The Hardest Word by Jacqueline Jules
Probably the best book is The Hardest Word by Jacqueline Jules. I need to admit that I personally don’t love this book. Usually, I try hard not to recommend children’s books that adults won’t like — but in this case, this is a huge crowd pleaser for the younger crowd and actually effectively teaches how difficult, and important it is, to say you are sorry. I won’t describe the story because I doubt you’d look at it if I did but really, it is actually quite a good discussion starter. The illustrations may feel very old fashioned, as does the text type (see me being picky), but the message is good and kids seem to really relate to it. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how much you are willing to put up with for your children, if your children like the Ziz character, there are a few more books featuring the mythical giant bird for them to enjoy and for you to cringe at. Check out Noah and the Ziz, The Princess and the Ziz, and The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle.
When the Chickens Went on Strike by Erica Silverman
When the Chickens Went on Strike by Erica Silverman is stunning — which really counts for a lot for me because I think that everyone judges a book by its cover. Even more so with children’s books: everyone judges a picture book by its illustrations.
But I will offer, that it is on a bit of an odd topic. Adapted from a Sholom Aleichem story, Chickensis about a boy who has a really hard time being good. He wants to be good, he really does. But somehow between wanting and doing is a big leap — the same problem that many children I know have. So, what’s odd about that? Well, then comes the custom of kapores — the ritual that few non-Ultra Orthodox Jews do anymore — where a person swings a chicken over their head as a way of atoning for their sins. It’s an odd custom and the chickens don’t want to have any part of it (naturally). In the process of trying to convince them, this boy (and the reader) learn a good lesson about how to be a better person (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not related to whether or not you swing a chicken over your head).
It’s definitely a fun book, even if your family doesn’t practice the custom of Kapores. Everyone needs a little help being a better person…
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