Archive for the ‘Zachor/Remembrance’ Category

Remember the Days…Zachor/Remembrance

Remember the days of old,

Consider the years of ages past;

Ask your father, he will inform you,

Your elders, they will tell you…

(Deuteronomy 32:7)

It is appropriate to focus on Zachor/Remembrance as the value for this month, since in and around the month of May/Iyar many new holidays were established to remember the Holocaust and the events leading to the founding of the state of Israel.

Jews are a remembering people. We love a Torah scroll written just as it has been written for thousands of years and read in exactly the same way in every synagogue on every Shabbat the world over. We place a stone on the gravesites of those we loved and revered, formerly to protect their place of rest, now as a statement of remembrance. The traditions, rituals and foods surrounding our holidays and life cycle events embed them deeply into our minds and those of our children.  Judaism uses every means at its disposal to embrace the mind, the body and all the senses to make sure we implant a concrete memory of whatever we are doing firmly into our souls.

This list of books speaks to the need to keep our important memories alive. Whichever title you or your children decide to read, you will capture a sense of the importance of zachor/remembrance.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge By Mem Fox. Illustrated  by Julie Vivas. © 1985. Kane/Miller Book Publishers. With the assistance of his family and friends and using items he collects from all around, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partidge helps his friend Miss Nancy get her memory back. (Ages 4-8)

The Name Quilt By Phyllis Root. Illustrated by Margot Apple. © 2003. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  Sadie loves to hear the stories about all the people whose names are part of the name quilt on her grandmother’s bed, but one day the quilt is blown away in a terrible windstorm. How will they remember all those stories now? (Ages 4-8)

The Keeping Quilt Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. © 1998. Simon & Schuster Books. for Young Readers.  A beautiful quilt is passed down from one generation to the next as it is used for births and birthdays, weddings and deaths in a family.(Ages 4-8)

The Rag Coat Written and illustrated by Lauren Mills. © 1991.  Little, Brown and Company. A young Appalachian girl needs a coat in order to attend school. When the Quilting Mothers create a coat of clothing scraps, the school children laugh at her. Until she tells them the stories of each piece of cloth. (Ages 5-9)

Listen! By Stephanie S. Tolan. © 2006. HarperCollinsPublishers.  This summer, twelve-year-old Charley must recover from an accident but also from the loss of her mother. When a strange dog appears, Charley feels she must follow it, even into the woods that hold the memories of her mother she most wants to forget. (Ages9-12)

Eleven By Patricia Reilly Giff. © 2008.  Wendy Lamb Books. Sam has been having strange dreams of escaping from castles. Then he finds a box in his grandfather’s attic that makes him think he may have been kidnapped. Is any of this possible? Who can help him? (Ages 10-14)

The Giver By Lois Lowry. © 1993. Houghton Mifflin Company. Twelve-year-old Jonas receives his Lifetime Assignment fom the Elders. He is to become the receiver of memories. He will carry the memories of the entire community which he will receive from the Giver. (Ages 11-14)

I Am the Cheese By Robert Cormier. © 1977. Dell Laurel Leaf. Adam Farmer is trying to discover who he is and the more he dsicovers the more complex his life is becomig. (Ages 12-16)

Someone Named Eva By Joan M. Wolf.  © 2007. Clarion Books. After her town is destroyed by the Nazis, Eleven-year-old Milada is separated from her family, her name is changed to Eva and she is taken to a school where she is trained to be a perfect German. She is then adopted by a German family. Based on true events from WWII. (Ages 12-16)

Broken Memory By Elisabeth Combres. Translated by Shelley Tanaka. © 2007. Groundwood Press. A young Tutsi girl survives the brutal Rwandan genocides, then goes on to remember and heal from the pain of the experience. (Ages 14-18)

I have prepared a list of discussion questions and activities that parents and/or teachers can use when reading these books together with children to reinforce the value of zachor/remembrance and learn together about the need to keep family memories from being lost. If you would be interested in using this material, please see the Family Reading Program Section of my website for May/Iyar. May your memories of the month of May be filled with bright sunshine and spring flowers.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection or my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

What About the Rest? Part III: Jewish Books for Teen Readers

With three 2010 Jewish children’s books at the top of my list: The Rooster Prince of Breslov, Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword and Life, After , and guilt over the excellent books I left behind dwindling as I report on my “pretty close to best” list, I am feeling excited about the close of the year. To date, I have provided three picture books: Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty, Jackie’s Gift, and Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book, along with one book for Middle Grade readers, Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp. My 10 for 2010 list is up to seven. Here are the final three:

Jewish Books for Teen Readers (Young Adults)

This was a tough group as there were so many books to read and a number of excellent books to decide between for my “pretty close to best” list. In the end, it came down to “the rule” – those books I remember and will recommend. With that as my guide, it turned into a much easier task.

