Passover Books for Children

The Torah tells us to teach our children about the Exodus from Egypt. Here are books you can share with your children to teach them.

Adler, David A. (illus. by Linda Heller), A Picture Book of Passover. New York: Holiday House, 1982. Most of the book comprises a retelling of the story of the Exodus, from the arrival of Joseph in Egypt through the Parting of the Reed Sea. It is followed by an overly-brief summary of customs associated with the observance of Passover. The story does not follow the Biblical narrative faithfully; it draws on midrashim to embellish the tale. The illustrations are lovely. (age 4+)

Auerbach, Julie Jaslow, Everything's Changing --- It's Pesach! Maryland: Kar-Ben Copies, 1986. In rhyming verse, a young girl explains how her family prepares for Pesach. (age 4+)

Baxter, Leon, Elijah, Messenger of God. Silver Burdett Company, 1984. Biblical stories of Elijah well told and illustrated.

Burstein, Chaya M., A First Jewish Holiday Cookbook. 1989. A brief explanation of all major holidays, followed by mouth-watering recipes which will appeal to children.

Chanover, Hyman and Alice (illus. by Leonard Kessler), Pesah is Coming! USA: United Synagogue of American, 1956. This book attempts to describe preparations for Passover. The first half of the book discusses a family's efforts to change dishes and pots in preparation for Passover (they even buy the cat new dishes); children whose families do not change dishes may have difficulty identifying with this procedure. This is followed by a lengthy discussion of how to make charoset and clean the house. The book is not exciting, but children will enjoy parts of it and the illustrations are simple and clear. [2 and up]

Feder, Harriet K. Not Yet, Elijah! Maryland: Kar-Ben Copies, 1988. A whimsical tale for Pesach in rhyming verse in which the Prophet Elijah waits impatiently outside the door until it is his turn to enter and celebrate.

Fine, Helen, G'dee. New York: UAHC, 1958. The beloved tales of the naughty, mischievious goat G'Dee and his human family continue to delight children, and teach them about Jewish holidays in the telling.

Fisher, Leonard Everett, Moses. New York: Holiday House, 1995. A retelling of the Exodus story with moving, dramatic illustrations. Excellent book.

Fluek, Toby Knobel, Passsover As I Remember It. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. A grandmother recounts her memories of how Pesach was celebrated in her home in Poland in the years before World War II.

Geller, Norman, David's Seder. 1983. A young boy is whisked away by Elijah the Prophet for a special trip and lesson that teaches him the importance of remembering Jewish history.

Goldin, The Magician's Visit. Viking, 1993. A retelling of the I.L. Peretz tale about the" magician" who visits a poor couple for the first seder, and turns out to be none other than Elijah the Prophet. The watercolor illustrations of Robert Andrew Parker befit this wonderful story.

Hirsh, Marilyn, I Love Passover. New York: Holiday House, 1985. I love Passover explains, in detail, how Passover is celebrated and tells the story of the Exodus from the perspective of a preschool girls who helps her mother set the table for the seder and then sits through the reading of the Haggadah. It is a wonderful book for children, filled with colorful, action-oriented illustrations. The language and level are excellent for preschoolers. [2 and up]

Holiday Tales of Sholom Aleichem, selected and translated by Aliza Shevrin. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1979. Six classic tales to enjoy with the family!

Hutton, Warwick, Moses in the Bulrushes. Atheneum, 1986. A beautiful retelling of the birth and rearing of Moses in Egypt. The illustrations are lovely and the story is faithful to the Bible.

Manushkin, Fran, Miriam's Cup: A Passover Story, 1998. A rare gem of a book, which introduces the innovative ritual of Miriam's Cup at the Pesach seder in a gentle and loving manner, while at the same time retelling the story of Exodus with special attention to Miriam's role in the redemption. Manushkin skillfully draws on the biblical text and classical midrashim, weaving them together to make produce a whole that is even greater than the sum of its parts. (age 6 and up)

Manushkin, Fran, The Matzah That Papa Brought Home. Scholastic, 1995. Richly illustrated with oil paintings on linen by Ned Bittinger, this book is written in the style of "The House That Jack Built" and lovingly describes a family's celebration of the Pesach seder. A truly outstanding book with warmth, charm, and educational value.

