The Bed­time Sh’ma: A Good Night Book

Sarah Ger­sh­man; Kristi­na Swarn­er, illus.
  • Review
By – October 6, 2011

The beau­ti­ful art­work and sim­ple lan­guage of this unique book for very young Jew­ish chil­dren pro­vides fam­i­lies with a sat­is­fy­ing bed­time rit­u­al with which to end the day. Sarah Ger­sh­man has adapt­ed the col­lec­tion of psalms, poems, and prayers of the Kri­at Sh’ma al HaMi­tah, into child-friend­ly vers­es that focus on themes of pro­tec­tion and prepar­ing for sleep. Short prayers of a few sen­tences are writ­ten in large print with lots of appeal­ing white space and accom­pa­nied by a peace­ful bed­time scene. For exam­ple, these few words are spread over three pages: 

My child, may you lay down gen­tly to sleep. And may God’s peace spread over you. May God who watched over those who were here long ago, watch over you. May God bless you and keep you safe. May God give you light when it is dark. May God help you grow and be happy.”

The accom­pa­ny­ing serene and love­ly art­work by Kristi­na Swarn­er, in hues of deep pur­ples and blues, along with the flow­ing type­face design, make this a tru­ly beau­ti­ful adap­ta­tion of the night­time Sh’ma, invok­ing tra­di­tion­al night­time bless­ings of peace and pro­tec­tion and help­ing to cre­ate a love­ly new fam­i­ly rit­u­al at bed­time. The author has includ­ed the adult ver­sion of the Kri­at Sh’ma al HaMi­tah in both Eng­lish and Hebrew at the end of the book. This engag­ing book won the 2008 Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award for Younger Read­ers from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries. Ages 4 – 8.

Lisa Sil­ver­man is direc­tor of Sinai Tem­ple’s Blu­men­thal Library in Los Ange­les and a for­mer day school librar­i­an. She is the for­mer chil­dren’s book review edi­tor of Jew­ish Book World.

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