An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank by Elaine Marie Alphin. © 2010, Carolrhoda Books. Ages 10-18. A riveting account of the murder of Mary Phagan, a poor, white, 13-year-old factory worker from Atlanta, Georgia, and the trial of her accused murderer, Leo Frank, a 29-year-old, Jewish man from New York. I often had to stop and remember that this event actually took place on American soil in the 20th century. This is historical writing at its finest. Mesmerizing, factual, leading the reader step-by-step to the unfolding of a tragic occurrence in American history that began with the murder of an innocent child and ended with the murder of an innocent man. Photographs, newspaper clippings, primary sources and excellent research have created a fabulous tribute to a terrible story.

Annexed by Sharon Dogar. © 2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Ages 10-18. Historical fiction, based on Anne Frank’s  The Diary of a Young Girl, that lets us imagine the inside of Peter van Pels’ head as he lived in the Secret Annex with Anne and her family. The novel is excellent, the writing brilliant, crisp yet profoundly emotional. Peter is in the sick bay of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, hours before Liberation, remembering his time in the Annex. Accompanying him in his memories, we feel his longing to be a regular teenage boy, his loneliness while surrounded by people, his wrestling with his faith and his desire to have some kind of intimate relationship before “the end.” The power of this story lies in our own memories of Anne’s diary, knowing the same people and what they meant to Anne, now seeing them through Peter’s eyes. Despite knowing the final outcome, the strong, powerful writing reminds us to keep our ears open listening for the voices of those who perished. We must never forget.

Hush by Eishes Chayil. © 2010, Walker & Company. Ages 14-18. In an ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn, NY 10-year-old Devory is being repeatedly raped by her yeshiva-bocher brother. During a Shabbat sleepover, her best friend, Gittel pretends she is sleeping, but witnesses one of these events. Despite what she saw and heard with her own eyes and ears, Gittel is told that her experience was a “story” created by her mentally disturbed friend. When Devory commits suicide, her family and the community does everything possible to put the matter behind them, until Gittel, now 18, marries. Suddenly, her memories of that fateful night reawaken as she begins to have sexual relations with her new husband. Realizing the great injustice done to her best friend, she is determined to make it right. This story about allowing tradition and religious devotion to take precedence over common sense and morality, about worrying more about “what the neighbors will think” than “what is best for my child,” is not just about an ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn, NY. It could be a story about an Irish Catholic community in Boston, MA, a Mormon Community in Provo, UT or a Southern Baptist community in Hartsville, TN. Our challenge is to LISTEN to and BELIEVE our children when they speak to us.  Kol Ha Kavod Eishes Chayil and Walker & Company for bringing this story to light. It needed telling and not just to Jews.

Those are my picks for “pretty close to best” 2010 Jewish Books for Teen Readers, thus finishing my 10 for 2010.  The entire list represents a wide spectrum of Jewish history, Jewish life, Jewish story and Jewish experience much like the Jewish people today – diverse, vocal and strong.

I will continue to read, dream and look forward to your comments. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2011.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my own collection or my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

Welcome to the April Carnival of Children’s Literature!

I volunteered to host the April Carnival of Children’s Literature for Kidlitosphere Central. What is Kidlitosphere Central? In my own words, it is a group of individuals, passionate about children’s literature, who put their time, money, energy and love where their mouths – oops – fingers are. Our goal: getting excellent children’s books into the hands of children and their families. In essence, we are out to change the world, one book at a time.

And boy, have we had a busy month! With so much going on from National Poetry Month to Earth Day, several Jewish holidays (for me) and as always, tons of books to review,  I had to take a step back and many deep breaths to figure out how to arrange all of this material.  I have had quite a journey, but a lot of fun along the way.

