Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover books for your family: Miriam's Cup, and Wonders & Miracles (ages 5 - 14)

If you are looking for books to share with your children during Passover, I would highly recommend two books, one for younger readers and another for older readers. These are books that will enrich children's lives and understanding of this special holiday, whether their families celebrate Passover or not.
Miriams Cup A Passover Story (Scholastic Bookshelf)Miriam's Cup: A Passover Story
by Fran Manushkin
illustrated by Bob Dacey
NY: Scholastic, 1998
ages 4 - 8
available on Amazon or at your local library
Every spring as Passover arrives, Miriam and her brother help prepare the house for this special celebration. This year, Mama has a surprise for Miriam: a beautiful glass cup and the story of the prophet she was named for. "Every year we tell the story of how God freed our ancestors from slavery. Well, one of these ancestors was a brave and clever girl named Miriam." Miriam was Moses's older sister who placed him in the Nile for the Pharoah's daughter to find. Many years later, as Moses was leading the Jewish people out of Egypt, Miriam helped inspire the people with song and dance. In her honor, God created Miriam's Well, which provided clear water for the Israelites in the desert. This picture book does a wonderful job of retelling the story of the Israelites' exodus, and the role of Moses and Miriam. It is clearly retold, and the illustrations are  full of movement, color and emotion.
Wonders and Miracles: A Passover Companion
by Eric Kimmel
NY: Scholastic, 2004
ages 9 - 14
available on Amazon or at your local public library
Wonders and Miracles is a rich resource for families to enjoy and go back to year after year. Eric Kimmel presents the steps performed in a traditional Passover Seder, plus stories, songs, poetry, and art that spans 3,000 years, four continents, and fifteen countries.  The project started with the goal of making the Passover Seder accessible and comprehensible to people of all ages and all backgrounds. According to author Eric Kimmel,
This book was created to give people of all ages a fuller, richer understanding of what Passover means. This book should be read before the Seder, and used during the Seder together with the Haggadah, to answer questions that the participants have. That is what the Seder is really about: asking questions, getting answers, expanding our knowledge, and understanding.
Kimmel explores the history and lore of Passover; some sections explain the different parts of the Haggada, while others present stories of different Jewish people celebrating Passover throughout history. I particularly liked how the book was organized using the Seder as the central organization, with different sections you can dip into. Parents will enjoy reading this to understand more details behind the holidays, and older children will enjoy reading different folklore and explanations. As the Booklist review says, Kimmel's "writing shines as he ably explains the holiday, its customs, and rituals in language simple enough for children yet layered to keep the attention of teens and adults."

The illustrations are especially rich and detailed, including medieval Haggadahs reproduced in full color, a 15th century B.C.E. Egyptian mural of slaves making bricks and mortar, and artifacts such as a 19th-century matzoh cover from India.  Wonders and Miracles received the Sidney Taylor Honor Award for Older Readers in 2004.

Both of these books came from my local public library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this page, a small percentage will go to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

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