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6 books to read with your kids this Tu B’Shevat

January 16, 2018

Tu B’Shevat literally means the fifteenth day of the Jewish month of Shevat. The name of this minor Jewish holiday is somehow very specific yet so vague. So don’t judge this little gem of a holiday by its name. Tu B’Shevat celebrates the birthday of the trees. This is not only a concept little ones can easily get behind (did someone say cake and party favors!?) but it is also accurate. It is the earliest time of year when trees in Israel could potentially bloom and begin their fruit-bearing cycle, so we use it to mark the birthday of all the trees. This is important because, according to ancient biblical law, there is a seven-year agricultural cycle; keeping track of the trees’ birthdays is necessary in order to observe this cycle.

Tu B’Shevat customs include eating fruit; specifically olives, dates, pomegranates, and figs, and saying the Schecheyanu if it is your first time eating them that season. But there’s nothing to say that you can’t incorporate your own twist on an old holiday. If you’d like to inspire your kids to appreciate and celebrate the gifts of trees with books, here are a few selections perfect for Tu B’Shevat.

1| The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein
This classic is the story of a tree who gives of herself to a little boy, who through the pages of the book, grows into a man. As he matures, the tree ages too, while continuing to give until she has nothing left to offer. Whether it’s a story of unrequited love, boundary issues, or friendship is up for interpretation. What we know for sure is it is a touching story.

2| The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

By Leo Buscaglia

This is a tender tale about the life cycle that will touch the hearts of young and old readers alike. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?” asks Freddie the leaf. “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade the old people, and the children. It’s been about colors in the fall. It’s been about seasons.”  says his wise leaf friend Daniel.

3| Our Tree Named Steve

By Alan Zweibel
A family names the tree in their yard Steve because that is how their youngest pronounces “tree” when she’s little. Steve holds their laundry, their swings, and their hearts, among other things—until he no longer can. This is a rich story of love, family, growing up, and letting go.

4| The Lorax

By Dr. Suess
Way before climate science was making headlines, Dr. Suess created this bright, funny, poignant tale. Depending on who is reading, it’s an entertaining, hopeful children’s story or a sharp social commentary rife with discussion points for older readers.

5| A Tree is Nice
By Janice May Udry
The illustrations are simple yet beautiful—and so is the message; Nature’s bounty is all around us. All we have to do is look. This Caldecott-Award winning book gently reminds us to appreciate the simple joy a tree provides.
6| The Tree

By Dana Lyons
Through beautiful illustrations and rhyme, this book tells the tale of a stately old fir tree being threatened by bulldozers. Bonus: It includes a list of bugs and species at the back for reference.

Categories:Kids | Tots

Pam Moore is a running coach, freelance writer, and a speaker, living in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two young kids. The author of "There’s No Room For Fear in a Burley Trailer," she dreams of completing her To Do list, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and sleeping in. Follow her adventures at her blog, Whatevs..., or connect on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

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