Recommended Reading

Jewish children’s books – appropriate for secular, multicultural families and beyond…

Compiled by Rebekka Helford

Selecting children’s books can often be challenging, regardless of the subject matter. Finding books with Jewish themes that are consistent with the values of non-religious, progressive, and multi-cultural families might seem like a chore. We’re here to help. Here’s a handy list of recommended books. We use many of them in the Sholem Sunday School.


History, etc:

  • Sholom’s Treasure: How Sholom Aleichem Became a Writer; by Erica Silverman – Mordicai Gerstein – Farrar, Straus and Giroux – 2005
  • The wisdom bird: a tale of Solomon and Sheba, by Sheldon Oberman – Neil Waldman – Boyds Mills Press – 2000
  • Irena’s jars of secrets by Marcia K.Vaughan – Ron Mazellan – Lee & Low Books – 2011. (A picture book biography of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who helped save nearly 2500 Jewish children during the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II (Age 6-11)
  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 – Michelle Markel

Folk stories:

  • Dybbuk: A Story Made in Heaven – Francine Prose and Mark Podwal
  • The Golem – David Wisniewski
  • It Could Always be Worse – Margot Zemach
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat – Simms Taback (has an accompanying song!)
  • Kibitzers and Fools: Tales My Zayda Told Me – Simms Taback
  • A Sack Full of Feathers – Debby Waldman
  • Something from Nothing – Phoebe Gilman (same story as Joseph had a little overcoat, but slightly more religious)

Seasons:

  • The Shortest Day – Wendy Pfeffer (Winter Solstice)
  • We Gather Together – Wendy Pfeffer (Fall Equinox)
  • The Longest Day – Wendy Pfeffer (Summer Solstice)
  • A New Beginning – Wendy Pfeffer (Spring Equinox)
  • The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree – Gail Gibbons
  • El Libro de Las Estaciones/The Book of Seasons – Alice Provensen (English/Spanish)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

  • The Sneeches – Dr. Seuss
  • Yoko – Rosemary Wells

Shabbat/Shabbes:

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very Bad day – Judith Viorst (a day of rest from a week of tough days)
  • The Shabbat Box – Lesley Simpson
  • Sammy Spider’s first Shabbat– Sylvia Rouss

New Year Festival:

Rosh Hashanah

  • Even Higher! A Rosh Hashanah Story by I. L. Peretz – Eric Kimmel (Grades 2-5)
  • When the Chickens Went on Strike – Erica Silverman (Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur)
  • The Secret Shofar of Barcelona – Jacqueline Dembar Greene (Grades 2-5 – Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur)
  • Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah – Sylvia Rouss
  • Talia and the Rude Vegetables – Linda Elovitz Marshall

Yom Kippur:

  • Sorry – Jean Van Leeuwen
  • Tashlich at Turtle Rock – Susan Schnur & Anna Schnur-Fishman

Sukkot/Sukis:

  • Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot – Sylvia Rouss (has God language in it)
  • The House on the Roof: A Sukkot Story – David Adler (multicultural)
  • Night Lights: A Sukkot Story – Barbara Diamond Goldin
  • Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast – Jamie S. Korngold
  • Tikvah Means Hope – Patricia Polacco
  • Bubbe Isabella and the Sukkot Cake – Kelly Terwilliger

Hanuka/Khanike/Winter Solstice:

  • The Chanukah Tree – Eric Kimmel
  • Christmas Tapestry – Patricia Polacco (Hanuka/Xmas)
  • Elijah’s Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas – Michael J. Rosen and Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson
  • The Golem’s Latkes – Eric Kimmel
  • Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish – Emily Sper
  • Hanukkah, Shmanukkah – Esme Raji Codell (a Jewish re-telling of A Christmas Carol)
  • Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins – Eric Kimmel
  • Jackie’s Gift: A True Story of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Jackie Robinson – Sharon Robinson
  • The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming –Lemony Snicket
  • Light The Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And Christmas – Margaret Moorman
  • The Trees of the Dancing Goats – Patricia Polacco
  • Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah – Sylvia Rouss
  • Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama – Selina Alko
  • My Two Holidays: A Hanukkah and Christmas Story – Danielle Novack
  • A Confused Hanukkah: An Original Story of Chelm – Jon Koons
  • A Solstice Tree for Jenny – Karen Shragg
  • Lights of Winter – Lauren Conrad
  • Beautiful Yetta’s Hanukkah Kitten – Daniel Pinkwater
  • How I Saved Hanukkah Amy Goldman Koss (Author), Diane DeGroat (Illustrator)

Tu B’Shevat:

  • The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein
  • Grandpa and Me on Tu B’Shevat – Marji Gold-Vukson
  • Sammy Spider’s First Tu B’shevat– Sylvia Rouss
  • The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

Purim:

  • Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale – Barbara Diamond Goldin
  • The Recess Queen – Alexis O’Neill and Laura Huliska-Beith (a book about bullies)
  • Sammy Spider’s First Purim– Sylvia Rouss
  • Purim Play – Roni Schotter

Passover:

  • The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah – Leslie Kimmelman
  • The Matzo Ball Boy – Lisa Shulman (Passover)
  • Only Nine Chairs: A Tall Tale for Passover – Deborah Uchill Miller
  • Sammy Spider’s First Passover – Sylvia Rouss
  • Gittel’s Hands – Erica Silverman

Yiddish:

  • Beautiful Yetta the Yiddish Chicken – Daniel Pinkwater
  • Five Little Gefiltes – Dave Horowitz
  • The Big House – Itzik Kipnis
  • The Four Butterflies – Itzik Kipnis
  • Sereena’s Secret: Searching for Home – Rae Ann Harris and David Weintraub
  • Too Young for Yiddish – Richard Michelson (Ages 5-9)

Jewish culture/diversity:

  • Across the Alley – Richard Michelson
  • Chicken Sunday – Patricia Polacco (useful for Passover/Easter time)
  • A Grandma Like Yours/A Grandpa Like Yours – Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum & Barbara Bjornson
  • Jalapeño Bagels – Natasha Wing
  • The Keeping Quilt – Patricia Polacco
  • Mrs. Katz and Tush – Patricia Polacco
  • The Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister (diversity and acceptance)