Making Hashem Proud – A Great Book For Kids

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Reading my kids the same books over and over can get tedious, and losing books checking books out from the library can get pricey.  So when I was contacted about doing a review of a kids’ book recently released by Artscroll, I was super excited.  The book is called Making Hashem Proud*, and it’s by Chaviva Krohn Pfeiffer, a daughter of the renowned storyteller, Rabbi Paysach Krohn.  The book is geared toward 4-8 year olds, and when I flipped through it, I noticed that the amount of words on each page was higher than what we usually read.  I was a little nervous. How would this pan out?  

Well, let me tell you.

First, I was thrilled that the topic of the book is the importance of making a Kiddush Hashem.  I am pretty much obsessed with teaching my kids that we should treat all people with respect, no matter how similar or different to us they may be.  And that we should act with common decency, which I try to model for them, by doing small acts of kindness like returning shopping carts to the corral, saying “thank you” to people in the service industry, and not talking on my cell phone while driving (on speaker is technically okay, but hand-held is a definite no-no).

This book is all about stuff like that, and through Pfeiffer’s engaging stories, kids can learn that how they act in public really does matter.  That doing mitzvos and being considerate to others is not only the right thing to do, but can have far-reaching effects.

Happily, the book was a huge hit with my kids.  They asked for it night after night, and they would excitedly flip through the pages until they found an illustration that piqued their interest, and then we would read that story.

I think their love for this book can be properly shown through the lack of quality pictures I have of us reading the book together.  Let me explain:  Before I wrote this post, I attempted to take a quality shot of me reading to them (it’s a pretty logical choice of image) , but when I asked my oldest to take a picture, he hastily took one shot before joining us on the couch to read!

bookone

I tried to take another one with a timer, but again, not really what I was going for.

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By then, my three-year-old was so engrossed in the stories that I wasn’t about to interrupt our quality time just to get the “perfect” shot.  We ended up reading the book until it was time for lunch.  Three or four stories, back-to-back.

Here are some of the scenarios presented:

  • What happens when a person dents someone’s car and no one’s around to see?
  • What happens when a homeowner finds a diamond ring that belonged to the previous homeowner?
  • What happens when the owner of a knish shop catches a young man stealing from him?
  • What happens when a group of boys from a local school go bowling?
  • What happens when someone gives a simple “thank you” to TSA employees at the airport?

The more I read this book to my kids, the more I like it.  It’s an important message to be teaching our children, and Making Hashem Proud does it well.  The book not only helps instill in my children the importance of treating others with respect and doing the right thing, it also provides a good reminder to myself.  It reveals how our behavior could impact those around us; how the impression we make on others could potentially lead to a pay it forward situation that we could never imagine.

Here’s to many happy readings of this book, and many more lessons learned.

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*Disclaimer:  I did get a free copy of the book, but that did not affect my opinion of it.  I would totally go buy it (if I didn’t already have it, obviously)  and I’m planning to buy a few copies as presents for friends and family.    

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14 thoughts on “Making Hashem Proud – A Great Book For Kids

  1. An important topic – I’m glad the book handles it well (I’m sure she comes by her writing talent honestly!).
    Too often, I’ve seen the idea of Kiddush Hashem used to smack kids (theologically, metaphorically) into behaving nicely so people will see frum kids behaving nicely (I think the Little Midrash Says book actually says this).
    Love your example of the “simple thank you.” Not so simple – not so common. I always tell my kids to thank people, “even if they’re doing their jobs to help you.” So important!

    • Basic derech eretz never goes out of style! As for any heavy-handedness in delivering a message, my philosophy is that we parents can always add or decrease the level of subtlety to suit our preferences. Well, at least until our kids are big enough to read along. And then it could always be food for discussion.

  2. Yiska Ben Avraham

    I clicked on the book picture and read some excerpts, and yes, it really is something! I hope it will make it over here to Israel by the time my daughter is old enough to read it with me :)

  3. oooh! I think I’ll order this one. We’re reading one with the older kids that our Aish rabbi recommended that covers some of the same things. The characters are always Moishe, etc. For me, with such a non-religious background, I tend to chuckle inside. (I know, I’m immature.) It’s just–who ever thought that’s what I’d be reading. My kids having been going to Chabad for ages so it’s no big deal to them. Wish I could remember the name of the book–but it’s in my oldest son’s room and he’s sleeping. It’s not a picture book . . . definitely more for older kids. But this might be better for my little two.

    • I totally get what you’re saying about the character names! For me, reading frum books can be a sociological opportunity to understand more about the frum culture that I didn’t grow up in, but that I am totally a part of now.

  4. Marla

    Interesting topic! I’ve looked at the excerpts from the book. I have to admit I didn’t like them all that much. Would I have liked to read similar stories to my child (imagining „Jewish“ being replaced by „Christian“ or something else)? I can’t quite put my finger on it – for me it was – maybe too much stress on „if you’re good, G’d likes you“ (which might imply: if you don’t manage to be good enough, G’d doesn’t like you, and also: with good deeds you can „buy“ G’ds good will – they don’t say that in the two stories I read, maybe they don’t even mean it, but it still came to my mind.)

    Also, I like to think of good deeds as a means to make the world a friendlier place, not to turn other people to (my own or any other) religion (as in the first story). (But perhaps that’s because I’m not a missionary kind of person altogether. ;-))

    I totally agree with the writers in that goodness has far-reaching effects, that’s certainly a good thing to teach children. And saying ‘thank you’ and returning shopping carts also is. :-)

    And: beautiful house indeed!

    • Marla

      …and another thing: for us, the library doesn’t really make life cheaper either… we don’t lose books, though, we’re just completely unable to return them on time. Argh.

      • Me too. I don’t know if we’ve ever actually lost a book, though currently there are two or three books that I am completely clueless about their location. Thankfully, we still have another renewal available, but I sure hope I can find them!

    • I hear what you’re saying, and I myself am not a fan of “do good deed x and result y will occur.” I do think it’s a good starting off point for discussion, though. Also, I think that while it would be ideal to encourage people to be nice for the sake of making the world nicer, maybe some people need a more tangible motivation. I don’t know. Just a thought.

      And thank you for the kind words on the house. :)

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