Looking for a great Passover book for kids?

Barbara Raznick in the Brodsky library, where she has worked for the past 30 years. File photo: Lisa Mandel

JEWISH LIGHT STAFF

We asked a couple of local professionals in early Jewish education for a couple of top picks for children’s Passover books. Here are their recommendations:

Leslie Wolf, Director, of the Deutsch Early Childhood Center at Temple Israel and the community-wide Jewish Parents as Teachers (JPAT) program

One of my favorite Passover books is “The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah” by Leslie Kimmelman. This is the classic and beloved story of “The Little Red Hen,” however, the hen speaks Yiddish and attempts to convince her animal friends to help her prepare matzah for the Passover seder. Her friends all refuse to help her in planting, harvesting, threshing and baking of the matzah, although they all hope to be invited to the seder. In the end, the Little Red Hen overlooks her friends’ selfish behavior and invites everyone to the seder. In turn her friends all help her wash the dishes. This book is quite enjoyable for preschool-age children, as it introduces them to some of the customs and traditions of Passover.  I also love that it highlights friendship, emphasizes the need to work together and stresses the importance of inviting everyone to the Passover seder.

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I also love “Grover and Big Bird’s Passover Celebration” by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fisher.  Preschoolers love to hear the adventures of Grover and Big Bird as they hurry to get to the Passover seder. They encounter many delays that teach about many Passover traditions. I love the fascination on the kids’ faces as they ponder whether Grover and Big Bird will make it in time for the seder.  This book’s author, Ellen Fisher, actually came to our Deutsch Early Childhood Center and read the book to our students — the children could not believe that they got to hear the actual author read her book to them.

Barb Raznick, Director of the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library

Passover books for kids are second in number only to books for Hanukkah. There are so many good titles – ranging from those that have silly runaway matzah men and bubbly chicken soup or parrots reciting the four questions to beautifully illustrated books recounting the Passover story.  One of my new favorites is the recently published, “Stone Soup with Matzoh Balls: A Passover Tale in Chelm” by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Maryam Tabatabaei.  I am a great fan of Chelm stories and in this one, the familiar folktale about stone soup gets a magical Chelm twist.  The Passover message of “let all who are hungry come and eat” rings out in this delightful, humorous, well-illustrated tale.

A book based on a true story from the Civil War, “Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder” by Bryna J. Fireside and illustrated by Shawn Costello, is a wonderful choice for elementary readers looking for a chapter book. In the story, a group of 21 Jewish soldiers from the 23rd Ohio Regiment of the Union Army do their best with what they have to organize a seder.

Acknowledging Passover’s celebration of freedom, the author includes three freed African-American members of the regiment in the celebration. The author does a remarkable job of making the experience come alive for the reader through extensive research, nostalgia, some humor and wonderful illustrations.  I love historical fiction for young readers and this book is a great example of the genre.