, by Amity Gaige

Beautifully written story of what happens when an East German-born man who has appropriated a new American, Kennedy-esque identity decides to make a post-separation run for the Canadian border with his young daughter. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 15 2013

PJ Library Corner: Interview with Laurel Snyder, Author of The Longest Night

By at 9:39 am

the longest night laurel snyderOne of the most unique Passover children’s books we’ve seen yet is the new picture book from Laurel Snyder, The Longest Night. Like many books of the sort, it retells the story of Exodus, but it’s told from the perspective of a young Jewish girl. And where other kids books may skip or doll up some of the more violent/sad parts of the Passover story, Snyder stays pretty true to the script. It makes for a compelling read, and we were lucky enough to sit down with Laurel and ask her a few questions.

**The Longest Night is a PJ Library book, as well as Snyder’s previous children’s book, Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be KosherTo get great Jewish books like these for free every month, sign up for PJ Library. If you’re in the New York metro area, sign up through Kveller here. If you live elsewhere, check out this map to find your local PJ community.**

It seems like the plagues get a lot of attention when it comes to celebrating Passover with kids, but they’re usually cutesied upplague finger puppets, plague masks, plague bowling set, etc. The plagues in your book are decidedly not cute (no offense). Why did you choose to present a more realistic view of the plagues, and do those cutesy products mentioned above bother you?

Honestly, there’s something fascinating about taking the gruesome and making it playful. I’m not offended at all. But we should ask what we’re trying to accomplish when we do that. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 21 2013

My Son’s Purim Costume is Miss Viola Swamp

By at 1:41 pm

miss nelson is missingPurim was never my favorite holiday for many of the same reasons that I never liked Halloween. I was embarrassed to dress up. I worried that other kids would laugh at me. I never liked my home-made costumes. And having to do this twice a year instead of just on Halloween made it all the more painful. My husband felt exactly the same way growing up in Israel, though he was spared the extra torture of Halloween. 

And I can tell that my kids share some of that Purim apprehension. Especially now that we’re living in Israel and it’s not just one evening when you put on your costume and go to shul. It’s a week of Black & White Day and Face Paint Day and Wear an Accessory Day (I’m sorry, huh?) and Polka Dot Day and Pajama Day. And finally, Wear Your Costume to School Day. That’s right. Six days of chaotic mornings deciding whether or not to participate in the Purim revelry du jour. It’s too much for this mama. Although at this point my oldest, who is 8, knows his tolerance for teasing and what he’s willing to endure in the name of self expression. He learned that lesson two Purims ago while we were still living in the States.   Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2013

Let’s Get Real About Jewish LGBT Families

By at 11:45 am

the purim superhero

Yesterday, we announced the launch of The Purim Superhero, the first LGBT-inclusive Jewish children’s book in English. Today, one mother reflects on initial reactions to the book.

The other day, Kveller’s partner site MyJewishLearning.com posted on their Facebook page about a new children’s book coming out that focuses on Purim. According to the write-up, Elisabeth Kushner’s The Purim Superhero is “the sweet story of a boy named Nate who has a Purim dilemma: he loves aliens and really wants to wear an alien costume for Purim, but his friends are all dressing as superheroes, and he wants to fit in. With the help of his two dads, he makes a surprising decision.” Read the rest of this entry →

Fairytales for the Next Generation: Beauty Isn’t Everything

By at 9:40 am

I am a storyteller, so my children were first exposed to fairytales through my own storytelling rather than reading them in books.

My son really loved “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” amended slightly to teach the lesson about not walking into strangers’ houses, and “Little Red Riding Hood,” which I was nervous about telling due to the carnivorous wolf but which my son found hilarious. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 16 2013

We Proudly Present: The Purim Superhero

By at 9:50 am

the purim superhero

As you may have guessed, we’re huge fans of Jewish children’s books, which is why we were very excited to co-sponsor the launch of The Purim Superhero, the first LGBT-inclusive Jewish children’s book in English!

This book, written by Elisabeth Kushner and illustrated by Mike Byrne, was the winner of Keshet’s National Book-Writing Contest, and we couldn’t be happier to finally see it released from Kar-Ben Publishing.

So what’s it all about? Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 14 2013

PJ Library Corner: A Tree is Nice, Indeed

By at 5:03 pm

a tree is nice children's picture book

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. Read the rest of this entry →

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