Yom Kippur Books

Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride

Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride

Time for another Jewish holiday. This time, let’s catch all the good Yom Kippur books in one nice post and be done with it. My stomach grumbles when I spend too much time thinking about fasting.

First, a quick shout-out to Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride by Deborah Bodin Cohen, mentioned earlier. Yes, it’s a Rosh Hashanah book, but with a powerful Yom Kippur message of changing our behaviors.
The Hardest Word

The Hardest Word

Probably the best book though is The Hardest Word by Jacqueline Jules. I need to admit that I personally don’t love this book. Usually, I try hard not to recommend children’s books that adults won’t like — but in this case, this is a huge crowd pleaser for the younger crowd and actually effectively teaches how difficult, and important it is, to say you are sorry.  I won’t describe the story because I doubt you’d look at it if I did but really, it is actually quite a good discussion starter. The illustrations may feel very old fashioned, as does the text type (see me being picky), but the message is good and kids seem to really relate to it. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how much you are willing to put up with for your children, if your children like the Ziz character, there are a few more books featuring the mythical giant bird for them to enjoy and for you to cringe at. Check out Noah and the Ziz, The Princess and the Ziz, and The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle.

Gershon's Monster

Gershon's Monster

Finally, for many, Gershon’s Monster by Eric Kimmel is the best Rosh Hashanah book around. And while I agree that it is beautiful (really, really beautiful), and a gripping story, it’s also scary (really, really scary). I’m including it here, instead of at Rosh Hashanah time, because Gershon’s Monster is the story of a man who never wants to own up to his poor behavior. Instead, he literally sweeps them away and dumps them in the sea. Well, nothing good is going to come out of that. As the wise man warns at the beginning of the book:

“Did you think you could live so thoughtlessly forever? The sea cries out because you have polluted her waters! God is angry with you. Accept God’s judgement. Your recklessness will bring your children more sorrow than you can imagine.”

But Gershon doesn’t change his ways and that’s when things get scary — monster scary and children’s in harm’s way scary. However, I will say this: remarkably, most children LOVE this book and don’t find it scary at all. It’s only adults who cringe when the wise man’s words come true. This is not a great book for children who tend to get scared easily, or grown-ups for that matter.

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1 Comment »

  1. These are excellent suggestions, but isn’t it sad that you CAN round up pretty much all the good Yom Kippur books in one post? That’s why I’m a strong advocate of using secular books to convey Jewish values. In fact, with preschoolers I find that secular books can work BETTER, because the kids aren’t distracted by abstract symbols like shofars. In my library storytime this week, I read No, David by David Shannon, Be Gentle by Virginia Miller, Words Are Not For Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick, and Lizzy’s Do’s Don’ts by Jessica Harper, and I think these books did an excellent job of demonstrating teshuva for young kids.

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