Marcus, Audrey Friedman and Raymond A. Zwerin (illus. by Judith Gwyn Brown), But This Night is Different: a Seder Experience. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1980. The authors of this book attempt to draw on a child's own life experiences to understand the Haggadah: the feelings of oppression, slavery, liberation and freedom. Unfortunately, some examples are negative: the mother is the pictured as an oppressor. I do not consider this to be a constructive way to present these ideas. In addition, all the blessings used in the seder are presented in Hebrew and transliteration, but without English translations! If you can circumvent these problems, there is much of value in this book. [2 and up]

Medoff, Francine, The Mouse in the Matzah Factory. Maryland: Kar-Ben Copies, 1983. The process of making shmurah matzah is told whimsically through the eyes of a mouse spying on the proceedings, start to finish.

Mee, Charles L., Jr., Moses, Moses. Harper & Row, 1977. A very simple and clear retelling of the account of Moses' birth and rescue from the Nile River by pharaoh's daughter.

Murdock, Hy, Moses. Ladybird Books, 1985. Tells the story of Moses from birth through the encounter with the burning bush. The story is told simply and clearly and is accompanied by cheerful and colorful illustrations.

Polacco, Patricia, Mrs. Katz and Tush. Bantam Books, 1992. About the wonderful friendship between an lonely elderly Jewish widow and a young African-American boy named Larnel. They come together because of a kitten, and learn that they have a great deal in common, enough to become "family." Another wonderful facet of this book is that it presents a non-traditional family: Mrs. Katz, a lonely widow, takes Larnel and his family into her life as her family. A very moving book. (age 5+)

Rosen, Anne, Jonathan and Norma, A Family Passover. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1980. The narrator of this book is 10-year-old Anne who describes her family's preparations for, and celebration of, Passover. The holiday is celebrated in a "traditional" manner (i.e. changing the dishes, burning the chametz and father conducting the seder). The book is illustrated with black-and-white photographs of Anne's family. [2 and up]

Scharfstein, Sol, What Do You Do on a Jewish Holiday? Ktav Publishing House. A pop-up book for youngsters highlighting special features of Jewish holidays. (age 3+)

Schwartz, Lynne Sharon, The Four Questions (paintings by Ori Sherman). Puffin Pied Piper Books, 1989.

Shulevitz, Uri, The Magician. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1973. This is the retelling of a tale by the Yiddish storyteller, I. L. Peretz. It is the story of the prophet who appears in the guise of a magician on the eve of Passover to conjure up a Passover feast for a poor couple. It is a lovely tale.

Silverman, Erica (illus. by Deborah Nourse Lattimore), Gittel's Hands. BridgeWater Books, 1996. A Jewish Rumpelstilskin story, set in the Carpathian Mountains, with Elijah the Prophet saving the day. A charming story about modesty and family loyalty. Also a loving view of a single-parent family (father and daughter). Lattimore's Chagall-like illustrations add great flavor. [Age 5-9]

Weilerstein, Sadie Rose, The Best of K'tonton. JPS, 1980. The title says it all, and they're still great stories after all these years.

Ziefert, Harriet, What is Passover? HarperFestival (division of HarperCollins), 1994. A lift-the-flap book telling a brief synopsis of the story of Passover and what the seder is, for younger kids. Not comprehensive, but easy to understand. [Thanks to Meredith Warshaw for this contribution.]

Zusman, Evelyn, The Passover Parrot. Maryland: Kar-Ben Copies, 1983. Leba's parrot was the only one who was willing to listen to her learn the Four Questions. But when Passover arrives, the parrot participates in the seder a little more than anyone wants: he stills the afikomen. Leba has a clever plan to retrieve the afikomen.

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