The Jewish festival of Passover (or Pesach) falls in the spring and celebrates the Jewish people being freed from slavery in Egypt. Families spend lots of time preparing for it and getting their homes ready. One way we’ve been preparing is by reading books of course! Here are some of our favourites:
Is It Passover Yet by Chris Barash, illustrated by Alessandro Psacharopulo and published by Albert Whitman & Company.
Passover falls in the springtime and in this gorgeous book we follow two children as they spot the signs of spring appearing which also let them know that Passover is nearly here. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed and there are lots of items to spot in the family’s house that are specific to a Jewish household. Great for Jewish children to see their lives reflected in a book but also good as as starting point to open discussions about other faiths.
A beautiful book written in gentle rhyming text and paired with soft, pastel coloured illustrations. You can read our full review here as well as some play ideas for young children.
Company’s Coming by Joan Holub, illustrated by Renee Andriani and published by Puffin Books.
Written in rhyme, this is a sweet book about preparing for and taking part in the Passover seder. It’s told from the point of view of a young child and does a great job of featuring the main parts of the seder that children will enjoy.
There are flaps to lift on each page that reveal more information and funny illustrations, usually involving the family’s cat, much to my one-year-old’s delight. One double page spread shows the little boy looking at the Seder plate with a flap on each of the 6 foods, helping to explain the significance of them all.
A perfect introduction to the Seder for little ones and a great way to prepare before the night itself.
A Sweet Passover by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by David Slonim and published by Abrams Books.
Miriam loves loves loves the matzah that we eat at Passover, she eats it with every topping she can think of. But she eats so much of it that by the last day she has hit her limit and declares that she is never eating matzah again. Her Grandpa offers to make her some matzah brei, a dish of matzah fried with eggs. Miriam learns of the importance of eating matzah on Passover and of course she loves the matzah brei!
Beautifull illustrated with soft lines and cheerful characters that envelope us in the warmth of Miriam’s family. The occasional Yiddish word gives the story a sentimental feeling for anyone from an Ashkenazi Jewish family.
You can read our full review of this book here which also includes a recipe for making some delicious matzah brei.
The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Paul Meisel and published by Holiday House.
Spring is on its way and the Little Red Hen is preparing for Passover. Determined to do everything just right from planting the seeds to growing the wheat and baking the matzah in no more than 18 minutes (in order for it to be Kosher). Throughout all her hard work she asks her farmyard friends for help but they just laugh and watch her carry on working.
Once the Seder night arrives the Little Red Hen sits down with her three chicks (cue the cutest illustration ever of three fluffy yellow chicks sitting at a table with mini plates and one wearing a tiny kippah) when who should knock at the door but the other farmyard animals looking for somewhere to eat. The Little Red Hen almost turns them away but she remembers the words from the Passover Haggadah: “Let all who are hungry come and eat.”
A delightful story that teaches about the traditions of the festival as well as bringing their meaning to life. With a lovely amount of Yiddish words and a main character that embodies all those stereotypes of a Jewish matriarch that we know and love, this is a perfect book to share at Pesach.
Sammy Spider’s First Passover by Sylvia A. Rouss, illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn and published by Kar-Ben Publishing.
Meet Sammy Spider who lives with his mother in the Shapiro’s house. Sammy is intrigued as he sees the family start to clean their house from top to bottom in preparation for the festival of Passover. As he watches the celebrations unfold his mother explains the customs and traditions that he sees the family carrying out.
Whilst all the festivities are underway Sammy’s mother shows him how to weave his web in different shapes until he looks and sees he’s woven a Star of David. A brilliant book that explains the Passover traditions as well as helping to teach shapes. You can read our full review here.
We received the majority of these books from the wonderful PJ Library who provide free books about Judaism.