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.
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One Response to “Remember the Days…Zachor/Remembrance”

  1. [...] years after they have taken place. This may seem like a large undertaking, but with the benefit of a few good books, a few helpful questions and some fun activities, the task is not so difficult at [...]


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