Sit­ting Shiva

Erin Sil­ver, Michelle Theodore (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – May 30, 2022

Some top­ics are dif­fi­cult to broach with young chil­dren, and it is often these very issues that are the most impor­tant ones to address. Many care­tak­ers find the death of a close fam­i­ly mem­ber, espe­cial­ly that of a par­ent, dif­fi­cult to explain, espe­cial­ly the rit­u­als a child encoun­ters when a loss must be faced. At these com­pli­cat­ed and emo­tion­al­ly frag­ile moments or, even bet­ter, in advance of their occur­rence, a sen­si­tive, clear, accu­rate pic­ture book is a help­ful and sig­nif­i­cant tool in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with con­fused and griev­ing children.

Sit­ting Shi­va, by Erin Sil­ver, explains the Jew­ish mourn­ing peri­od in a gen­tle, easy-to-under­stand, car­ing man­ner. It is the sto­ry of a young girl and her father, who are sit­ting shi­va after her moth­er’s recent death. This sim­ple and acces­si­ble sto­ry, read with an under­stand­ing and sym­pa­thet­ic adult, will help a child under­stand this basic Jew­ish mul­ti-day mourn­ing cus­tom. The book is care­ful­ly phrased, evoca­tive­ly illus­trat­ed, and empha­sizes time spent with fam­i­ly and friends, shar­ing mem­o­ries, food, and comfort.

An end note explains more about grief, not­ing that oth­er reli­gions have mourn­ing rit­u­als as well and focus­ing on the com­mon idea of strength through com­mu­ni­ty, which is the uni­fy­ing hall­mark of them all.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions