Jewish Book Month Ideas

Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California

Jewish Book Month

[Jewish Book Month ideas from many sources – reprinted with permission.]

SOME IDEAS (reported in 2005)

From ABIGAIL YASGUR, Director, Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

For 2005-2006 – “One People, One Book” — a city-wide reading program for the Los Angeles community – November 2005 through April 2006. The book for all to read and discuss: As A Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg.
From SUSAN DUBIN, Library Consultant, Off-The-Shelf Library Services, Northridge, CA

• Jewish Book Bingo: Make a bingo card with different types of Jewish books on it (Holiday story, Israel, Prayer, Judaic fiction, Holocaust, etc.). Participants win a prize for reading books in the categories to make a “Bingo”

• One Book/One People: Choose a good recent book and have everyone in the congregation read it. Then have a program to discuss the book.

• Special storytellers: Everyone Reads Jewish Books: Invite different members of the synagogue with different professions to come in and read a story to a class during Jewish Book Month. We have had rabbi, cantor, principal, crossing guard, member of city council, firefighter, police officer, custodian come and share a book.

• Jewish Storytelling festival: Have children sign up to tell a Jewish story. Model by sharing a story with them first. Then present several different retellings of Jewish stories or legends for students to retell in their own words.
From ARNA SCHWARTZ, Librarian, Temple Beth Am Pressman Academy Lainer Library, Los Angeles, CA

• Annual Book Mark Contest for grades 1 – 8. View the beautiful and creative results for 2005 on our website.
From ANDREA RAPP, Temple Librarian, Isaac M. Wise Temple, Cincinnati, OH

“SEFER SAFARI” – a 15-year old reading program for grades 1-3. As children fill up sticker cards for reading 10 books, they get a button and their picture taken holding a completed card. 10 books fill a card, and the Temple Brotherhood gives us $100 for each 18 cards filled. That’s the “incentive” – the kids are reading to add children’s books to our library; the books are inscribed as donated in honor of XXX grade in the year 20XX, etc. A bulletin board in the library displays the photos of the children with their completed cards.

Here’s a response to Andrea’s request for reading incentive programs on Ha-Safran, AJL’s electronic forum:
Create a puzzle in the form of a Jewish symbol of the State of Israel. Students get the pieces of the puzzle with spaces for their names and book titles. As they complete a book, they fill out the puzzle piece and add it to a giant outline of the puzzle – an enlarged replica that you have on display. A prize for students with the most pieces.
(Andrea did this with an Olympic theme — by classes in a day school. As each class added its piece, they saw what the picture was. A class got to add a piece (large oddly shaped piece) by reading XXX number of books or minutes.
From RACHEL KAMIN, Director, Temple Israel Libraries & Media Center, West Bloomfield, MI

Distribute a BINGO card. Each square has a genre of book, such as: Jewish folktales, historical fiction, Israel, biography, etc. Students get a sticker from the teacher (or parent’s initial) for each box as they finish a book. 5 in a row wins a prize. Some students fill whole cards. Instructions to parents encourages greater participation.
A variation is a tic tac toe card, where 3 in a row wins.
From PAULA FINE, Congregation Beth Israel, Milwaukee, WI

• School-wide Jewish Storytelling Fair. Parents volunteered to read or tell stories in locations around the building (some came costumed) and the classes visited each of these “stations” on a rotating schedule. There were traveling musicians in the building (again, parent volunteers) and a snack area, as well as book-themed decorations.

• Clergy write essays to be printed in the Bulletin about their favorite Jewish book and we had copies on display in the library, as well as a bulletin board where parents could write in their own favorite titles.

• Jewish Book Quiz in the Bulletin, with extra copies in the library, and the following month publish the answers (and sources) in monthly Library column.

• Bookmark and poster contests for the children in the school and book jacket displays.

• At one time we had three published authors in the congregation (Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun) and I sponsored a brunch and panel discussion featuring these writers, along with copies of their books provided by a local bookseller (also a member.)

OTHER IDEAS (reported in 2004)

From ELLEN COLE, Librarian, Temple Isaiah’s Levine Library, Los Angeles, CA

• “From Rain to Rainbows” – a hotly contested reading contest during Jewish Book Month.. Religious School students in grades 2 to 6 read for fun and prizes.

The contest theme, Noah’s Ark, introduces readers to dramatic biblical characters. For four months, students in the Noah’s Ark Reading Contest read “From Rain to Rainbows.” Students read any type of Jewish book at their grade level, then report on it to Librarian, Ellen Cole. Each book gives students a point toward prizes. Biblical stories count double. The more competitors read, the bigger they win. The competition has two divisions: picture books and chapter books. Contestants receive a theme folder in which to list their books and a poster on which to mark their progress with Jewish theme stickers. Posters exhort “Rise Above the Flood, Read!” Library class lessons compare the bible story with midrash on Noah

Five points board readers on the ark: they earn a certificate for a yogurt treat at a popular Temple Isaiah neighborhood shop.(The Bigg Chill) Ten points or more float readers under the rainbow : they win prizes at the special Religious School-wide assembly on Sunday February 27, 2005. Last year’s contest, the Colonial Roots Read, which celebrated the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish community in America, broke records. The winning reader in the picture book division read 99 books, the second place winner, 90! The winner in the chapter books read 47, and the second place reader, 44. This year the contest promises to set new heights. For Jewish Book Month, the Library encourages parents to read a Jewish book while their children read their contest books.

View photos of documents: Flyer to advertise contest; Rules for contest; Progress poster for stickers, and Folder to report on books’ read.
Local Authors — always a good Jewish Book Month program

• Local author, Hava Ben-Zvi, speaks at local synagogues, day schools, public schools, and senior groups about Eva’s Journey: A Young Girl’s True Story. The book, a memoir of Hava’s adolescence in German-occupied Europe, has received very favorable reviews. For more information, Contact Hava. Hava is the former Library Director of the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles.

• Other local authors attended our West Coast Children’s Literature Conference.