Last week I had some classroom visits at a private Jewish school in the town where I work. They requested some Passover stories, so I scoured through our county system’s titles and eventually found a few for read-alouds. I was disappointed to find a shortage of exciting titles for the K-3 set. I’m by no means an expert on books for Jewish holidays, so there may be great titles out there that I just didn’t find in my library system. Some of the books would work for older kids, but they weren’t that well suited for story time. Too long, kind of dull, or very serious content matter like death and the Holocaust. There were some gems, though. In the end, I only read two of the Passover books I brought with me due to timing issues (I filled in short gaps with silly poems from Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky).

This was by far the best title I found. The kids loved it (and many of them knew the book already). This variation was new to the teachers, but they were laughing louder than the kids. I needed help with the Hebrew pronunciations, but I let the kids know that at the start and they were wonderful. My lack of knowledge was actually a great way to make the stories interactive, and it kept the kids’ attention while I read. The illustrations are colorful but still muted, and the movements of the characters are very expressive. This was the biggest hit.

This title worked best for the younger grades, but the 2nd and 3rd grade classes also knew this story and enjoyed it. I think it’s much less engaging as a fleshed out story than Matzo Ball Boy, which had so much personality. But the colors are bright, the concept is silly and fun, and it’s a decent title for a read-aloud. It’s also much shorter than Shulman’s book, so it worked as a quick addition to keep the kids focused and get another story in.

Other titles I pulled but didn’t actually read were This is the Matzah by Abby Levine and Paige Billin-Frye, The Magician’s Visit: A Passover Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin and Robert Andrew Parker (which would have been my next choice for a longer story), and The Secret Seder by Doreen Rappaport.