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Unit Study: Exploring Judaism

 

 

 

 

 

This list is our longest one to date, because every time I thought I’d requested all the library materials we’d need, I discovered another avenue we wanted to explore. These are stories of faith, wisdom, and wit. We read about the history of Judaism from ancient days to contemporary times, covering folktales and fairytales along with Holocaust accounts and high holy days. From the revitalization of Hebrew and the modern state of Israel, to influential Jewish-Americans, to tales contemplating the nature of God, these stories introduced us to the beauty of Judaism.

  1. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Jerusalem! by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  2. And Shira Imagined by Giora Carmi
  3. Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis and Dusan Petriĉić
  4. Because Nothing Looks Like God by Lawrence Kushner, Karen Kushner, and Dawn Majewski
  5. Benno and the Night of Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott and Josée Bisaillon
  6. The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco
  7. The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
  8. The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street by Ann Redisch Stampler and Francesca Carabelli
  9. The Cats of Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse and Wendy Watson
  10. Celebrate: A Book of Jewish Holidays by Judith Gross and Bari Weissman
  11. Make Challah Bread
  12. Chicken Man by Michelle Edwards
  13. A Concert in the Sand by Tami Shem-Tov, Rachella Sandbank, and Avi Ofer
  14. The Harmonica by Tony Johnston and Ron Mazellan
  15. The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale by Linda Leopold Strauss and Alexi Natchev
  16. Elisabeth by Claire A. Nivola
  17. Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser and Claire Nivola
  18. Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap by Deborah Bodin Cohen and Shahar Kober
  19. Watch Families of Israel
  20. Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride by Deborah Bodin Cohen and Shahar Kober
  21. Even Higher! A Rosh Hashanah Story by I.L. Peretz, Eric Kimmel, and Jill Weber
  22. Color Crayola’s Flag of Israel
  23. Gershon’s Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year by Eric Kimmel and Jon Muth
  24. God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Annette Compton
  25. Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade by Barbara Krasner and Kelsey Garrity-Riley
  26. Good Night Israel by Mark Jasper and Anne Rosen
  27. Color Crayola’s Happy Hanukkah Menorah
  28. Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky and Greg Harlin
  29. Here Is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays by Lesléa Newman and Susan Gal
  30. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman
  31. I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding during World War II by Marisabina Russo
  32. Israel ABCs: A Book about the People and Places of Israel by Holly Schroeder and Claudia Wolf
  33. It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach
  34. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  35. Journeys with Elijah by Barbara Diamond Goldin and Jerry Pinkney
  36. The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
  37. Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed by Lesléa Newman and Amy June Bates
  38. Kibitzers and Fools: Tales My Zayda Told Me by Simms Taback
  39. King Solomon and the Bee by Dalia Hardof Renberg and Ruth Heller
  40. The Language of Angels: A Story about the Reinvention of Hebrew by Richard Michelson and Karla Gudeon
  41. Latke the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fischer and Tiphanie Beeke
  42. The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman and Paul Meisel
  43. The Longest Night: A Passover Story by Laurel Snyder and Catia Chien
  44. Lotsa Matzah by Tilda Balsley and Akemi Gutierrez
  45. Maccabee! The Story of Hanukkah by Tilda Balsley and David Harrington
  46. More than Enough: A Passover Story by April Halprin Wayland and Katie Kath
  47. The Mouse in the Matzah Factory by Francine Medoff and David Goldstein
  48. My First Chanukah by Tomie dePaola
  49. My First Passover by Tomie dePaola
  50. My Very Own Haggadah: A Seder Service for Young Children by Judyth Robbins Saypol, Madeline Wikler, and Chaya Burstein
  51. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco
  52. Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim: A Passover Story by Deborah Bodin Cohen and Jago
  53. Netta and Her Plant by Ellie Gellman and Natascia Ugliano
  54. Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard Simon, Tanya Simon, and Mark Siegel
  55. The Peddler’s Gift by Maxine Rose Schur and Kimberly Bulcken Root
  56. A Picture Book of Anne Frank by David Adler and Karen Ritz
  57. Psalm Twenty-Three by Tim Ladwig
  58. Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons by Alice B. McGinty and Jennifer Black Reinhardt
  59. Raisel’s Riddle by Erica Silverman and Susan Gaber
  60. The Rooster Prince of Breslov by Ann Redisch Stampler and Eugene Yelchin
  61. The Sabbath Lion: A Jewish Folktale from Algeria by Howard Schwartz, Barbara Rush, and Stephen Fieser
  62. A Sack Full of Feathers by Debby Waldman and Cindy Revell
  63. Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah by Sylvia Rouss and Katherine Janus Kahn
  64. Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah by Sylvia Rouss and Katherine Janus Kahn
  65. Sammy Spider’s First Shabbat by Sylvia Rouss and Katherine Janus Kahn
  66. Sammy Spider’s First Shavuot by Sylvia Rouss and Katherine Janus Kahn
  67. Sammy Spider’s First Yom Kippur by Sylvia Rouss and Katherine Janus Kahn
  68. Shmulik Paints the Town by Lisa Rose and Catalina Echeverri
  69. Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost by Ann Redisch Stampler and Jacqueline Cohen
  70. Snow in Israel by Deborah da Costa, Cornelius Van Wright, and Ying-Hwa Hu
  71. Stork’s Landing by Tamii Lehman-Wilzig and Anna Shuttlewood
  72. This Is Israel by M. Sasek
  73. The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking through Anne Frank’s Window by Jeff Gottesfeld and Peter McCarty
  74. The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition by Nina Jaffe and Louise August
  75. Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah in Chelm by Linda Glaser and Aleksander Zolotic
  76. The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren and Fabio Santomauro
  77. Willy & Max by Amy Littlesugar and William Low
  78. The Wooden Sword by Ann Redisch Stampler and Carol Liddiment
  79. The Wren and the Sparrow by J. Patrick Lewis and Yevgenia Nayberg
  80. Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams and Chiara Fedele
  81. Yuvi’s Candy Tree by Lesley Simpson and Janice Lee Porter
  82. The Yankee at the Seder by Elka Weber and Adam Gustavson
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Living History in Plimoth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For one of American history units, I framed our travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts and our visit to Plimoth Plantation’s museum with literature about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. This list includes stories about the Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving, but I’ve also strived to move beyond the ubiquitous narratives; in particular, I wanted to emphasize the rich cultural tradition of the Wampanoag people before colonialism and the continuation of that tradition through the present day. This list includes descriptions of the Mayflower voyage; details about the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving; and history, legends, biographies, and contemporary accounts of the Wampanoag. These selections highlight the complexity of living history.