To organize the submissions I received around the themes I perceived, I am using excerpts from The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009) as my guidebook.  I also want to thank Lee Wind at The Zen of Blogging for helping me get my head on straight as I began this endeavor. Starting with his  “thread video” for Earth Day and ending with “’Jingle Bells,’ Karaoke,…”  and Adam Lambert,  he has been a real inspiration. I want to kick the Carnival off with this  selection  in honor of Lee:

“His back legs are a pair of hands,/ They can spindle out the strands/ Of a thread that is small /It stops the sunlight not at all.” From “The Spider” by Robert P. Tristram Coffin

So let’s get started shall we?

“I should like to write a poem about the world that has in it nothing fancy. /But it seems impossible.” From “This World” by Mary Oliver

April was National Poetry Month.

Many, many members of the kidlitosphere participated in NPM in some way. Here’s the list put together by Laura Evans at All Things Poetry as posted on The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Susan Taylor Brown kicked off the month with The Child I Was at Susan Taylor Brown, saying, “The Child I Was is the first poem 30 Poems in 30 Days in the month long series for National Poetry Month in which I challenged myself to write a poem a day about the father I have never known.” Believe me when I tell you her work is powerful.

Carmela Martino sent Patterns in Poetry! How I wrote This Poem—a Poetry Writing Workout posted at Teaching Authors, saying, “April Halprin Wayland shares an original poem celebrating our blogiversary and Earth Day, along with a lesson plan for creating a unique rhyming poem.”

Mary Ann Scheuer shared Tan to Tamarind: poems about the color brown (ages 4-8) posted at Great Kid Books, adding, “At its best, poetry can help give voice and language to things we sense and experience. Young children notice different skin colors, and yet they can struggle to explain those different colors, to name them. Tan to Tamarind is a beautiful book that celebrates the beauty of brown, and helps give voice to the different shades of skin children see all around them.”

“Soak up the sun/Affirm life’s magic/Be graceful in the wind/Stand tall after a storm/Feel refreshed after it rains/Grow strong without notice/Be prepared for each season/Provide shelter for strangers/Hang tough through a cold spell/Emerge renewed at the first sign of spring/Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky/Be still long enough to/Hear your own leaves rustling.” “Think Like a Tree” By Karen I. Shragg

April saw the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.

The Miss Rumphius  Effect provided a fantastic book list on Trees.

Julie Hedlund sent along Picture Books for the Planet at Write Up My Life, saying, “In honor of Earth Week, I rounded up some of my favorite books with nature, wildlife and ecological themes.”  I love that she focused not just on Earth Day but on everyday respect for Nature.

Eric Aldrich shared 10 Works – List # 3 – Nature, Animals, and Survival in Young Adult Literature at making owls cool since 1986. A list of outdoor classics.

“In honor of Earth Day,” Deborah Freedman provided probably one of the most unique Earth Day blogs I have seen –  The Real World at Writes with Pictures .

“Sing of the Earth and sky,/sing of our lovely planet,/sing of the low and high, of fossils locked in granite./ Sing of the strange, the known,/ the secrets that surround us,/ sing of the wonders shown,/ and wonders still around us.”  By Aileen Fisher

If Poetry and Mother Earth were not enough, April had plenty of other things to rejoice over.

Trickster Fiction with Kate Coombs at Book Aunt. “A mega-post taking a look at tricksters in children’s literature.”

Archaeology and Fossils with SarahN. If you are able to tear yourself away from the picture of the most delicious cookies I have seen in a while (I need that recipe!) read  “a review of 3 children’s books about fossils and archaeology” Non-Fiction Monday: Fossils and Archaeology at In Need Of Chocolate.

Celebrate Every Family with Amanda Hartman at The Literary Family. “The books we read to and with kids matter. This posting celebrates families. All different kinds of families. Families that resemble our own and ones that do not! To grow a more lovely world, the books and ideas we discuss with all kids matter. Help kids build positive self images of themselves and build positive images of others. You will see that this blog helps aunties, teachers, friends, and parents build strong relationships through reading books together. Enjoy the books, enjoy the blog and enjoy the read.”

Nonfiction with Jennifer at Jean Little Library, as she writes about Exploring Nonfiction With New Readers. “I’ve offered several suggestions on books to introduce new readers to nonfiction as well as ideas on how to use nonfiction to interact with emerging readers.”

