On the day before school broke for Rosh Hashana, parents dropping their children off at Kindertots were greeted with a special surprise in the playground. Taking center stage, right in front of the play structure, were three long tables, covered in small piles of picture books, each pile tied with a colored ribbon.
Each set of books was a Rosh Hashana gift, from the staff of Kindertots, to a particular Kindertots family. Staff handpicked the books for each family, making sure that the books were appropriate for the ages and genders of the family’s Kindertots-aged children. Each family received a different set of books.
The books were by noted children’s authors, like Chani Altein, Brocha Goetz, and Dina Rosenfeld. They included classics like the “Yossi and Laibel” and “Toddler Experience” series, as well as others like “Messes of Dresses”, “Ten Tzedaka Pennies”, “The Sukkah That I Built” and so many more.
The books were intended to show appreciation and wish a Shana Tova to all the wonderful families who send their children to Kindertots, to promote literacy, and to encourage parents and children to read together.
The idea of giving books came from Patsy Rethore-Larson, an early childhood specialist from the Arizona Department of Education, who, on one of her visits to Kindertots, suggested it to Kindertots Director Morah Rachel Tuch as a way of promoting parent engagement.
“I really wanted families to feel that they are a part of the community,” said Morah Rachel Tuch, explaining why she wanted to give this gift. “We love to read in the preschool. We love the opportunity to imagine and create and have fun, and we wanted families to share in that joy of learning and reading together.”
Reading aloud to children is like magic. While watching movies or screens dulls the receptors in the brain, reading a physical book aloud to children while they look at the pictures makes their brains fire up and hum with activity. Reading aloud helps children learn to think, build language, develop social-emotional skills, and bond with their parents or whoever is reading them the story. It is also a great way to get rowdy or sulky children to calm down and recenter themselves. As Meghan Cox Gurdon, the children’s book critic for the Wall Street Journal, wrote in her 2019 book “The Enchanted Hour”, “If reading aloud were a pill, every child in the country would get a prescription.”
Accompanying the books was a beautiful card signed by each of the child’s teachers, as well as a Kindertots tote bag for the families to take the books home in.
Judging by the thank you notes that many families wrote to Morah Rachel Tuch, the books were a huge hit!
“On Rosh Hashana itself, the new books kept us calm and entertained for quite some time, and even yet again tonight, for the zillionth time, we have read all the books again and the excitement is still very much alive with all of my children,” wrote Mrs. Shoshana Suleymanova, who has two children in Kindertots.
At Kindertots, we are honored that we could give this gift to the families, and we hope the families will enjoy these books and will read them again and again!