Five family-friendly Haggadah options for your Passover seder

Kveller Haggadah

Elyse Picker, Special to the Jewish Light

Growing up, our family almost always hosted a Passover seder using the Maxwell House haggadah. I found it funny that a coffee company published a haggadah, but it wouldn’t have been a seder without its odd phrases woven throughout the story.

I always hoped it would be my turn to read when we got to “the hills like rams and mountains like lambs” part and crossed my fingers under the table to avoid a paragraph with “omnipresent” (omNIpresent? omNEEpresent? I’m still not sure). I read my part when it was my turn and in between, kept track of how many pages were left until the festive meal.

Fast forward to this time last year. With all of us facing our first Jewish holiday under coronavirus restrictions and so many unknowns, my family — like so many others — found ourselves hosting our first seder at home, just the five of us. I quickly realized that the only haggadah we owned was a lone copy of “Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah.” That wasn’t going to cut it (no offense, Sammy). Then I recalled having answered an email from PJ Library months before – long before COIVID-19 was even on the horizon – asking if I’d like free copies of the PJ Library family haggadah,

“In Every Generation.” Shortly before the first seder, six copies arrived in the mail – one for each of us (two adults, three young children) — plus a spare for when someone inevitably knocked over a glass of grape juice.

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Twelve months later, we are preparing for another Pesach beginning March 27, where many of us will still be celebrating at home with just our immediate families, or participating in a Zoom seder with extended family and/or some friends. The world of family-friendly haggadot (plural of haggadah) has grown tremendously, with options for just about any family.

After conducting an informal poll of St. Louis Jewish parents, I’ve reviewed several options listed below, along with where to purchase them. Take a read and see if one of these is right for your family.

Best for Families with Young Children: The Kveller Haggadah: A Seder for Curious Kids (and their Grownups)

This haggadah embraces the well-known fact that children ask a lot of questions. The illustrations will appeal to preschool age children and the text is approachable for elementary age children and up, (no “omnipresent” to be found here). Families can stick to the main text and work through the seder at a quicker speed or take the time to incorporate added sections and stories that are woven throughout. “The Kveller Haggadah” is available to download free on its website and hard copies can be purchased on Amazon.

Another option to consider: K’ilu Kit

An interactive seder experience, K’ilu Kit is geared toward families with children ages 3-8. It combines audio tracks, a story map, story props and a kid-lead haggadah, which you download and print from home after purchasing. Families who refrain from using electronics on Pesach can use this kit before the holiday for teaching purposes. Available for purchase at website.

Best for Families with Older Children: Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel (by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Ezra Zadok)

Geared toward older kids who enjoy graphic novels, but appealing to younger children as well, this haggadah is praised for its ability to keep kids engaged while still keeping with a traditional and accurate rendering of the Pesach story. Available on Amazon.

Best for Creative Families: Make Your Own Haggadot

If your family would like to create a personalized haggadah, this is the option for you. After signing into the website, you are guided through a series of steps from choosing a type (secular, liberal, traditional), designing a cover and the layout of each individual section. You can even invite others to collaborate with you in creating a custom haggadah just right for those participating in your seder whether in person or virtually.

Best for Harry Potter Fans: The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah (by Moshe Rosenberg)

When asking other parents for their favorite family haggadah, this one came up multiple times. The description claims that Harry Potter and Pesach actually have a lot in common, “from the concepts of slavery and freedom, to the focus on education, to the number four.” Alongside the traditional text you’d expect to find in a haggadah are short explanations relating each part of the seder to a concept in Harry Potter. My own kids are just getting into Harry Potter, so I’m bookmarking this one for next year. Available on Amazon.

Best for Families with Children with Special Needs: The Gateways Haggadah; A Seder for the Whole Family (by Rebecca Redner)

According to author, Redner, “The Gateways Haggadah” was created to make Passover more accessible to pre-readers or struggling readers, through the use of uses photographs and symbols. Since its publication, families have also found it to be perfect for preschoolers still learning how to read and interfaith families have discovered it to be a wonderful tool to help non-Jewish members of the family understand the prayers and traditions. So while this was created to be a Haggadah for children with disabilities, it can really help everybody to feel included at the Passover table. Available on Amazon

I hope this round up of family haggadot makes at least one decision this spring simpler. Happy Passover!

Elyse Picker is a teacher and former co-director at Kol Rinah Early Childhood Center. She’s lived in St. Louis for just over 10 years, where she and her husband are happy to be raising their three children, ages 4, 6 and 8.