Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is a two-day celebration marked by the blowing of a shofar, the eating of apples and honey, and a time of reflection before the celebration of Yom Kippur ten days later. Our family wanted to learn more about this special holiday, so we sought out some helpful books about Rosh Hashanah.
The books listed below are a great introduction to this High Holy Day, both for those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah and those who are simply looking to learn more about the Jewish faith. You’ll find stories that explain the customs of this celebration, as well as those that capture the spirit behind the day. I think your family will enjoy these books about Rosh Hashanah.
11 Children’s Books About Rosh Hashanah
Apples and Honey by Joan Holub — This adorable lift-the-flap book is a great introduction to Rosh Hashanah. It explores all of the important traditions through the eyes of two young children, and explains the meaning behind them. A perfect book for reading with preschoolers!
On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by Cathy Goldberg Fishman — A young girl shares all the ways she can tell Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are near: cards wishing La Shana Tova, a special meal, and worship at the temple. This beautifully illustrated book is perfect for sharing with school-aged children.
Apple Days by Allison Sarnoff Soffer — Katy is so excited about Rosh Hashanah, when she gets to pick apples at the orchard with her mother and cook homemade applesauce. But when Katy’s baby cousin comes early, she wonders if she will miss out on her favorite part of this special time.
Rosh Hashanah is Coming! by Tracy Newman — This adorable board book introduces the youngest readers to the traditions of Rosh Hashanah. The rhyming story and bright illustrations make this a fun read for toddlers and preschoolers.
Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride by Deborah Bodin Cohen – Engineer Ari is excited to drive the first train from Jaffa to Jerusalem. But when he leaves, he forgets to tell the other engineers goodbye. He has to remember that Rosh Hashanah is a time of repentance and saying, “I’m sorry.”
Even Higher! A Rosh Hashanah Story by Eric A. Kimmel – Every year the Rabbi of Nemirov vanishes before Rosh Hashanah. The people of the village think he must be flying up to heaven, and one day a skeptic sets out to prove them wrong. He follows the rabbi and finds that while he isn’t flying to heaven, he is doing an act of kindness that makes the skeptic reassess his view on miracles.
What a Way to Start a New Year! A Rosh Hashanah Story by Jacqueline Jules — Dina and her family are starting the new year in a new city. They plan to go back to celebrate with their old neighbors, but a series of unfortunate events keep them from getting there. Dina discovers that while she misses her old home, her new community is pretty great, too.
New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Wayland — Izzy is getting ready for his favorite part of Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich, where people admit their mistakes from the previous year and “cast them away.” Izzy is able to easily apologize for three mistakes, but the fourth is much harder to admit. All readers will be able to relate to this story of cleaning the slate and admitting the things we’ve done wrong.
I’m Sorry, Grover by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fischer — Brosh can’t find his blue cap, which makes him very upset. He think someone has taken it, maybe even one of his friends. When Grover finds the hat and returns it, Brosh has an opportunity to say that he’s sorry through the celebration of Rosh Hashanah. This book weaves the traditions of this holiday with a story to which all children can relate.
Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah by Sylvia Rouss — Sammy is a curious spider, and as he observes a family’s Rosh Hashanah celebration, he wants to join in. Mother Spider explains the special customs of this holiday, and Sammy figures out how to celebrate in his own way. This is one of my favorite books about Rosh Hashanah.
Gershon’s Monster: A Story of the Jewish New Year by Eric A. Kimmel — Like most people, Gershon the baker was not perfect. He sometimes lost his temper, lied, or broke promises. However, he never felt bad for these things. He simply put them into a sack and threw them into the Black Sea every year on Rosh Hashanah. In this Hasidic legend, Gershon learns an important lesson about repentance and the consequences of our actions.
A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben – Once every 30 years or so, Rosh Hashanah and the Muslim holiday of Ramadan overlap. In this story, neighbors Moses and Mohammed meet in the midst of these celebrations. As the two become friends, they learn more about each other and their cultures. Their families even come together, to bond and share a wish for peace on earth. This gorgeous story is perfect for sharing with kids ages 3 and up.
How the Rosh Hashanah Challah Became Round by Sylvia B. Epstein – Sometimes a mistake can be turned into something positive! Yossi’s father is the town baker, and Yossi loves helping him at his work. One day Yossi takes a terrible tumble…and the result is a Jewish tradition. Preschool aged kids will love this fun fable about the shape of challah bread.
Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale by Eric Kimmel – This fun story is a classic American tall tale…with a Jewish twist! Big Sam is making challah for Rosh Hashanah, but he’s so huge that regular utensils won’t work for him. Instead, Big Sam uses the amazing features of the American landscape to make his challah. Along the way, he learns some important lessons about caring for our world. All little ones will love this entertaining story of how some of our most famous landmarks came to be. I recommend reading this book with kids ages 4 and up.
Rachel’s Roses by Ferida Wolff – Rachel longs for something that will help her to stand out. When she sees some beautiful rose buttons in a local shop, she knows they are the exact thing she needs. They will look perfect on the skirt her mother is making her for Rosh Hashanah! However, Rachel can’t afford them, so she sets about working to earn the money. In the midst of her hard work, will she be able to remember what Rosh Hashanah is really about? This historical fiction early chapter book is wonderful for readers in grades 2 through 5.
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