After recommendations from several homeschooling parents online, I finally went out and bought the first book (chelek Alef) in the L’shon HaTorah series by Rabbi Yehudah Winder. As the title says – I’m in love.
Naomi is not so much in love as (I think) relieved that it’s on a level she can understand.
Though we only started the book today, and I haven’t seen the others in the series (there are 4, I believe), I think it’s safe to HIGHLY recommend this for English-speaking parents (even if they don’t know much Hebrew) who want their kids to understand Hebrew as seen in the Chumash or Siddur.
I have spent HOURS in the bookstore and seen DOZENS of Hebrew language and grammar books. This is perhaps the best I’ve seen. I love that it avoids the silly “beginning Hebrew” stories that most Hebrew books descend into: “Mi ba? Abba ba! Shalom, Abba!”
But, of course, it’s not meant to be a reader. But it WILL help your child read and understand. I plan to keep using Kriyah v’Od for the stories, vocabulary building and modern Hebrew terminology.
Though L’shon HaTorah is presumably “just” a dikduk (grammar) book, the book presents its information in a way that demystifies the language, building little by little so nothing is ever overwhelming. If your child knows something already, just go through it quickly. If your child is stuck, the book lets you slow down and just do one page at a time.
Book One (chelek Alef) has two units on prefixes, one unit on pluralization, and one review unit to sum it all up. Presumably, other books deal with suffixes, binyanim and more – all the stuff that the day school kids in my University of Toronto Biblical Studies course knew that I never learned in my paltry afternoon-school education. Book One also gently introduces many important Chumash vocabulary words.
There are a few basic formats for the activities in this first book:
Matching Hebrew and English by colouring in the letters (a nice change from drawing a line from one to the other, though you could do that instead, I guess, if your kid hated to colour):
Matching Hebrew and English by cutting and pasting (look closely and you’ll see that Naomi has pasted the English words onto the lines):
Matching Hebrew and English by writing a number in a box:
Matching Hebrew and English via multiple-choice:
The pages avoid the “busy-ness” of some Hebrew books, and I love the vast amounts of white space – the first pages have only a few letters on each page.
There’s also no cutesy clip art, which means it’s also timeless – so many books still on store shelves are clearly 70s and 80s relics, dated by their cheerful images of children in funny Israeli hats and triangular skirts – and it can be used by kids of any religious persuasion – no crazy-long peyos on the big-eyed frum boys.
It’s definitely worth the money, and I’m excited about beginning chumash together with the help of these books.
But then, that’s love for you – utterly head-over-heels, and I can’t wait for our next lesson.