  1. Across the Wide dark Sea: The Mayflower Journey by Jean Van Leeuwen and Thomas B. Allen
  2. The Children of the Morning Light: Wampanoag Tales by Manitonquat and Mary F. Arquette
  3. Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition by Russell Peters and John Madama
  4. Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear: Stories from Native North America by Joseph Bruchac
  5. If You Lived at the Time of Squanto by Anne Kamma and Pamela Johnson
  6. If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma and Bert Dodson
  7. The Mayflower by Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac
  8. Native Peoples of the Northeast by Barbara Linde
  9. North American Indian by David Murdoch
  10. On the Mayflower by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  11. People of the Breaking Day by Marcia Sewall
  12. The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves
  13. Pilgrims: Fact Tracker by Mary Pope Osborne Natalie Pope Boyce and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Susan E. Goodman
  15. The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern and Elroy Freem
  16. The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving from A to Z by Laura Crawford and Judith Hierstein
  17. Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  18. Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  19. Spotlight on Native Americans: Wampanoag by Joseph Stanley
  20. Squanto: 1585?-1622 by Arlene Hirschfelder
  21. Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac and Greg Shed
  22. The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross and Carolyn Croll
  23. Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  24. Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  25. The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh and Helen Sewell
  26. Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson and Matt Faulkner
  27. This is the Feast by Diane Shore and Megan Lloyd
  28. Thunder from the Clear Sky by Marcia Sewall
  29. The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Susan Gaber
  30. Wampanoag by Barbara Gray-Kanatiiosh
  31. The Wampanoag: The People of the First Light by Janet Riehecky
  32. The Wampanoag and Their History by Natalie M. Rosinsky


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Wabi Sabi: A Japanese List

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My younger daughter says her favorite thing about our unit study of Japan was the rice, providing further confirmation that we’re in it for the food. We did go out for Japanese food during this study, practicing with chopsticks and sampling sushi. My older daughter says she loved learning about all the different festivals and holidays in Japan, and these books certainly cover those topics as well. They also fell in love with Totoro in their introduction to anime. As you can see, this list does what I strive to do with all of our place-based unit studies: get a sense of the culture through history, folklore, fairy tales, contemporary accounts, food, music, crafts, and geography. This list showed us loyal animals, origami, wise rulers, everyday families, and, yes, rice. It’s the next best thing to travel!

