The Jewish High Holidays are upon us! Rosh Hashanah starts at Sundown on September 25.
If your New Years’s resolution is to have your kids’ bookshelves reflect the diversity of the Jewish world, we’re here to help you start the new year on the right foot, with a list of some excellent, sweet books that are not only diverse, but will help you celebrate the upcoming holidays — and hopefully become new yearly staples.
“Measure a Year” by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Zara González Hoang
This book not only offers great prompts for your kids on how to truly process and find the meaning of the Jewish New Year (and will have you humming “Seasons of Love” as you read along). Its illustrations also feature a diverse cast of Jewish kids celebrating the High Holidays, sleeping in the sukkah, braiding challah and, of course, celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Elovitz Marshal writes such haimish Jewish children’s books and this one is a new favorite.
For the curious kids who love maps, this special National Geographic book shows Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur being celebrated around the world, from Thailand to California to Zimbabwe. As someone who grew up obsessed with issues of National Geographic, it’s nice to see one that will expose your kids to the vibrancy of Jewish communities and traditions around the world.
“Rosh Hashanah with Uncle Max” by Varda Livney
Varda Livney’s whimsical (and adorable) Jewish children’s books are favorites in this house (we love “How to Get to Safta’s for Shabbat”). This one is about a wacky uncle who visits his nieces and nephews for Rosh Hashanah and brings his silly spirit to holiday traditions. It’s a great way to teach your littles some Hebrew words and holiday traditions while getting some giggles out of them, too.
Apples and Pomegranates: A Rosh Hashanah Seder by Rahel Musleah, illustrated by Judy Jarrett Gier
Want to host a Sephardic Rosh Hashanah seder? This book by Rahel Mushelah, a 7th generation Jew from Calcutta, will teach you all about that.
This picture book tells the story of the friendship between Moses Feldman and Mohammed Hassan, two mischievous young boys who live on opposite ends of Brooklyn’s Flatbush avenue — one Jewish, and one Muslim. We see their bond as each family prepares for Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan, and share a picnic of rugelach and date cookies in the park. It’s so important to expose your kids to other religions’ holidays traditions beyond your own, and this sweet book is all about celebrating peace and coexistence.
“The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda” by Shoshana Nambi, illustrated by Moran Yogev
I love the work of Israeli-Ethiopian illustrator Moran Yogev and am so glad it gets to adorn this special book about Uganda’s Abayudaya Jewish community. This book tells the story of Shoshi, who has a competitive spirit and who loves the holiday of Sukkot — and who enters the community’s annual sukkah contest for the very best sukkah. When one fellow family’s sukkah gets ruined, she and the rest of the community learn a valuable lesson. This book is a great way to teach your kids about the Abayudaya Jews, the beauty of Sukkot, and the value of teamwork and community.