Celebrating Rosh Hashanah

The Jew­ish High Hol­i­days begin with the fes­tiv­i­ties of the New Year on Rosh Hashanah and end ten days lat­er with the obser­vance of the Day of Atone­ment, Yom Kip­pur. It’s a time of reflec­tion and a renew­al of inten­tions to do bet­ter in the com­ing year. Here are a num­ber of books that will help chil­dren under­stand the tra­di­tions of the hol­i­day and expe­ri­ence the joy of the celebration.

As always, if you have a book you believe should be on this list, let us know in the com­ments or send us an e‑mail. We’ll most like­ly add it, with a thanks to you.

Apple Days: a Rosh Hashanah Story  

Apple Days: a Rosh Hashanah Story
writ­ten by Alli­son Soffer
ill­lus­trat­ed by Bob McMahon
Kar-Ben Publishing

Rosh Hashanah is Katy’s favorite hol­i­day because she loves pick­ing apples and mak­ing apple­sauce with her moth­er. But there’s a new arrival in the fam­i­ly which steers atten­tion away from the tra­di­tions. How will Katy cope?


Apples and Honey  

Apples and Honey
writ­ten by Joan Holub
illus­trat­ed by Cary Pillo-Lassen

This lift-the-flap book shows young read­ers the mean­ing and tra­di­tions of Rosh Hashanah as chil­dren make New Year’s cards to send to fam­i­ly and friends, go to tem­ple and hear dad blow the sho­far, and, after din­ner, enjoy apples dipped in hon­ey to mark a sweet new year.

Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur  

Cel­e­brate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur:
with Hon­ey, Prayers, and the Shofar

writ­ten by Deb­o­rah Heiligman
Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Chil­dren’s Books
Hol­i­days Around the World series

A look at how these two Jew­ish High Holy Days are cel­e­brat­ed world­wide. Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflec­tion and res­o­lu­tion. On Yom Kip­pur, the Day of Atone­ment, Jews fast, pray, and ask God’s for­give­ness for their sins. Deb­o­rah Heilig­man’s live­ly first-per­son text intro­duces read­ers to the sound­ing of the sho­far, the hol­i­days’ greet­ing cards, prayers, and spe­cial foods. Rab­bi Shi­ra Stern’s infor­ma­tive note puts the High Holy Days into wider his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al con­text for par­ents and teachers.

Even Higher  

Even High­er!
A Rosh Hashanah Sto­ry by I.L. Peretz

adapt­ed by Eric A. Kimmel
illus­trat­ed by Jill Weber
Hol­i­day House

Every year, just before Rosh Hashanah, the rab­bi of Nemirov dis­ap­pears. The vil­lagers are cer­tain their rab­bi flies up to heav­en to speak with God. Where else would such a great and holy man go just before the fate of every soul is decid­ed for the com­ing year? But a skep­ti­cal Lit­vak scoffs at the vil­lagers, claim­ing mir­a­cles can­not hap­pen. He vows to dis­cov­er the rab­bi’s secret, but what he wit­ness­es — an enor­mous act of human com­pas­sion — will make any doubter believe.

Happy New Year, Beni  

Hap­py New Year, Beni
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Jane Bre­skin Zalben

This Rosh Hashanah, Beni and Sara are going to Grand­ma and Grand­pa’s for the hol­i­days. Before din­ner, Sara lights the can­dles and Grand­pa says the Kid­dush. “To a sweet, good year! L’shanah Tovah!” At the tem­ple, Papa blows the sho­far and joy­ful­ly wel­comes in the new year. But cousin Max almost spoils the hol­i­day for every­one — he hogs all the sweet fruits at din­ner and puts creepy sur­pris­es under his cousins’ pil­lows. It’s only when Grand­pa takes a qui­et moment to explain the tra­di­tion of Tash­likh that Max is will­ing to start the new year off with a clean slate. Or is he?

Is It Rosh Hashanah Yet?  