  1. All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Willamarie Moore and Kazumi Wilds
  2. Chibi: A True Story from Japan by Barbara Brenner, Julia Takaya, and June Otani
  3. Cooking the Japanese Way by Reiko Weston
  4. Color Crayola’s Japanese Flag and Map
  5. The Culture and Crafts of Japan by Miriam Coleman
  6. Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan
  7. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  8. The Emperor’s Plum Tree by Michelle Nikly and Elizabeth Shub
  9. Erika-San by Allen Say
  10. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Pamela Turner and Yan Nascimbene
  11. I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi
  12. Watch Families of Japan
  13. The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent
  14. Japan by C.I.A.’s World Factbook
  15. Japan: Tradition, Culture, and Daily Life by Michael Centore
  16. Japanse Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! by Betty Reynolds
  17. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade and Yoshisuke Kurosaki
  18. Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
  19. My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown and Aya Padrón
  20. My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe
  21. Watch My Neighbor Totoro
  22. Night of the Ninjas by Mary Pope Osborne
  23. Ninjas and Samurai by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Bryce
  24. Make an Origami Crane
  25. Watch Ponyo
  26. The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich
  27. Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan by Eric Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein
  28. Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young
  29. The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb IIjima and Paige Billin-Frye
  30. Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds


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Earth, Moon, and Stars

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[Disclaimer: Based on my daughter’s artwork, above, an asteroid will obliterate the earth, rendering this list unnecessary.]

This list repeats a little of “Our Place in Space,” but it’s primarily an extension of that content because my kids are really into space. In addition to using some great, clear nights to use our telescope, we developed this list to enhance our understanding of space with stories about the earth, moon, and stars. Some of the texts are scientific non-fiction; others are myths and legends; others still are historical and biographical. I love the way these different kinds of stories intersect across disciplines and reveal so many different perspectives of the world, our place within it, and our role in the big picture of space.

 

Earth

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids by Seymour Simon

Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That: Space is the Place

Destination: Space by Seymour Simon

The Earth Is Painted Green: A Garden of Poems about Our Planet edited by Barbara Brenner and illustrated by S. D. Schindler

Earth: Our Planet in Space by Seymour Simon

Earth Tales from Around the World by Michael J. Caduto and Adelaide Murphy Tyrol

First Earth Encyclopedia by DK Publishing

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Watch Nutmeg Media’s Living Sunlight

On Earth by G. Brian Karas

Our Solar System by Seymour Simon

Planet Earth/Inside Out by Gail Gibbons

Watch DK Eyewitness’s Planets

The Planets by Gail Gibbons

Saturn by Seymour Simon

What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn M. Branley and Arthur Dorros

You’re Aboard Spaceship Earth by Patricia Lauber and Holly Keller

What’s So Special about Planet Earth? by Robert E. Wells

 

Moon

Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann

Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher and Kate Kiesler

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay

If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty and Steven Kellogg

The Man Made of Stars by M. H. Clark and Lisa Evans

The Moon by Seymour Simon

Moon by Steve Tomecek and Liisa Chauncy Guida

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

Moonday by Adam Rex

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

Phases of the Moon by Gillia M. Olson and Jo Miller

Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons by Joseph Bruchac, Jonathan London, and Thomas Locker

What the Moon is Like by Franklyn M. Branley and True Kelley

 

Stars

How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend by Jerrie Oughton and Lisa Desimini

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Jump into Science: Stars by Steve Tomecek and Sachiko Yoshikawa

Our Stars by Anne Rockwell

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee

The Sun: Our Nearest Star by Franklyn M. Branley and Edward Miller

 


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When Irish Eyes Are Reading

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For our study of Ireland, we listened to a lot of toe-tapping tunes and fancied finding wee folk all over. As with all of our place-based units, there’s a mixture here of folklore and history. We made connections to our own family background and our region’s Irish influences, not to mention finding a new bread recipe we love. I got to share one of my favorite childhood movies with my girls and found a new and enchanting film for us all. Our exploration of The Emerald Isle was filled with wonder, but the real magic, as always, is in the journey-by-book.

