The Perfect Hanukkah Children's Book for Today's Anxious Times

What’s THE biggest message of 2020 we’ve been sharing with our kids?  

We have the power to take action to protect others.

That's always been true, of course, yet the message has never felt more resonant and powerful than now, as we explain to kids why we are wearing masks, keeping physcial distance, and avoiding crowds.

There’s been recent good news that two vaccine trials are showing promising results to prevent COVID, which, if they come to fruition, could go a long way to bringing relief to people worldwide.

With that on the horizon, this could be a good time to talk with young children about vaccines in a child-friendly way, and head off any anxiety they might have about shots and doctor visits.

“Children as young as kindergarten know when the adults in their lives are upset or worried about current events; they rely on those adults to model how to talk about sad and difficult things,” according to Professor Sivan Zakai at HUC-JIR.

She has found that kids as young as preschool-age pick up on what’s going on in their households. There’s a lot of ambient information coming through to them, and her work shows that it’s vital to establish a healthy dialogue about difficult subjects in order to promote a feeling of security for our kids.

Here’s one way to open such a conversation with young children, framed in the Hanukkah story.

Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor tells the story of a child who loves his baby sister and tries to protect her from danger around the house. But during a doctor visit during Hanukkah, Judah refuses to have his shot, convinced his toy shield can protect him from germs.  

It's a perfect vehicle for learning about what a vaccine is and what it's for, and how our actions can protect others, including young siblings who are too young to get vaccinated themselves.

As Judah's father explains in the story, it's just one more way we protect the people we love. The book helps young children understand why something slightly scary is still better than getting sick.

The Jewish Book Council review noted that "The story can be enjoyed year-round to help young readers gain some courage before their shots. It can also be used to discuss Pirkei Avot 4:1: 'Who is a hero, a gibor? The one who conquers his own fears.' "


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