Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easter and Passover: Books for the Holidays

What a beautiful spring!  And with Passover and Easter just around the corner, I thought I'd take a look at books that highlight the holidays and their traditions.  Some are funny, some poignant and some explanatory, especially if you are not familiar with the holiday you are reading about.

I have to say, there are a ton of books about the Easter Bunny, but I didn't find any I loved.  (Jan Brett's The Easter Egg came the closest and her books are tons of fun to look at.)  And finding books about the actual religious holidays was very tricky.  I hope you like what I came up with!

Piggy Bunny (Author: Rachel Vail; Illustrator: Jeremy Tankard) - Okay, in my intro I said I didn't come across any Easter Bunny books that I loved. But here is an Easter Bunny book with a twist. Liam (a pig) wants to be the Easter Bunny when he grows up. He practices and persists, even against a lot of criticism. Finally, when his grandparents believe in him, he gains the confidence to believe in himself. The lessons from this book reach far beyond the Easter holiday!

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah (Author: Leslie Kimmelman; Illustrator: Paul Meisel) - This is a funny holiday version of the well-known folk tale.  It uses witty repetition and a few well-placed Yiddish words to come to a satisfying conclusion that is drawn from the Passover tradition. 

The Matzah That Papa Brought Home (Author: Fran Manushkin; Illustrator: Ned Bittinger) - Follow the richness and meaning behind the Passover Seder through the form of The House That Jack Built.  The beautiful paintings draw you to the family table and the story of Passover, including the vocabulary and notes behind the traditional parts of the feast, are given at the end.

Chicken Sunday (Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco) - Patricia Polacco's childhood memories are a rich treasure trove for her memoir-like stories.  In Chicken Sunday, the children want to get Miss Eula a beautiful Easter hat. After a misunderstanding with the hat maker, they have to prove they are trustworthy.  Polacco masterfully marries Russian and Baptist traditions to show the gift of love and sacrifice for Easter. 

The Story of Easter for Children (Author: Beverly Rae Wiersum; Illustrator: Lorraine Schreiner Wells) - In this rhyming book, the joys of spring transition to the Biblical story of Easter.  This is a simple retelling of the Easter story for young children; the only one I could find!  (The Very First Easter by Paul L. Maier is the only other picture book I came across that looked at the Bible story, but it is meant for older children; perhaps 10 and up.)



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