I was recently given the pleasure of review two very wonderful Jewish childrens' books.
The Tattered Prayer Book is a gentle introduction to the Holocaust for children ages 6-10. Ruthie discovers a secret about her father, while looking through a box of mementos from the ‘old country.’ As her father tells his surprising story, Ruthie learns a piece of her father’s story, a slice of Jewish history and the circumstances under which the family fled Nazi Germany.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful and it really gives the child a very gentle yet clear view of the difficulty during those times. It is not written from a religious perspective, but I found it really beautiful how once the father starts telling his daughter about this Siddur that he rescued from a burnt Shul you can feel the love that he once had for his precious heritage. You can purchase this book here.
Shabbat in the Playroom is a really sweet little story about Shira who's family is not religious. She learns all about Shabbat at school and asks her parents if they can celebrate Shabbat at home, to which they respond that they are too busy.
Shira then decides to celebrate Shabbat with her dolls in her playroom and creates an entire Shabbat table using all her toys. When her parents see this, they realize how much this means to her and begin to celebrate Shabbat.
The only issue I had with this book was that she made Yalmukahs out of napkins for her dolls and she used one for herself. My kids didn't really notice it as it could look like a doily that some women use when lighting Shabbat candles, but I thought it would be important to mention that. You can purchase this book here.
Another thing I wanted to mention was something I started doing with my kids that is working out really well.
While I really don't believe in rewarding kids for doing things that they should be doing (learning, davening) I found that they are sometimes 'less enthusiastic' about davening so I wanted to do something that doesn't give immediate reward, but enough of an incentive that they get a little more excited to do it. Here's what I came up with:
During davening, I give out these raffle tickets to the kids who are looking inside their Siddur and singing nicely and clearly. Even my 4 year who doesn't know most of the tefilos likes to sit in and pretend he's saying the words now that he can get raffle tickets.
After we finish davening, everyone writes their names on their tickets and we have a raffle where a different kid picks the name out of Daddy's hat every day.
Each child has their own Raffle chart like the one below and each time they win a raffle, they stick their winning ticket onto their chart. Once they fill in all 10 boxes with winning raffle tickets, they get a prize. Although they know this may take a while, they really love the excitement of doing the raffle every morning.
This is more of a summer thing that I am sure will ultimately lose its momentum, but we will keep doing it as long as the kids are enjoying it! You can Click Here to download a Pdf of these charts to print out for yourself. I laminated both of them and the kids use dry erase markers to write their names on their tickets.
Hope you are ready for a fabulous summer~
Have a wonderful week,