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EKS Hebrew children's Bible stories: Joseph the Dreamer, Jacob's Travels, Lech Lecha, Noah's Ark, Rebecca, The Tower of Babel, and In the Beginning Review by Donna Campos

Adapted by Alison Greengard
IllustratorCarol Racklin-Siegel
EKS Publishing Co.
322 Castro Street
Oakland, CA 94607

These children's Bible stories, written in Hebrew and English, are a wonderful way to introduce children to the fantastic stories in Genesis. Adapted from the Hebrew Bible, each book includes a word-for-word translation, a complete glossary, and transliteration. Each book is 32 glossy pages with both English and Hebrew on each page. In order, the series titles are In The Beginning, The Tower of Babel, Rebecca, Noah's Ark, Lech Lecha (The Journey of Abraham and Sarah), Jacob's Travels, and Joseph the Dreamer. Because Hebrew is read from the right to the left, rather than left to right as we are accustomed to with English, these books have a right-to-left orientation. The books offer a wonderful introduction to Hebrew for children. The stories omit words or sentences in order to keep the language simpler. The literal translations are included at the end of each book.

Although a Glossary of words is included, there is no pronunciation guide to help the reader verbalize the story in Hebrew as they are reading. The Glossary includes a pronunciation guide for individual words and phrases, but without knowing the Hebrew language it would be incredibly difficult to flip back and forth from the story pages to the Glossary in order to "read" the story in Hebrew so that your child can enjoy listening to it. The Hebrew writing is fascinating, and children may want to attempt to write a few words in Hebrew after being introduced to the series. Although there are no homeschooling lessons to accompany the books, the wonderful illustrations may encourage art projects. For instance, the beautifully rendered animals in Noah's Ark may inspire children to make their own artwork of animals after reading the book. Lech Lecha includes a beautiful family portrait of an elderly Abraham and Sarah holding Isaac as an infant. And vivid colors and dramatic activity are creatively used to picture the excitement of creation in In The Beginning. An illustration of the words "I can't understand you!" in various languages in the Tower of Babel book could prompt children to research and decipher the various languages.

This series of Hebrew Bible stories offers the opportunity to view another language alongside English. Although it will not teach your child Hebrew, and is not intended to do so, it may spark an interest in an additional language, whether Hebrew or something else. The unique style of a book read from right to left is an immediate attention-grabber. We were fascinated by the interesting form of the Hebrew alphabet letters, and older children will appreciate the various words and phrases represented in the Glossary at the back of each book. Children could be encouraged to write various Hebrew words and phrases, as this could be the start of an interest in Biblical Hebrew. As a non-Hebrew-speaking individual, I wish pronunciations had been included within the story, perhaps beneath each series of Hebrew words for every line so that we could have read the Hebrew words aloud as a story. Our family enjoyed these books. If your family enjoys English/Spanish books, then you should equally enjoy an opportunity to read English/Hebrew books. This is a wonderful way to honor the Savior and enjoy a Biblical language in children's books. Sharing them with your family is an additional blessing.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2008