The Voice of Bride & Groom…the song of children at play: Hachnasat Kallah/Celebrating the Wedding Couple
Our journey of discovery HaEilu D’varim – of the obligations without measure brings us to an interesting value: Hachnasat Kallah/Celebrating the Wedding Couple. We are asked to insure that a newly married couple starts their life together with a joyous celebration and everything they need to set up their house.
The marriage of two people committed to sharing a lifetime together is cause for a celebration. Children invited to this magical event bring energy, laughter and a sense of wonder as they ask their elders questions about the meaning of every rite and ritual, the relationship of this or that person to them and for information about weddings past, present and future. Offering children the opportunity to share blessings for the couple in the form of small drawings or written words is one way to make their presence even more meaningful.
The following books are wonderful examples of the joy children can bring to the mitzvah (good deed) of Hachnasat Kallah/Celebrating the Wedding Couple:
Grandma’s Wedding Album by Harriet Ziefert. Paintings by Karla Gudeon. © 2011. Blue Apple Books. Ages 4-7. Designed to look like a picture album, Grandma shows her grandchildren, Emily and Michael, “photos” from her wedding to Poppy describing how they met, got engaged and were married. The photo/paintings are joyful, beautiful and colorful. The back of the book lists wedding traditions from all over the world.
Nadia’s Hands by Karen English. Illustrated by Jonathan Weiner. © 1999. Boyds Mill Press. Ages 5-8. Nadia, a Pakistani-American girl, has been chosen to be the flower girl for her Aunt Laila’s wedding. This means her hands will be painted with lovely designs and flowers using dye called henna. Nadia worries that the dye will be on her hands when she returns to school following the wedding. How will she explain the red shapes and lines on her hands to her classmates?
Donovan’s Big Day by Lesléa Newman. Illustrated by Mike Dutton. © 2011. Tricycle Press. Ages 4-7. Donovan has a BIG job to do, but he has a lot of things to remember before he can get his BIG job done. After all, he is the ring bearer at the wedding of his two moms, so he better get up on time, eat his breakfast, stay clean, greet everyone…
Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding by Lenore Look. Illustrated by Yumi Heo. © 2006 Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Ages 4-8 years. How will Jenny be her Uncle Peter’s favorite girl if he is getting married? Jenny decides to do everything she can to stop the wedding so her Uncle will continue to love her most of all. The hilarious results may inspire playful kids, but they will learn a lot about Chinese wedding traditions in the process.
Wedding Flowers by Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Wendy Andeson Halperin. © 2002. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 6-9 years. This is Book 6 of the Cobble Street Cousins Series, although one does not have to have read the previous books to read this one. The cousins return to Cobble Street to help Aunt Lucy with her wedding to Michael.
Brenda Berman, Wedding Expert by Jane Breskin Zalben. Illustrated by Victoria Chess. ©2009. Clarion Books. Ages 6-9 years. Brenda Berman knows that a flower girl in a gold lamé dress with sparkly shoes makes any wedding special. Of course, when her Uncle Harry announces his engagement, Brenda is thrilled that her flower girl dreams have arrived. Unfortunately, the bride and her niece have other plans. Can Brenda save the day and plan the perfect wedding?
The Wedding Planner’s Daughter by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. © 2005. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 9-12 years. Twelve-year-old Willafred “Willa” Havisham has travelled everywhere with her mother , Stella, a first-class wedding planner. All she wants is to settle down somewhere and find a father. When it appears her wish may at last come true, disaster strikes and her mother packs their bags again.
Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary. © 1996. HarperCollins. Ages 11-14 years. Barbara’s sister, Rosemary has announced she is getting married. At first Barbara is very excited, but once the wedding plans begin, the world seems to center around Rosemary. Barbara and her younger brother, Gordy, are shoved to the side-lines. At least that is how they feel. Barbara begins to wonder, “What is so great about getting married anyway?”
Providing children with opportunities to observe how brides and grooms are nurtured by the community allows them to understand the delights and responsibilities of marriage from many points of view. This is a lesson we are never too young to acquire. Share this message a little more with the discussion questions and activities provided in the Speak Volumes Guide for this month.
©2012 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from publishers as review copies, my personal collection and my local public library.
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