Is It Rosh Hashanah Yet?
writ­ten by Chris Barash
illus­trat­ed by Alessan­dra Psacharopulo
Albert Whitman

As sum­mer ends and fall set­tles in, a fam­i­ly pre­pares to cel­e­brate the Jew­ish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It’s time to pick apples, make cards, light the can­dles, and eat brisket to ring in the new year! The refrain “Rosh Hashanah is on its way” is repeat­able for read-alouds.

It's Shofar Time!  

It’s Sho­far Time!
writ­ten by Lat­i­fa Berry Knopf
pho­tographs by Tod Cohen
Lern­er Books

It’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jew­ish New Year. It’s time to learn new things, wear new clothes, and taste new foods. It’s time to toss crumbs into the water and say, “I’m sor­ry.” It’s time to hear the sounds of the sho­far. Rec­om­mend­ed for preschoolers.

Little Red Rosie  

Lit­tle Red Rosie: a Rosh Hashanah Story
writ­ten by Eric A. Kimmel
illus­trat­ed by Mon­i­ca Gutierrez
Apples & Hon­ey Press

Wel­com­ing your guests for Rosh Hashanah requires cre­ativ­i­ty, orga­ni­za­tion, and care. In this ver­sion of The Lit­tle Red Hen, Rosie pre­pare chal­lah with a lit­tle ? help ? from her friends. 


Minnie's Yom Kippur Birthday  

Min­nie’s Yom Kip­pur Birthday
writ­ten by Mar­i­lyn Singer
illus­trat­ed by Ruth Rosner
(con­tributed by Natal­ie A. Rosinsky)

Min­nie’s birth­day falls on Yom Kip­pur, the most solemn of Jew­ish hol­i­days. Her father tells her that her birth­day will be dif­fer­ent, qui­et, reflec­tive. Her moth­er tells her there will also be a sur­prise. After fight­ing with her sis­ter, Min­nie lis­tens to the Rab­bi’s sto­ry of Jon­ah, who did bad things, and how the whale spit him out after he apol­o­gized. Min­nie feels bad­ly about fight­ing with her broth­er and sis­ter, and she whis­pers her apolo­gies. This book beau­ti­ful­ly includes the ele­ments of the hol­i­day and Ros­ner’s illus­tra­tions por­tray the solem­ni­ty and cel­e­bra­tion. Oh, and after the sho­far sounds, the con­gre­ga­tion brings Min­nie a birth­day cake!

Mitzi's Mitzvah  

Mitz­i’s Mitzvah
writ­ten by Glo­ria Koster
illus­trat­ed by Hol­li Conger
Kar-Ben Publishing

Mitzi is an adorable pup­py who vis­its a nurs­ing home to help the res­i­dents cel­e­brate Rosh Hashanah.


A Moon for Moe and Mo  

A Moon for Moe and Mo
writ­ten by Jane Bre­skin Zalben
illus­trat­ed by Mehrdokht Amini

Moses Feld­man, a Jew­ish boy, lives at one end of Flat­bush Avenue in Brook­lyn, New York, while Mohammed Has­san, a Mus­lim boy, lives at the oth­er. One day they meet at Sahadi’s mar­ket while out shop­ping with their moth­ers and are mis­tak­en for broth­ers. A friend­ship is born, and the boys bring their fam­i­lies togeth­er to share rugelach and date cook­ies in the park as they make a wish for peace.

New Year at the Pier  

New Year at the Pier: a Rosh Hashanah Story
writ­ten by April Hal­prin Wayland
illus­trat­ed by Stephane Jorisch
Pen­guin Ran­dom House

Izzy’s favorite part of Rosh Hashanah is Tash­lich, a joy­ous cer­e­mo­ny in which peo­ple apol­o­gize for the mis­takes they made in the pre­vi­ous year and thus clean the slate as the new year begins. But there is one mis­take on Izzy’s “I’m sor­ry” list that he’s find­ing espe­cial­ly hard to say out loud.

Humor, touch­ing moments between fam­i­ly and friends, and lots of infor­ma­tion about the Jew­ish New Year are all com­bined in this love­ly pic­ture book for hol­i­day sharing.

Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons  

Rab­bi Ben­jam­in’s Buttons 
writ­ten by Alice McGinty
illus­trat­ed by Jen­nifer Black Reinhardt

Rab­bi Ben­jam­in’s con­gre­ga­tion presents him with a new vest on Rosh Hashanah, the Jew­ish New Year. It has but­tons depict­ing the major hol­i­days cel­e­brat­ed each year. They also give him deli­cious food that he delights in eat­ing. That leads to a prob­lem: the but­tons are pop­ping off Rab­bi Ben­jam­in’s vest because he’s putting on so much weight. As he pitch­es in to help his fam­i­lies, he gets a great deal of exer­cise. Will the vest fit once again?

Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah


Sam­my Spi­der’s First Rosh Hashanah
writ­ten by Sylvia Rouss
illus­trat­ed by Kather­ine Janus Kahn
Kar-Ben Publishing

Young Sam­my is mis­chie­vous, fun-lov­ing, and curi­ous. What is Rosh Hashanah, the cel­e­bra­tion of the New Year? Moth­er Spi­der gives him an under­stand­ing of the rea­sons for apples and hon­ey, chal­lah bread, and greet­ing cards. The author and illus­tra­tor inte­grate the con­cept of size into the story.

Secret Shofar of Barcelona


Secret Sho­far of Barcelona
writ­ten by Jacque­line Dem­bar Green
illus­trat­ed by Dou­glas Chayka
Kar-Ben Publishing

Sym­pho­ny con­duc­tor Don Fer­nan­do longs to hear the sounds of the sho­far. Dur­ing the Span­ish Inqui­si­tion, he has to hide his Jew­ish reli­gion and pre­tend to fol­low the teach­ings of the church. But when he is asked to per­form a con­cert cel­e­brat­ing the new world, he and his son Rafael devise a clever plan to ush­er in the Jew­ish New Year in plain sight of the Span­ish nobility.

Talia and the Rude Vegetables


Talia and the Rude Vegetables
writ­ten by Lin­da Elovitz Marshall
illus­trat­ed by Francesca Assirelli
Kar-Ben Publishing

Hear­ing her grand­moth­er incor­rect­ly, Talia won­ders “How can a veg­etable be ‘rude’?” Her grand­moth­er asked her to gath­er “root” veg­eta­bles for a Rosh Hashanah stew but Talia is on a mis­sion in the gar­den. She col­lects the twist­ed, ornery car­rots and parsnips and finds a good home for the rest.

Tashlich at Turtle Rock  

Tash­lich at Tur­tle Rock
writ­ten by Susan Schnur and Anna Schnur-Fishman
illus­trat­ed by Alex Steele-Morton
Kar-Ben Publishing
(con­tributed by Natal­ie A. Rosinsky)

Annie is excit­ed about the Tash­lich cer­e­mo­ny on the after­noon of Rosh Hashanah, when her fam­i­ly will walk to Tur­tle Rock Creek and throw crumbs into the water, as sym­bols of mis­takes made the past year. As Annie leads her fam­i­ly through the woods stop­ping at favorite rocks, bridges, and water­falls in her family’s own Tash­lich rit­u­al, they think about the good and bad things that hap­pened dur­ing the past year, and make plans for a sweet­er new year. This sto­ry focus­es on eco­log­i­cal con­nec­tions to the Tash­lich cer­e­mo­ny and encour­ages fam­i­lies to cus­tomize the rit­u­al and com­mune with nature at the New Year.

The World's Birthday


The World’s Birthday
writ­ten by Bar­bara Dia­mond Goldin
illus­trat­ed by Jeanette Winter
Houghton Mif­flin Harcourt

A lit­tle boy wants to cel­e­brate Rosh Hashanah, the world’s birth­day, in the best way he knows how: by throw­ing a birth­day par­ty! The idea is so con­ta­gious that before you know it, you may find your­self singing Hap­py Birth­day World at your own Rosh Hashanah dinner.

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4 years ago

To this great list I would add Tash­lich at Tur­tle Rock (2010) by Susan Schnur and Anna Schnur-Fish­man and Min­nie’s Yom Kip­pur Birth­day (1989) writ­ten by Mar­i­lyn Singer and illus­trat­ed by Ruth Rosner.