  1. Brigid’s Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan and Helen Cann
  2. Watch Darby O’Gill and the Little People
  3. Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco
  4. Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman and Kelly Murphy
  5. Great Irish Legends for Children by Yvonne Carroll and Robin Lawrie
  6. “Ireland” by CIA World Factbook
  7. Color the flags of Ireland and Northern Ireland by Crayola
  8. The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo and Loretta Krupinski
  9. Irish Fairy Tales edited by Philip Smith
  10. Bake Irish Soda Bread
  11. Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie dePaola
  12. Leprechaun in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  13. Leprechauns and Irish Folklore by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Bryce, and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole
  15. Leprechauns on the Loose: An Adventure in Ireland by Disney’s Small World Library
  16. The Long March: The Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  17. O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott
  18. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
  19. The Prince of Ireland and the Three Magic Stallions by Bryce Milligan and Preston McDaniels
  20. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Celtic Crossroads
  21. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Women of the World, Celtic
  22. S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet by Eve Bunting and Matt Faulkner
  23. Watch The Secret of Kells
  24. This is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek
  25. Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk: An Irish Tale by Gerald McDermott
  26. Viking Ships at Sunrise by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca


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Here Be Dragons

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Both of my children adore stories about mythical creatures; it’s part of their inheritance, right along with their dimples. Few such beasts are as impressive and breathtaking as dragons, and the list here showcases those creatures’ cunning as well as their sillier sides. These stories cross cultures to show different perspectives on dragons, who don’t always breathe fire and sometimes intertwine with saints’ tales. I will note that, despite my four-year-old’s love of dragons, I put few films on this list because of the intense images that so many of those movies contain. We stuck mostly to text, instead, where we relied on our imaginations, aided by timeless tales and exquisite illustrations, to bring these beasts to life.

  1. Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  2. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  3. The Dragons Are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky and Peter Sis
  4. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
  5. The Dragon Snatcher by M. P. Robertson
  6. The Egg by M. P. Robertson
  7. Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
  8. How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
  9. Watch How to Train Your Dragon
  10. Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn and Kelly Murphy
  11. Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang and Chong Chang
  12. King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bentley and Helen Oxenbury
  13. The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola
  14. Me and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki
  15. Merlin and the Dragons by Jane Yolen and Li Ming
  16. No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Jean Pendziwol and Martine Gourbault
  17. Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el and Tim Bowers
  18. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko
  19. The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer and Lisa McGue
  20. Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman
  21. The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash and Lynn Munsinger
  22. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent
  23. Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen and Derek Anderson
  24. Where’s the Dragon? by Richard Hook and Jason Hook


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Plant Reads, No Green Thumb Required

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By now the bunnies have eaten most of our kale; clearly, we do not have a rabbit-proof fence. But even the process of failing to garden teaches us a lot about gardening. In addition to reading and watching the items on this list, we’ve spent a lot of time in the dirt, befriending the worms and dropping in seeds with a hope and a prayer. It’s clear to my children that my father has a green thumb and I do not, yet we’re persevering with patience. We made terrariums to observe the water cycle and started some of our seedlings safely indoors. These resources helped us appreciate the process of gardening and understand the earth as the source of our food. And, hey, there’s still hope for the squash….

  1. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
  2. Watch DK Eyewitness Plant
  3. From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
  4. How a Seed Grows by Helene Jordan and Loretta Krupinski
  5. Jack and the Beanstalk by Paul Galdone
  6. The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book about How Living Things Grow by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
  7. Oh Say Can You Seed? All About Flowering Plants by Bonnie Worth and Aristides Ruiz
  8. The Plant Hunters by Anita Silvey
  9. Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  10. A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
  11. Seed to Plant by Kristin Baird Rattini
  12. Watch Dinosaur Train’s Tiny’s Garden
  13. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
  14. Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal