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.
23 Picture 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.
Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma by Annette Schottenfeld
When Max and Emily’s Savta (grandma) visits from Israel, Max is excited and wants to do everything, all at once! The kids want to cook special Rosh Hashanah food with Savta, but first they have to go to the orchard to pick the apples. Along the way, Max learns about the value of patience, and how to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
This book is excellent for kids ages 4 and up.
Happy Birthday World: A Rosh Hashanah Celebration by Latifa Berry Kropf
This book is a simple introduction to Rosh Hashanah for young readers. It explains that the celebration is like a birthday party for the world, and compares the traditions of Rosh Hashanah to those of a child’s birthday party.
I recommend sharing this book with youngsters 5 and under, but older kids may enjoy it as well.
Happy New Year, Beni by Jane Breskin Zalben
Beni and Sara are excited to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with their grandparents…but they’re not so excited about celebrating with their cousin Max. Max plays pranks and hogs all the sweet treats, and it takes a conversation with Grandpa to help him understand forgiveness and making things right.
This book is excellent for sharing with children ages 4 and up.
Measuring a Year: A Rosh Hashanah Story by Linda Elovitz Marshall
This picture book examines all the ways we measure a year: how much we grew, the things we experienced, the people we met. It also explains how the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are used to measure a year, and how these holidays offer an opportunity to reflect and consider how to share kindness with others.
This book is really lovely and I think it’s perfect for reading with kids ages 3 and up.
Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae: A Rosh Hashanah Story by Chris Barash
This book follows four friends who are celebrating the Jewish New Year. Each friend reflects on the things they could’ve done differently in the past year, and they cast away their mistakes through a custom called tashlich, resolving to learn from their mistakes and do better in the new year.
This sweet story is a great choice for children ages 4 and up.
Rosh Hashanah with Uncle Max by Varda Livney
In this board book, two young children are so excited to welcome their fun Uncle Max to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Together they eat apples and honey, blow the shofar, and participate in other Rosh Hashanah traditions together. The book translates and transliterates many Hebrew words so young readers can become familiar with them.
This book features a diverse cast of characters, and is great for toddlers and preschoolers.
Tashlich at Turtle Rock by Susan Schnur
This lovely picture book explores the custom of a Tashlich ceremony. Anna and her family walk to Turtle Rock Creek, observing the beauty of nature along the way. While they walk, they reflect on the past year. Once they reach the creek, they throw crumbs in the water that symbolize the mistakes of the past year being carried away.
I recommend this book for kids ages 5 and up.
What’s the Buzz?: Honey for a Sweet New Year by Allison Ofanansky
Science and faith come together in this nonfiction picture book! Readers will learn how bees make honey, and then follow that honey as it comes to the Rosh Hashanah table for a celebration of the new year. There are also lots of facts about the history of honey and how it has been used in religious observence over the years.
This book is a fun read for kids ages 3 and up
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