Exoplanets with Shirley Duke. What? You never heard of an exoplanet. Then you better get to SimplyScience Blog,and read about Planet Hunter–Out of this World! “Written by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein, this book traces the career of Dr. Geoff Marcy and his search for exoplanets, or planets outside of our solar system.”

Pajamas with Mary Ann Dames. “Did you know that April 16 was Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day? Well, it was. For that week’s Reading Monday I shared picture books about PJs. Recipe Wednesday told how to make Breakfast-for-Lunch Sandwich. Writing Friday’s prompt was about wearing your PJs all day. 8-)”  Reading, Writing &.. – Mary Ann Dames, M.S., R.D. at Reading, Writing, and Recipes.

Fairy Tales with Roberta Gibson. A review of three delicious picture book fairy tales.  Wrapped in Foil · Three Servings of Fairy Tales at Wrapped in Foil,

Unconditional Love with Saraline Grenier. Stories of unconditional love for children at Feminist Mom in Montreal

“…Those who saw the buffaloes are gone,/And the buffaloes are gone.”  From “Buffalo Dusk” by Carl Sandburg

Zachor/Remembrance was my theme for the month of April. It appears that resonated with others as well.

Barbara Bietz presents an interview with Debbie Levy, author of The Year of Goodbyes posted at Jewish Books for Children with Author Barbara Bietz.

Susan Kusel shares When I was your age…at Booklights, commenting, “Remember a book you loved as a child? Read it again before recommending it to children today.”

Remember taking those standardized tests in school? Camille at BookMoot will remind you It’s TAKS time in Texas.

“This is the gist of what I have to say./From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood, /move to an infant drinking milk,/to a child on solid food,/to a searcher after wisdom,/to a hunter of more invisible game…” From Little by Little by Jelaluddin Rumi. Translated from the Persian by Coleman Barks.

Several contributions assist in creating those “searchers after wisdom” by helping children read.

Jennifer at the Jean Little Library is hosting her own “I Can Read Carnival!” this month. Stop in for a visit and check out some interesting books for early readers.

Fiona Ingram shares Does Your Child Struggle to Read? Tips for Parents at Word Magic: Articles & Tips for Authors, she says, “It can be disappointing when your child expresses absolutely no interest in reading. Reading is a skill, just like any other skill. It has to be introduced, nurtured, and developed. Here are some great tips for parents.”

Helaine Becker sent along How to Stimulate Scientific Curiosity in Your Kids at Track & Display Changes: A Writer’s Blog, with the comment, “Some notes about what I’ve learned as a writer of science-y non-fiction for kids and as a former kid myself.”

“…Put on the palm,/Still rough/With crumbs,/They roll and/Glisten in the sun/As fresh/As new rubies/Dug out of/Deepest earth.” From Earthworms by Valerie Worth.

Let’s put those books to work!

Abigail Bailey read The Dark is Rising and got out her yarn and crochet hooks!  Crochet basics – Sign seeker belt « at, she adds “I’ve been re-reading “The Dark is Rising” every year since I was 11 years old. This crochet pattern is inspired by one of the kid’s books that matters very much to me.”

Katie Fries sent along The Day-Glo Brothers – Neon Painted Cake at Eat Their Words, saying, “After reading Chris Barton’s The Day-Glo Brothers, my kids and I explored fluorescence in the kitchen by painting cakes with fluorescent edible (cream cheese) paint.” I am doing this ASAP!

Paula, in Belgium, presents arts and crafts using the art of  Carl Larsson at Books Etc.

Zoe Toft shared Stories in tune – The Magic Flute; Part 1 at Playing by the book, comments, “Tips on using picture books to introduce more classical music into your family home, with a roundup of retellings of Mozart’s Magic Flute”

“take the leaf of a tree…memorize the way it is fastened to the twig…crumple it in your hand…when there is no leaf left/invent one.” From Reply to the Question: “How Can You Become a Poet?” by Eve Merriam

Admit it, we are all writing something. Thankfully, several colleagues are there to help.

D.M. Cunningham sent ReSearching for the Story at Literary Asylum, with the comment, “When working on your children’s story, can you do enough research or too much? Is there a way to use that research to discover your story?”

Linda Benson shared Shelter Animals – Writing your Passion at Linda Benson, she says, “Writing about animals helps children develop compassion and animals find homes.”

