The importance of education and learning is summed up by the value Arriving Early for Study (Hashkamat Beit Hamidrash). Learning is one of the hallmarks of the Jewish people, and it starts with our children. Curious by nature, we can continually encourage our own kids to ask questions about things they see, hear, experience and more. Questioning is a fundamental part of the Jewish learning experience, and the following books that embrace education and allow us to dig into several wonderful questions are a great way to explore this value as a family.

created at: 2011-11-17Wow! School!” by Robert Neubecker. Ages 3-6. Explore school with Izzy as she experiences the wonder and delight of a day in the classroom. From learning the alphabet to singing to making new friends to story time, school is a fun-filled and exciting time. The bold, bright, colorful pictures practically shout a good time!

Discussion Questions:

  • When you walk into Izzy’s classroom, what’s the first thing you want to do?
  • During art time, one of the students is showing you her painting. What would you say to her?
  • What would you bring for lunch to school? (Tell your child what you used to eat for lunch at school.)
  • Sing “The Wheels on the Bus” song together.
  • How many rabbits did you count?
  • What was your favorite page in this book?

created at: 2011-11-17Sammy Spider’s First Day of School” by Sylvia A. Rouss. Ages 3-6. Sammy Spider goes to school with Josh, listens to the story of Noah’s Ark and escapes being hurt when the children learn about being kind to animals.

Discussion Questions:

  • Have you ever seen a spider at your school? Talk about your reaction.
  • What would it be like to have a spider for a pet? How would you take care of it?
  • Try making the banana-and-animal-cracker Noah’s ark snack. Have your child sort the animal crackers into pairs before putting them on the banana slice.
  • Would you let a spider crawl on your hand? What do you think it would feel like?

created at: 2011-11-17Wolf!” by Becky Bloom. Ages 4-8. Wolf is tired and hungry, but is totally ignored by the farm animals engaged in reading their books. In order to be taken seriously, he must get an education, which he does, with surprising results.

Discussion Questions:

  • Why do the duck, cow and pig ignore the wolf when he’s coming to their farm to eat them?
  • How would you feel if a wolf came into your classroom to learn to read and write?
  • Even when the wolf learns to read, the farm animals continue to push him to improve. Why?
  • Tell this story in your own words as dramatically as you can.

created at: 2011-11-17The Art Lesson” by Tomie dePaola. Ages 4-8. Tommy plans to be an artist when he grows up, but how will that happen if he only gets one piece of paper during art class, can’t use his own box of 64 Crayola crayons and has to copy the pictures the art teacher draws?

Discussion Questions:

  • What is your most favorite thing in the world to do?
  • How did you learn/are you learning to do this? Did someone teach you? Did you practice?
  • How do you think Tommy felt when he looked past his teacher and spoke right to Mrs. Bowers?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Write this down on a piece of paper (or have someone help) and draw a picture of yourself. Date it and put it in an envelope. Put the envelope in a safe place where you will remember to look at it in 10 years!

Arriving Early for Study is a value we practice every day, whether we know it or not! It happens when we teach our kids how to do something new, when we read about something interesting and even as we explore this newsletter and find meaningful ways to connect with our children.

Happy reading!