Monday, September 28, 2009

The Days of Awe


Today is Yom Kippur, which our Jewish readers already know is the culmination of the Days of Awe which stretch a span of 10 days from Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) to today, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

For those of you not familiar with the Jewish high holidays, now would be a great time to introduce yourself and your family to them - especially if your child has friends who practice the Jewish faith.

Sound the Shofar! by Leslie Kimmelman


Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by National Geographic

Are two great resources. For those Jewish readers already familiar with the high holidays these are still great books, especially the later, as it shows how Jewish cultures all around the world celebrate the holidays. It is interesting to compare what is the same, and what is different between their celebrations and your own.

Now I am only part Jewish, and my family no longer practices - so I, unfortuantely, do not have a handed down family recipe for the Challah (the bread eatten at meals during the Days of Awe) - but Here Is A Good One - I hope you'll give it a try!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's Back To School!

Due to last week's change of plans I postponed the posting of this particular blog about back-to-school books. Most of you out there have probably already started classes, but still - better late than never!

When I was first starting kindergarten it was no big deal for me. I was an outgoing kid, it was only a half-day of school, I'd already had some pre-school experience and my mom (or a family friend) picked me up and dropped me off at school each day.

For me the scariest back-to-school experience came on the first day of first grade. My family had just moved to Colorado and because I was therefore a late enroller, I got pushed to the overflow school rather than the elementary school that all the other kids in my neighborhood attended. It was a half-hour long bus ride from our home on (what was then) the eastern edge of town to my elementary school in the west, just off the interstate. It was my first time going to school all day long and my very first time navigating the mine field of riding an intimidating big yellow bus.

My mom dropped me off the first day, but wouldn't be able to pick me up, so I had to find my bus out in a lot full of yellow bus-colored giants all alone after school. I was terrified I would get on the wrong bus and end up in a strange neighborhood with no way of finding my home or my family. I very nearly cried as I paced the lot of roaring engines twice before finding the right bus number. Fortunately my bus driver, Ms. Beth, was looking for me so I knew I had found the right place! Maybe school wouldn't be so scary afterall . . .

There are so many great books about school that I can't even begin to list them all, but two of my favorites tell the story of a classroom ill-behaved children in Texas, and their teacher, Miss Nelson. We are first introduced to Miss Nelson and Miss Swamp in Miss Nelson is Missing when the evil substitute Miss Swamp pays a visit and the students learn just how lucky they are to have a teacher like Miss Nelson. In the sequel Miss Nelson is Back, a new set of pupils learns their lesson from Miss Swamp as well.

If your kiddo is just getting started in school I would also recommend I Am Absolutely Too Small for School from the Charlie and Lola series, Franklin Goes to School from the Franklin the Turtle series, The Berenstain Bears Go To School, and Little Critter: First Day of School.

For your older child just getting started on chapter books the Wayside School series by Holes author Louis Sachar are great fun!

And for your YP reader there is of course the Harry Potter series and one of my favorite British school girls, Georgia Nicolson, whose series of confessional journals started publication back when I was still a teenager!

Making a Personalized Pencil Box

What you need:
  • a plain pencil box (plastic or wood recommended)
  • multi-colored permanent markers (or paint pens, or paints)
  • stickers (optional)

Write your child's name prominantly on the top or side of the pencil box, then let them go to town decorating and doodling on it!