Greg Trine provided Funny Words ? Building Blocks of Humor at Greg Trine’s Blog, saying, “Want to write funny books for kids? Start with funny words.” Greg Trine wants to know about your funny words.

Wendy Wax shared You Wrote a Children’s Picture Book –So NOW What? at Wendy Wax adding “Here are some children’s book writing tips from a children’s book editor/author/illustrator.”

“Dinosaurs get all the press/ in books and movies/on subway walls…” From “Prehistoric Praise” by Marilyn Singer

Book Reviews:

Sally Apokedak shared Weaving in Worldview ~ Wednesday Writers ~ Faery Rebels at Whispers of Dawn ~.”A discussion on how RJ Anderson wove her weltanschauung (worldview) into her book, Spell Hunter, without preaching.”

A.C.E. Bauer reviews Skim the YA graphic novel SKIM by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki at I’m working on it

A.C.E. Bauer also reviewed Tales from Outer Suburbia Shaun Tan’s wonderful and quirky YA picture book at I’m working on it.

Debra Black reviewed Tuck Everlasting at Book Reviews adding, “my review of Tucks Everlasting leads to the corresponding commentary.

Tammy Flanders reviewed Finding Violet in her piece entitled,  For the pure pleasure of it. at Apples With Many Seeds, sharing, “A recommendation for Finding Violet by Jenny Valentine. It’s all about connecting kids (especially those who see themselves as non-readers) to books. And finding a book with a unique premise and great characters can be what makes the difference in turning a non-reader to the other side. No connection to what is being taught in the classroom just a really great story. No strings attached.”

Robin Gaphni reviewed Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter at thebooknosher .

Becky Laney reviewed a retelling of Cinderella, Princess of Glass (MG/YA) by Jessica Day George at Becky’s Book Reviews,

Becky Laney also sent along a review of Farm by Elisha Cooper at Young Readers.

Aaron Mead discussed Harry Potter: Christian Allegory or Occultist Children’s Books? (Part 3) posted at Children’s Books and Reviews.

Eva Mitnick sent her Review of The Dreamer by Pam Muňoz Ryan at Book Addiction

Anastasia Suen presents 5 Great Mother’s Day Books at 5 Great Books adding “It’s almost time for that special day, Mother’s Day!”

Anastasia Suen also sent along a review for Good Night, Little Bunny at Read to Me sharing that it is “A sweet board book for bedtime.”

“The trees ask me,/And the sky,/And the sea asks me,/ Who am I?…The wind tells me/At nightfall, /And the rain tells me./ Someone small./…But a piece/of/it/all.” From “Who Am I?” by Felice Holman

Author/Illustrator Interviews:

Tarie talks with children’s book Author/Illustrator Interview: Grace Lin posted at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind.

Lori Calabrese discusses how You can accidentally become a novelist at Lori Calabrese Writes!, with fellow Indie-Debut 2010 author, Danika Dinsmore.

Barbara Bietz presents an interview with Debbie Levy, author of The Year of Goodbyes posted at Jewish Books for Children with Author Barbara Bietz.

Samantha Clark presents an Interview with new agent Bree Ogden at Day By Day Writer, adding, “In this interview, new Martin Literary associate agent Bree Ogden explains why she is specializing in children’s literature and graphic novels, her favorite books and the type of agent she will be.”

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: Such strange creatures!/ Huge tortoises, big enough for me to ride;…What amazes me most are the tiny finches./Each island’s finches have different beaks!” From “Journal Jottings of Charles Darwin” by Bobbi Katz


Sit at the SCBWI Booth with Angela Cerrito while she presents a view of  SCBWI Bologna 2010 at Angela Cerrito – “Illustrators and writers at the Bologna Rights Fair in Bologna, Italy.”

Angela Craft sent Book Thoughts: My Role as a Reviewer at Bookish Blather, her “response to the Huffington Post’s essay about negative reviews in the YA blogosphere”. In case you missed this, here is the original essay  entitled “Faking Nice in the Blogosphere: Women and Book Reviews“, and here is what our  Liz B. at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy had to say about it. [No, Liz did not send me her blog, I include it here because I think it is good and well worth reading.]

