It can be a challenge to find children’s books that captivate your little one without driving you crazy after reading it for the millionth time. For parents out there who are maybe too familiar with “Goodnight Moon” or who have the entire “Llama, Llama Red Pajama” collection constantly running through their heads, you know exactly what we’re talking about (and don’t even get us started on children’s music!)
For this reason, our number one criteria for choosing children’s books is to make sure that the book leave our sanity intact if read over and over and over again. These picks have the added benefit of all being Jewish-focused stories that encourage interest in Jewish holidays, culture and heritage.
“Joseph Had a Little Overcoat” by Simms Taback
This beautifully illustrated, Caldecott winning book is the story of a young man, Joseph, who begins his journey by creating a coat. The coat gets old and worn so he makes it into a vest. The vest gets old and worn, so he makes it into a tie…and the story continues. Each page is filled with imagery that helps parents talk about what’s on the page (animals, clothing and colors) giving you have endless opportunities to retell the story in different ways and tailor it for your children’s age.
“Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale” by Eric Kimmel
In this fun Hanukkah story, a Russian immigrant, Simon, becomes stranded by a shipwreck and left on an iceberg with a lady polar bear. We can stop right there for kids who love anything having to do with animals, but what we love most about this book is that this all happens over Hanukkah, and as the two celebrate the holiday together, it’s a great chance for kids to learn about both the holiday and unique traditions.
“Shabbat is Coming!” by Tracy Newman
This board book introduces Shabbat to young ones with fun rhymes and captivating illustrations, which will grow with your child all the way through toddlerhood. It tells the story of how one family prepares for Shabbat. As your child gets a little older, you can use the book as a guide for how you can prepare for your own Shabbat together. Anything that is both a book and an activity is a winner for us.
“Alef is for Abba” by Rebecca Kafka
This flip book is two stories packed into a single book – the first part focuses on the mother while the second part focuses on the father. The book is English and Hebrew and each page introduces a Hebrew word or phrase, accompanied by an illustration, to help kids more easily comprehend the new word. With colorful illustrations, this is perfect book to get your children familiar with the Hebrew alphabet.
“My Face Book” by Star Bright Books
Babies and toddlers love looking at other babies (who wouldn’t love staring at those adorable faces!) In this board book, each baby expresses an emotion, from laughing to crying, with both the English and Hebrew word, so you can use it as a tool to introduce Hebrew to your children. We love how with this simple book you can make up a different story about why each baby is expressing a certain emotion (e.g., this baby is happy because she just played at the park with her friend) to help guide your child in identifying emotions in themselves and others.
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