I am rerunning a previous post with a few additions.
The Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated with a ceremonial dinner called a Seder. At the heart of the Seder is the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt. Jews are commanded to retell the story:
You should tell your children that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’
This passing on of our history and heritage to the children in our lives is important and valuable, and grandparents can play a vital role in this conversation. In this vein, I want to offer you some suggestions of children’s books about Passover. I found a vast array of books about this holiday—most of which were educational and entertaining—so this is just a small selection.
Max Makes a Cake by Michelle Edwards and Charles Santoso (ages 3 – 6 years) Warmly-tinted illustrations complement this sweet story about a little boy who is just starting to become independent. Jewish traditions are integrated seamlessly into the story.
What Am I? Passover by Anne Margaret Lewis and Tom Mills (ages 2 – 5 years)
Part of the engaging series, My look and See Holiday Books, this book asks questions and reveals the answers in words and pictures under a lift-the-flap feature.
Company’s Coming: A Passover Lift-the Flap Book by Joan Holub (ages 3 – 5 years)
This cute book for young readers tells a story about a family readying their house for Passover and incorporates the holiday’s significant traditions. A recipe for haroset is included.
This is the Matzah by Abby Levine and Paige Billin-Frye (ages 3 – 8 years)
Also part of a holiday series, this book follows Max and his family as they prepare for Passover beginning with shopping for the appropriate foods through setting the table and all the rituals involved with the Seder. The story is told in verse and brought to life with charming illustrations.
A Tale of Two Seders by Mindy Avra Portnoy (ages 4 – 8 years)
In this story, the author, who is a rabbi, tackles the topic of a child celebrating holidays in different households following a divorce and does so in an age-appropriate, realistic, and ultimately, reassuring way. Four different recipes for haroset are included.
A Sweet Passover by Leslea Newman and David Slonim (ages 4 – 8 years)
I particularly enjoyed this humorous story of a little girl who grows tired of matzah by the end of the week and refuses to eat another bite of it, until her grandpa cooks up his special matzah brei (fried matzah) for the entire family. Appended information includes a recipe for matzah brie, a short explanation of the holiday and a glossary of terms.
Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Passover with Matzah, Maror, and Memories by Deborah Heiligman (ages 4 – 9)
This visually appealing book is one of National Geographic’s Holidays Around the World titles and transports the reader to other countries to see how Jews elsewhere observe Passover. The American family is depicted preparing their home for the holiday in the Orthodox way, which might be different than yours. The Four Questions and instructions for setting the Seder table are included in the back matter.
The Passover Zoo Seder by S. Daniel Guttman and Phillip Ratner (ages 5 – 8 years)
Told in humorous verse and complemented by fanciful illustrations, this joyful story of animals putting on a Seder is fun to read aloud. The book includes explanations, suggestions and a couple word games.
Let My People Go by Tilda Balsley and Ilene Richard (ages 3 – 10 years)
One of my fondest memories of observing Passover was the year our children and our friends’ children acted out the biblical story for us (a very appreciative audience). I chose this book, the story of the Exodus told in rhyme, because it is formatted to be used for a reader’s theatre script (interactive reading) and reminded me of that long-ago Seder.
This year, I also discovered Ellen Zimmerman’s website, Jewish Holidays in a Box, which offers many creative resources, including games, kits and downloads (and some freebies!). Passover Seder Steps Follow-Along is a colorful teaching tool designed to keep everyone engaged throughout the Seder (not always an easy task). The Follow-Along includes images for each of the major 15 steps, along with some extras, and can be purchased as a board game or a digital download. You can also find the guide Celebrate Passover: How to Plan a Fun, Simple Seder.
When I was growing up, we used the Maxwell House Haggadahs at our Seder table. These Hagaddahs were available for free at supermarkets, and I have to admit to a certain nostalgic fondness when I see them today. However, if you are looking for not your grandmother’s Haggadah, there is much to choose from to fit the intended spirit and length of your Seder. I would just like to pay tribute to the one that we’ve been using for years, The Really! Fun Family Haggadah, written by Larry Stein and illustrated by Leah Sosewitz. We find it entertaining, flexible and educational.
Wishing my readers who celebrate Passover a warm and happy holiday. Don’t forget to decorate your table with frogs!