Wendie Old looks at iPad+Picture Books at Wendie’s Wanderings commenting “I have been amazed at the things people can do with the new iPad.  For example, in the blog post I’m linking to — I talk about how I’m going to have to completely re-write the ending of my Critical Essay about the history of Picture Book Biographies.”

Book Fairs Online? Having once had a book fair business myself, I am curious and interested in the idea Elizabeth Dulemba is sharing regarding Big Noodle Books at dulemba.

Throughout their May 2010 issue, Hunger Mountain, the Vermont College of Fine Arts Journal, will feature an exclusive, 2-chapter excerpt of Holly Cupala’s young adult novel, TELL ME A SECRET!  (article will be posted May 1)

Elizabeth Bird at A Fuse #8 Production released her Top 100 Children’s Novels. Charlotte’s Web was Number 1. Would you have guessed differently?

“Think of a circle   think/our planet/Earth/solid globe/spinning   holding us…” From “Circles” by Barbara Juster Esbensen

Additional News, Enquiring Minds Need to Know

Jen Robinson has a new baby – a girl.  Mazel Tov, Jen and Family! Understandably, she is taking a break from blogging, but says she will return soon. Jen, if there is something you need, other than books, please let us know.

Pam Coughlan at MotherReader could use our prayers. Her mother had a medical issue earlier this month. Pam does so much for this online community. I hope there is something we can do for her. Pam, we are holding you and your mother in our hearts.

There you have it,  the April edition of the Carnival. I want to thank Anastasia Suen for her support in helping me with this process. She is a blessing to the entire Kidlitosphere. Thanks, Anastasia! Next month’s Carnival host will be Homespun Light. Please submit your May blog article to the Carnival of Children’s Literature by using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. Thanks for stopping by.

Happy reading!

Kathy B.

Zachor/Remembrance: Remembering the Past Gives Power to the Present

April is a month filled with remembering. We entered it having just finished two Passover Seders recalling, perhaps in vivid detail, the Jewish people’s Exodus from Egypt and their transition from slavery to freedom.  On April 12, Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remembered the loss of 6 million Jewish lives in World War II during memorial services around the world.

This weekend, we will be remembering the soldiers and civilians who have died in the struggle for Israel’s independence on April 18, Yom HaZikaron–Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day. Israel’s Memorial Day is followed closely by Yom Ha’atzmaut-Israel’s Independence Day on April 20, when we remember – and celebrate – the date, now 62 years ago, when Israel became an independent nation.

Why so much remembering, you might ask? The first time we see and read the word Zachor in Torah is in the story of Noah:

“God then remembered Noah and all the beasts that were with him in the ark, so God caused a wind to sweep over the earth, and the waters subsided. “ (Genesis 8:1) In Torah, when God remembers, God also acts. God goes on to create a reminder – a memorial if you will – the rainbow: “And when I cause clouds to form over the earth, and the bow appears in the cloud, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living things, all flesh, and never again shall waters become a flood, to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:14-15)

When we remember – The Exodus story, the Holocaust, fallen soldiers, victims of terror or Israel’s independence – what should our action be?  Is it enough simply to attend a Seder, a memorial service, a celebration or is more expected of us? In God’s case, there was more. God created the rainbow as a sign, a reminder to God not to flood the earth again, a memorial to those who perished in the floodwaters. If God requires actions, reminders and memorials, don’t we as well?

When a loved one dies, how should we remember that individual who once had a significant impact on our lives?  When something wonderful and significant happens in our life, how do we remember what took place?

There are some wonderful books that teach us how to move through life’s ups and downs and find creative ways to help our children remember the significant moments of life whether it is the death of someone important to them or a major milestone. These are a few of my favorite titles:

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.  © 1988,  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-9. Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Readers.  A babushka and a dress are the only items that come from Russia with Anna. When she outgrows both, her mother uses the cloth to make a quilt. The quilt is used as a Shabbat tablecloth, a picnic blanket where Anna got engaged,  the chuppa for Anna’s wedding and a baby blanket for her children. The quilt followed the family and was present at all the births, weddings and even at Anna’s death. The quilt is now waiting for the arrival of the author’s grandchildren, Anna’s great-great grandchildren.  A beautiful story about memories and memorials as carried forward in a family quilt.

