Tuesday, October 14, 2014

English Books for Toddlers in Israel

For parents who want their children to be bilingual English-Hebrew speakers, books for babies and toddlers are a must. There are a number of English books for babies and toddlers that you can easily find in Israel.

While the variety of English books in Israel is limited in general and depends upon the proximity to English-language communities, there are a number of English books for toddlers that Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim carry in their inventory. You can walk into both Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim and find Lucy Cousins’ Maisy the Mouse series, Dr. Seuss classics, and English translations of Israeli author Ami Rubinger’s works. You may even be able to find in Tel Aviv books that are currently popular in the United States, such as Sherri Dusky Rinker’s“Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.”

You will need to do the legwork though, visiting a number of branches of Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim from time to time as not all branches carry the same selections and the turnover of books can be slow. For an English book that seems to be a regular part of the two major chains' inventory, it might also be worthwhile to ask the store to order the book for you if the store does not have it immediately available.

Here are some English books for toddlers that I have found in multiple branches of Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim in the city and suburbs of Tel Aviv:

Ami Rubinger’s books in English (אמי רובינגר)

Ami Rubinger is a prolific, imaginative Israeli author and illustrator of children’s picture books. His picture books feature whimsical and delightfully absurd stories and illustrations. The books also have reoccurring characters. Many of his books that were originally written in Hebrew have been translated into English and are readily available in Israel. “Big Cat, Small Cat” (חתול גדול, חתול קטן), “Dog Number 1, Dog Number 10” (האו עד עשר), and “I Dream of an Elephant” (פילים בכל הצבעים) are all available in English in Israel.

Sandra Boynton’s books

Through well-written rhymes and comical illustrations, the animals of Ms. Boynton’s books introduce useful English vocabulary, expressions, and numbers. The books are witty and fun to read out loud. Popular titles in Israel include “The Going-to-Bed-Book” and “Moo Baa La La La.”

Maisy the Mouse books

The Maisy the Mouse book series hails from the United Kingdom and features cutesy drawings in primary colors with simple, useful British English text chronicling the adventures of Maisy and her animal friends. The books are available in Israel as board books and paperbacks. Some titles that I have easily found in Israel include “Maisy’s Train,” “Maisy’s Fire Engine,”“Maisy’s Bedtime,” and “Maisy’s Bathtime.”

Dr. Seuss books

Dr. Seuss is synonymous in the American English-speaking world with silly, bordering on absurdist, rhymes and illustrations. Many of the Dr. Seuss books are intended for new readers and thus have simple rhymes and a sing-song rhythm. The books are usually available in Israel as paperbacks. I have found “Hop on Pop” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” in Israel.

Biscuit books

Biscuit is an adorable puppy always ready for exploration. The text is simple and the illustrations are drawn in soft watercolors. While our family considers the Biscuit books to be סתם compared to the more engaging animals (and creatures) of Lucy Cousins, Sandra Boynton, and Ami Rubinger, the Biscuit books are easy to find in Israel and make for a pleasant enough addition to an English language home library. We have “Biscuit’s 123” in our home library.

For more information about finding English language books in general in Israel, including from bookstores, libraries, and book exchanges, see this site. Happy reading!

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