Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is coming soon! To celebrate I’ve put together a list of books for children about this beautiful holiday. Enjoy!
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Children’s Books about Rosh Hashanah
Every year Katy looks forward to making a special batch of homemade applesauce with her mother for Rosh Hashanah. But when a new baby cousin arrives early and her mother must go help, the holiday is ruined! Or is it? Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story is a sweet story of friends and neighbors coming together to make a very special New Year for a little girl. Applesauce recipe included!
What a Way to Start a New Year!: A Rosh Hashanah Story has a similar theme. Dina is not sure how her family can have a happy new year in their new home, without any of their old friends. When they try to make a visit back to their old neighborhood for the holiday, one thing after another goes wrong and they miss the celebration. Yet a warm welcome into their new community makes it a wonderful start to the new year after all.
Daniel knows that Rosh Hashanah celebrates the beginning of Creation, so he decides to throw a birthday party for the world! But when he shares his idea, everyone tells him he can’t possibly invite the whole word over for a party. Luckily for the reader (and the world!) Daniel is not discouraged. The World’s Birthday: A Rosh Hashanah Story is a great book about determination and coming up with creative solutions!
Rabbi Benjamin is thrilled when his congregation gives him a special gift for Rosh Hashanah – a beautiful holiday vest with four silver buttons. But as the year passes and Rabbi Benjamin celebrates the holidays with the different families in the congregation – including eating plenty of delicious food! – one by one the buttons on his vest pop off. What will the congregation say when Rosh Hashanah comes again and the Rabbi’s holiday vest is ruined? Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons is a really cute book about the love between a Rabbi and his congregation. It is also a great way to teach children about the holidays of the Jewish year.
Beni is excited that his family is going to spend Rosh Hashanah with his grandparents – until he finds out that Cousin Max will be there, too! From the beginning of the visit, Max torments the other children, from hiding plastic spiders and worms under their pillows to taking the last date before they can have any. Beni is furious at Max, until Grandpa explains to the children the tradition of Tashlikh, and the boys learn to forgive and start the new year fresh. Happy New Year, Beni is a great way to introduce children to the traditions and true spirit of Rosh Hashanah.
Tashlich at Turtle Rock is a gentle book about one family’s Rosh Hashanah tradition of taking a hike into the woods together. This year it is Annie’s turn to lead the way to Turtle Rock, where they throw crumbs into the river as a symbol of the mistakes of the past year. The story also includes fun non-traditional ways that a family can reflect on the past year and plan for the next.
Part of a series on Jewish holidays, Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride is wonderful for little train lovers! Engineer Ari is so excited to be driving the train all the way to Jerusalem that he doesn’t realize his friends’ feelings are hurt. Through his trip he learns about the true spirit of Rosh Hashanah and comes up with a plan to help them feel better. Based on the true story of the opening of the railway from Jerusalem to Jaffa during the High Holidays in 1892.
I love love Even Higher!. A newcomer is skeptical when the villagers of Nemirov say their rabbi goes to heaven every year on Rosh Hashanah to plead for a good year for them. So as Rosh Hashanah approaches, the newcomer hides and follows the Rabbi to find out where he really disappears to. What he discovers, though, is a secret even more wonderful than the tale he had been told. Does the Rabbi go to heaven? No, even higher!
Sound the Shofar!: A Story for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is great for young children especially, with simple explanations of the High Holidays. In the book, we see one family enjoy the rituals and traditions of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, marked by the sounding of the shofar.
As a lover of history, I adore The Secret Shofar of Barcelona, which takes us back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition, when Jews had to hide their religion or face imprisonment or worse. Musician Don Fernando longs to hear the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, but in Barcelona in the late 1500s, this is not possible. Yet when he is commissioned to perform a concert celebrating the colonies in the New World, he and his son Rafael come up with a daring plan to usher in Rosh Hashanah with the shofar during the concert itself, with Spanish nobles in the audience! This is a wonderful story to help children appreciate being able to celebrate the High Holidays in peace, as well as to imagine themselves courageous enough to play the shofar at that long ago concert in Barcelona! Based on a legendary – though never verified – tale of a daring Spanish converso.
This post is part of the Jewish High Holidays for Kids series. Be sure to visit our main page for great resources!