So many books. So little time.
That was the thought that went through my head as I sat down to read through a very large stack of this year’s kids’ books, graciously sent to me by their publishers. With so many excellent choices, there’s no time like the present to instill a love of reading in your children and with wonderful books like these, you might just find yourself borrowing a few of them to enjoy on your own.
Match ‘Em Up 2 – Raizy Czitter (Judaica Press): Possibly the cutest board book ever, these half size pages let kids flex their silly muscles as they pair items with their associated mitzvos. While finding the right matches is fun, coming up with the wrong ones can be extremely entertaining, too.
My First Shapes Through a Jewish Lens – Hashem’s Gems (Judaica Press): Another fun board book with split pages, kids will love matching the shape at the top of the page with its meaning and usage.
The Thank Yous Never End! – Alana Schreiber (Judaica Press): Tiny tykes are remarkably self-centered, and this colorful board book gives them the ability to look beyond themselves and to be grateful for things both large and small.
Yarmulkes For Sale – Esther Heller (Menucha): While this story may initially lull readers (and their parents) into thinking that they are reading a Jewish version of the iconic Caps for Sale, it heads in a different direction. Delightful and endearing, Yarmulkes For Sale is every bit as enjoyable as the original book, with a decidedly Jewish twist that will leave everyone smiling.
Uncle Moishy – The Very Best Chanukah Guest – Libby Lazewnik and Perry Binet (ArtScroll): Earning his rightful status as favorite uncle with yet another generation of kids, Uncle Moishy is back again in a fun-filled Chanukah saga that teaches valuable lessons during a time of year whose excitement can sometimes leave kids a little off balance. The bonus Uncle Moishy tzedakah pouch and a CD is sure to be a hit as well.
A Dream Come True – Genendel Krohn (Feldheim): Convincing children not to waste food can be a hard sell, but this story of a boy who grew up to become a world-renowned rav brings the point home without being preachy, while also illustrating the importance of making brachos.
I Can Help – Rikki Benenfeld (Hachai – Laminated pages): Little kids can be huge helpers and this book encourages them to aim high. Who knows, you might just see your crew running to make their beds, put away their toys and carry in the groceries after reading this book!
Eight Bright Nights – Hindy Spitz (Hachai – Laminated pages): Awesome rhymes and lots of interesting facts on the many aspects of Chanukah make this one a solid choice. A full glossary explains terminology that could be unfamiliar to some, a plus for those without a yeshiva background.
Stop on Red! Anger Ahead! – Ahuva Raanan (Feldheim): Little kids can have big emotions and this great book in the My Toolbox series teaches them how to stop anger in its tracks and manage their emotions in a positive way.
Don’t Make Fun of Anyone! – Judy Mesch (Feldheim): Kids aren’t always great at embracing differences, but the fabulous verbiage offers a fresh appreciation for individuality as well as an upbeat lesson on treating everyone with respect.
Dovi and his Cheer-Up Visitors – Malky Weinstock (Judaica Press): Children learn about bikur cholim in school, but this latest book/CD in the LiteBoy series illustrates how much those visits and calls mean to someone who is sick, inspiring them to rise to the challenge next time the occasion arises.
Rafi Rooster – Dishy Schiffman (Menucha Classroom Solutions): What do you do when you love to sleep late, but it is your roosterly job to make sure that everyone on the farm wakes up on time? Rafi Rooster learns about responsibility in a sweet read for early readers.
Faigy & Feivel – The Flying Popcorn Tip-Off – Leah Milstein (Menucha Publishers): Join Faigy and Feivel as they compete in a scavenger hunt, with some wacky science experiments thrown in on the side to really shake things up in a book that will resonate with second and third graders.
Toras Avigdor Junior on the Weekly Parsha – Rabbi Pinchas Wolhendler (Judaica Press): Following in the footsteps of Rav Avigdol Miller, this wonderful book is a year-round asset to your Shabbos table, with short contemporary stories bringing the parsha to life for kids of all ages in a relatable way.
Proud to be a Princess – Genendel Krohn (Feldheim): All too often girls see tznius as a list of don’ts, but these short stories take the opposite approach, painting refinement and modesty in a regal light. The stories are short enough for younger readers, but the depth of the lessons here that will resonate deeply with older girls.
Let’s Get Bentshing – Tamar Ansh (Artscroll – Laminated Pages): This book will transform not just your kids’ bentshing, but yours as well, as it casts the spotlight on the incredible brachos that are just there for the taking every time you say Birkas Hamazon. Truly a game changer for adults and kids alike.
