Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Our Jewish community in the Bay Area is tremendously diverse in heritage, race and nationality. This selection of books portrays a wide range of families coming together to celebrate a holiday, solve a problem or share a meal. No matter your religious beliefs, you will find some of your traditions and values reflected in these stories.
Chik Chak Shabbat, by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker (Candlewick; $15.99; ages 3–7; 32 pp.). Goldie cooks a delicious Shabbat dinner every week, and her Asian, Italian, Indian and Latino neighbors join her. When she’s too sick to cook dinner one week, her neighbors save the day bringing food from their own cultures. A delightful celebration with food, neighbors and friends.
Here Is the World, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal (Abrams; $18.95; ages 4–7; 48 pp.). Take a stroll through a year of Jewish holidays with this book, which combines simple rhymes with detailed pictures. A family introduces their new baby to each of the holiday traditions and tells her that the world is “spinning with joy at the wonder of you.”
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup, by Pamela Mayer, illustrated by Deborah Melmon (Kar-Ben; $7.99; ages 5–8; 32 pp.). Like many kids, Sophie is a mix of two cultures. Her bubbe makes Jewish chicken soup with kreplach, and her nai nai makes Chinese chicken soup with wontons. She brings her grandmas together, and they discover that their soups are not really so different—and that love is the most important ingredient in both dishes.
Hannah’s Way, by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Adam Gustavson (Kar-Ben; $7.95; ages 6–9; 32 pp.). Hannah is new to her school, and she’s worried that she won’t get to go to the class picnic. Because she is an Orthodox Jew, she is not allowed to ride in the car on the Sabbath. Hannah is surprised when her entire class offers to walk there with her instead, and she finally starts to feel included in her new town.
Hanukkah Hop, by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Steven D’Amico (Simon & Schuster; $12.99; ages 3–8; 32 pp.). Get ready to boogie with Rachel and her family at their Hanukkah hop party. The klezmer band arrives and everyone dances until they drop. The balloons pop, the lamps tip over and the guests are so tired that they have to spend the night. Kids will love the lively rhymes and celebratory pictures.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel, by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by David Slonim (Arthur A. Levine; $17.99; ages 4–8; 32 pp.). This lively book is based on the “I Know an Old Lady” song. In this version, the old lady swallows a dreidel, oil, latkes, a menorah and more, and each time her family worries that “perhaps it’s fatal.” Each page is illustrated in the style of a different famous artwork, including Starry Night, The Scream, and American Gothic.
Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates (Candlewick; $16.99; ages 5–8; 40 pp.). Who’s ever heard of a cat writing music? Well, Moshe’s cat Ketzel pranced across the keys, composed an award-winning 21-second piece of music and pulled Moshe out of his own composing slump. This beautiful picture book is based on a true story.
Potatoes at Turtle Rock, by Susan Schnur and Anna Schnur-Fishman, illustrated by Alex Steele-Morgan (Kar-Ben; $17.99; ages 5–8; 32 pp.). On a cold Hanukkah night, Annie leads her family around in the woods near their home as they use potatoes to stay warm and then to make a menorah, celebrating their own special tradition. At their last stop, they turn the potatoes into a delicious treat, make snow dreidels and say a holiday prayer.
Shanghai Sukkah, by Heidi Hyde, illustrated by Jing Tsong (Kar-Ben; $17.99; ages 5–9; 32 pp.). Can Sukkot be the same in Marcus’ new city? His family has moved to Shanghai to escape the Holocaust, and he lives in a crowded building with many other families. Marcus celebrates the Moon Festival with his new friend Liang, and then gets a big surprise on Sukkot. This book shows a positive side to a difficult time in Jewish history.
Hanukkah Bear, by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Holiday House; $16.95; ages 4–7; 32 pp.). The latke smells coming from Bubba Brayna’s house are so enticing that a bear knocks on the door. Bubba Brayna can’t hear or see very well, and so she thinks the bear is the rabbi. When everybody arrives for Hanukkah dinner, the children discover that instead of feeding the rabbi, Bubba gave all the latkes to a bear instead!
Allyson Bogie is the librarian at Korematsu Middle School in El Cerrito, CA, and loves visiting her local public library with her two young children. Allyson and her family are Jewish, and these books are approved by her Hanukkah-loving 5-year-old.
Mary Ann Scheuer is the librarian at Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley. Find more books Mary Ann recommends sharing with children at her blog, Great Kid Books: greatkidbooks.blogspot.com.