The Memory String by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Ted Rand. © 2000,  Clarion Books.  Ages 4-8.  Laura’s mother has passed down her memory string filled with buttons from the coats and dresses of generations of relatives in the family. Laura’s most special button is the little white one that was on her mother’s nightgown when she died three years ago. Her father has remarried and although Jane is nice enough, she isn’t Laura’s mother. To make sure she knows that, Laura pulls out her memory string a lot in front of Jane. When Laura’s cat breaks the memory string causing buttons to fly everywhere, everyone helps in the search, but one button remains lost. When Laura overhears Jane explaining to her father why that button is so important, she begins to think accepting Jane into her life may be a good idea after all.

The Milestones Project: Celebrating Childhood Around the World. Photography by Dr. Richard Steckel and Michele Steckel.  © 2004 Tricycle Press. All ages. Do you remember losing your first tooth? Getting your first haircut? What about your first pet? These are just a few of the milestones described in this wonderful book. In the words of kids themselves and from some of today’s most well known authors – Eric Carle, Cynthia Rylant and J.K. Rowling to name a very few – we read about the memories of major milestones and remember our own.

Monumental Verses by J. Patrick Lewis. © 2005 National Geographic Society. Ages 5-10. While I literally see God’s work in nature and all its grandeur, I find the creations of humankind to be amazing works of profound genius. More often than not, these buildings, statues and monuments created for some purpose, live on well past their intended function. They become icons, landmarks, historical treasures. Monuments to another time, we visit, stand in awe and take our pictures. Or maybe we write poems like these. Gorgeous photographs and beautiful poetry take you on an around the world trip to view some of the world’s most incredible sites with an entirely new perspective.

Talking Walls by Margy Burn Knight. Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien.  © 1992, Tilbury House, Publishers. Ages 5-10. One of my favorite books describing a few places on earth where humankind has lived, worked, prayed or suffered and left messages for generations to come. The effect is that no matter the time or our gender, faith, language or culture, people the world over create monuments to remember the important events in their lives. What is happening right now, in your life that you want to remember?

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death By Laurene Krasny Brown. Illustrated by Marc Brown. © 1996, Little, Brown and Company. Ages 4-8. In simple, yet direct language this book helps explain to young children what it means to be alive and what it means to be dead,  how we may feel after someone we know dies, what various faiths and backgrounds do when saying goodbye and how different traditions talk about the afterlife. The most important section of the book, however, is “Ways to Remember Someone,” as it provides a number of excellent ideas for young people to memorialize the person they have lost and find ways to move on.

These books will give you some ideas for creating those actions, reminders and memorials to remember important people or significant events in your family’s life and enable you to find ways to share stories and feelings about what those people and times meant to you as you look back over time.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were from my personal collection or my local library.
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א וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-נֹחַ, וְאֵת כָּל-הַחַיָּה וְאֶת-כָּל-הַבְּהֵמָה, אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ בַּתֵּבָה; וַיַּעֲבֵר אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ עַל-הָאָרֶץ, וַיָּשֹׁכּוּ הַמָּיִם. 1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;

Memories light the corners of my mind

Tomorrow, my husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. It really does seem like yesterday that the two of us were starting out together to make a life for ourselves. We have raised two incredible kids, moved up the coast and across the country, traveled the world, survived health crises, faced economic downturns, celebrated innumerable happy occasions, cried at the (fortunately) occasional sad circumstances and made friends around the globe. We are so very blessed.

Has it been easy? Heck no! Nothing worth doing ever is. Marriage is very hard work. It requires time, attention, patience and nurturing. Just like any living thing. However, along the way, you celebrate each milestone.

The milestones hold the memories of our time together.  The symbols of those milestones bring back the memories:

  • The ceramic gorilla purchased in Monterey during our 5th Anniversary weekend still sits on my desk staring at me with his loving eyes.
  • The necklace we purchased during our trip to Florence for our 25th wedding anniversary reminds me of the pasta, gelato, architecture, long walks, and beauty of Italy. Oh, when can we return?
  • And don’t forget the photographs! What would any occasion be without pictures to look back and remember what we looked like and where we were.

So, off we go to celebrate another milestone – 30 years! – I am not sure what symbol we will find to bring back the memories of this celebratory adventure. I am sure that whatever it is will remind me of days filled with laughter, love and an understanding that only 30 years together can grow.

Happy reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.

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