A Lesson A Night – Tzai R. Pensky (Judaica Press): Whether kids read these super-short stories about gedolim on their own or you enjoy them together as part of bedtime, they offer important messages and can prompt meaningful discussions, inspiring children to go the extra mile in their day to day lives.
Living Emunah for Children 3 – Rabbi Dovid Ashear (ArtScroll): A heartwarming collection of stories that reminds kids (and adults) that Hashem truly loves them. Great for solo reading or for read-aloud bedtime stories.
The Big Book of Jewish Bedtime Story Books – Shmuel Blitz (ArtScroll): All four of Shmuel Blitz’s classic bedtime story books are rolled up into one fantastic book that is filled with inspiration, humor and positivity.
The Tannaim Series – Meir Lamberski (Feldheim): Sold individually or as a set of 13, these engaging comic books for younger readers share the life stories of well-known tannaim including Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Your kids will love them – and so will you!
The Lost Island – Y Bromberg (Menucha): Adventures at sea, pirates, treasures and bizarre birds will have kids enthralled as they read about a Jewish boy who gets separated from his family. A less intense and complicated plot makes this a good choice for less advanced readers.
Escape 3 – Avraham Ohayon (Feldheim): From concentration camps to a Japanese prison to Russia, the partisans return once again, this time rescuing a Jewish child in Japan. Mystery, intrigue, faith and determination come together once again in this series, with plenty of twists and turns until the very end.
Shiraz Part One – Avraham Ohayon (Feldheim): Based on the true story of a family’s escape from Ayatollah Kohomeini’s Iran, this illustrated novel opens kids’ eyes up to a fascinating chapter of history that may be unfamiliar to them. Take it as a given that your kids will want to read Shiraz 2 when it comes out.
The British Escape – Leah Sokol (): Kids have been enthralled by choose-your-own-adventure books for years and The British Escape is a fascinating read, set in World War II England. Kids will be hooked as they watch history unfold through the eyes of a ten year old German refugee who is tasked with keeping her five year old sister safe. Warning: the subject matter might be too intense for younger kids.
Home Sweet Home – Chani Altein (Feldheim): Girls will relate the ups and downs here, as four best friends find their lives turned upside down by COVID, discovering along the way that positivity and resourcefulness can make the toughest times more manageable.
Danger at Ramoni Manor – Y. M. Hodgbi (Menucha): I couldn’t put the first Ramoni Manor book down when it came out and its sequel is equally mesmerizing. Back again with his buddies at Alaska’s Yeshiva Kesser Dan, Eli Mink finds himself digging into a feud between his father and one of his teachers, while coping with a mysterious map, an elusive treasure and a missing person.
The Story Box – M. Jakubowicz (Judaica Press): This is one of the best collections of Jewish short stories for kids that I have ever read. Without exception, the stories are well written and easy to read, with age-appropriate messages that teach meaningful lessons.
No 186 – Meir Stern (Feldheim): A gripping page turner, this thriller has it all – intrigue, espionage and the undeniable pull of Yiddishkeit. Danger lurks around the corner as a group of young men train for an elite Israeli service squad while trying to identify an enemy spy within their group.
The Jewish Kids Journal – Between Carpools (ArtScroll): The Between Carpools lifestyle blog introduced a hardcover version of this book last year, posing intriguing questions large and small for kids to answer in writing, with extra space to jot down revised answers a full year later. The questions ran the gamut, on topics that ranged from serious to silly and I am glad to see it brought back again this year in a full color paperback at a (yes!!!) lower price point.
Bubby Karp Senior Detective 2 – Miriam Walfish (Judaica Press) – At just over 200 pages the adventures of Bubby Karp and her grandkids really hits the sweet spot, making it a fun read for readers of all ages. Each chapter is a mini-mystery of its own, making it approachable for even younger readers, while still being sophisticated enough for older readers to enjoy as well.
Kidz Like U 4 – Miriam Schonzeit (Judaica Press): As adults, we can try to teach kids lessons from today till tomorrow, but nothing resonates for them more than learning from their peers. These 21 stories will strike a chord with kids, entertaining them and maybe even teaching them a lesson or two.
Excitement in Halacha 3 Astonishing Creatures – Simcha Zisel Nakdimen (Ayal Press): Designed to get kids and adults thinking as they join the Berger family in pondering unusual circumstances including the halachic ramifications of Siamese twins with leprosy and how the law of techum Shabbos relate to a pet gorilla. An informative read that is anything but typical for those with a love of the interesting and the unusual.