Purim is one of our favourite Jewish festivals, here’s why:
- You get to wear fancy dress.
- People give you lots of sweet treats.
- You are TOLD to make as much noise as you can!
(An additional reason about why this festival is great for grown ups too is that you are pretty much commanded to enjoy yourself by having a few drinks.)
We’ve been reading lots of books about Purim in preparation for the festival so here’s a roundup of our favourites along with some Purim activities we’ve been doing too.
The Purim Superhero by Elisabeth Kushner, illustrated by Mike Byrne and published by Kar-Ben Publishing.
Nate wants to dress up as an alien for Purim, but all the boys at school are being superheroes. Torn between wanting to fit in and be himself, Nate comes up with a brilliant way to do both. Bright and colourful illustrations accompany this story and we love to look at all the costumes that the children are wearing to the Purim party.
This is a wonderful book which skilfully handles the subtle pressures we all feel to fit in with society. From a diverse book point of view it is great to see a picture book story containing a powerful message for young children embedded in a book about a Jewish festival. On top of this, the Jewish community in the book is a progressive one with a female rabbi and the main character, Nate, is the son of same-sex parents. The story in this book was actually inspired by an event run by Keshet, an organisation who support the inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life.
You can read our full review of this book here which also contains a description of how to make delicious hamantaschen, the perfect Purim treat.
It’s Party Time! A Purim Story by Jonny Zucker illustrated by Jan Barger Cohen and published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
This story shows a family carrying out all the traditions of Purim in a beautiful picture book. Each double page shows a different way to celebrate the festival; giving to charity (tzedakah), making gift bags for family and friends (mishloach manot), listening to the story of Purim and of course dressing up and enjoying parties.
Full page illustrations in soft colours bring the festival to life and there are plenty of recognisable Purim things to spot such as hamantaschen and groggers. At the end of the book there is a page that explains the story of Purim and the traditions associated with it, a great tool if using the book to teach about the festival which makes it accessible to both Jewish and non Jewish children.
The Purim Chicken by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Puy Pinillos and published by Albert Whitman & Company.
In this tale a theatrical group of farm animals who are excited about Purim decide to put on a play to tell the story. Little Cluck the chicken would love to play Queen Esther, the star of the show, but she’s pushed aside by the confident and dependable Quack who always plays Esther. Cluck is given a role in the audience instead and spends her time practicing her loudest clucks to drown out Haman’s name. However, disaster strikes the day before the show as Quack has disappeared. Cluck, acting as brave as Queen Esther, heads out to find her and manages to rescue her from the clutches of a hungry fox.
Busy and lively illustrations accompany this lighthearted story which reads like a fun tongue twister with Cluck the chicken clucking, Moo the cow mooing and Bleat the goat bleating.
One, Two, Three, Purim! by Naomi Shulman, illustrated by Nora Hilb and published by PJ Publishing.
A beautiful board book for young children that shows all the exciting things we do on Purim. The theme of counting runs through the book with each page ending with: “one, two, three!” Repetition like this is always great for engaging little ones. Sounds and actions are repeated three times and there are objects to count in threes which adds an extra fun element when reading aloud as well as further supporting counting. My one-year-old enjoys copying the actions, especially the noisy ones where we shake a grogger.
You can read our full review of this book here as well as our instructions on how to make a grogger (a noisy instrument) for Purim.
I can’t finish this post without linking to PJ Library who provided us with some of these gorgeous books. This wonderful organisation sends books about Judaism to children absolutely free.
Happy Purim, Chag Purim Sameach!