"People of the Books" Blog

Love Your Neighbor: Book List #3 The American Jewish Experience

In response to the tragedy at the synagogue in Pittsburgh and to rising anti-Semitism in the United States, the Association of Jewish Libraries offers this series of book lists for young readers. Books read in youth impact future outlooks, and it is our hope that meeting Jews on the page will inspire friendship when readers meet Jews in real life.  This is the third in a series of book lists intended to provide children and their families with a greater understanding of the Jewish religion and its people.


List #3 features books about Jewish life in the United States of America, from the earliest days to the present time. Click here to access the list in printable PDF format, or scroll down to read the list below. Look for these titles in libraries, bookstores, and online, and watch www.jewishlibraries.org for the final forthcoming book list from the Love Your Neighbor series.

 

PICTURE BOOKS

 

Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Greg Harlin, Dutton, ages 5-10

A soldier tells George Washington the miraculous story of how a ragtag army of Jewish soldiers defeated a much larger force of powerful Greeks, a providing just the kind of inspiration the General needs.  Based on a true story.

 

The Legend of Freedom Hill by Linda Jacobs Altman, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright, Lee & Low, ages 6-9

During the California Gold Rush Rosabel, an African- American Christian girl, and Sophie, a white Jewish girl, team up and search for gold to buy Rosabel's mother her freedom from a slave catcher.

 

The Yankee at the Seder by Elka Weber, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Tricycle Press, ages 7-10

A Jewish Yankee soldier joins a Southern family’s Passover meal, showing how common values can overcome even the most divisive differences. Gathered around the seder table, the group discusses what it means to be free--a subject as relevant today as it was during the War between the States and during the Exodus. Based on a true story.

 

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Balzer + Bray, ages 5-9

Clara Lemlich, a young Jewish immigrant, led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history to protest mistreatment and terrible working conditions.

 

God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin by Adah Nuchi, illustrated by Rob Polivka, Hyperion, ages 4-9

This is the true tale of how a Jewish former refugee gave America one of its most celebrated patriotic songs.

 

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross MacDonald, Knopf, ages 8-12

Cleveland Jewish teens Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the all-American character of Superman for comic books during the Depression. This picture book biography mixes comic panels with fascinating facts.

 

Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Jim Starr, Apples & Honey, ages 4-8

A new Jewish folk hero, Big Sam, joins the likes of Paul Bunyan for a tall tale that incorporates the American landscape into a story of fixing your mistakes and protecting the environment.

 

Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez, Knopf, ages 7-10

A moving biography of the late Leonard Nimoy, the Jewish actor who played the iconic Mr. Spock on Star Trek, whose story exemplifies the American experience and the power of pursuing your dreams.

 

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher, Viking, ages 7-10

In lovely verse, Pinkney dives into the life and work of Jewish author Ezra Jack Keats, focusing on his classic picture book The Snowy Day and his creation of the African-American main character, Peter.

 

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, Simon & Schuster, ages 4-10

Jewish Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life story is told through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

 

CHAPTER BOOKS


All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, Yearling, ages 8-12

This first book in a classic series lovingly depicts a turn of the century Jewish family on the Lower East Side, experiencing universal American institutions like the public library, the Fourth of July, and Coney Island alongside their unique religious practices.

 

Viva, Rose! by Susan Krawitz, Holiday House, ages 8-14

Rose and her family are Russian Jewish immigrants living in El Paso, TX, in the early 1900s. Rose’s brother Abraham runs away to join Pancho Villa's army, and her sisterly rescue attempt goes awry in this exciting novel based on the author’s family history.

 

Dreidels on the Brain by Joel Ben Izzy, Dial, ages 10-14


In 1971, Joel, a dorky 12-year-old Jewish Californian, aspires to be a magician. His tumultuous Hanukkah is the worst and best of times in this heartwarming story.

 

This Is Just a Test by Wendy Wan-Long Shang & Madelyn Rosenberg, Scholastic Press, ages 9-13


It's 1983, and David's got worries: his impending bar mitzvah, his constantly competing Chinese and Jewish grandmothers, the cute girl who makes him nervous, and his popular new friend, who dislikes David's longtime best friend—plus, it's the height of the Cold War, and nuclear annihilation could hit at any second. 

 

When Hurricane Katrina Hit Home by Gail Langer Karwoski, illustrated by Julia Marshall, The History Press, 8-12 years


Jewish Chazz and African-American Lyric share courage and compassion as they help each other make it through the chaos in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

 

Queen of Likes by Hillary Homzie, Aladdin, ages 9-13


Jewish 7th grader Karma is a social media celebrity until her parents confiscate her phone. She struggles to learn how to live unplugged in this timely and funny novel.

 

Love Your Neighbor: Book List #2 Synagogues, Clergy & Jewish Ritual

In response to the tragedy at the synagogue in Pittsburgh and to rising anti-Semitism in the United States, the Association of Jewish Libraries offers the Love Your Neighbor series of book lists for young readers. Books read in youth impact future outlooks, and it is our hope that meeting Jews on the page will inspire friendship when readers meet Jews in real life.  This is the second in a series of book lists intended to provide children and their families with a greater understanding of the Jewish religion and its people.


List #2 features books for children and teens that take place in synagogues, that feature rabbis and other clergy, and that demonstrate a variety of Jewish rituals. Click here to access the list in printable PDF format, or scroll down to read the list below. Look for these titles in libraries, bookstores, and online, and watch www.jewishlibraries.org for forthcoming book lists from the Love Your Neighbor series.

 

PICTURE BOOKS

 

The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Good Night Book by Sarah Gershman, illustrated by Kristina Swarner, EKS Publishing, ages 3-6

This beautifully illustrated adaptation of a traditional good night blessing is a wonderful introduction to one of the oldest and most fundamental of Jewish prayers.

 

Bubbe's Belated Bat Mitzvah by Isabel Pinson, illustrated by Valeria Cis, Kar-Ben, ages 4-8

When Naomi convinces her 95-year-old great-grandmother that it’s not too late to participate in Jewish communal ritual by becoming a Bat Mitzvah, all the cousins pitch in to help Bubbe study with the rabbi and celebrate her big day at the synagogue. Based on a true story.

 

Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg, Kar-Ben, ages 5-8

Second-century sage Rabbi Akiva learned to read at the age of 40 with the encouragement of his wife, and went on to become a great scholar. This is an inspirational tale of perseverance and loyalty.

 

In God's Hands by Lawrence Kushner & Gary Schmidt, illustrated by Matthew J. Baek, Jewish Lights, ages 5-8


The rich man’s hands bake the bread and place them in the synagogue, and the poor man’s hands receive the bread. But it’s God’s hands that created the connection between them. Based on a traditional folk tale.

 

New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Wayland, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch, Dial, ages 5-8

Izzy’s favorite part of Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich, a joyous ceremony in which people apologize for the mistakes they made in the previous year and thus clean the slate as the new year begins. The rabbi and cantor accompany their congregation outdoors to symbolically toss their sins into the water. 

 

How It's Made: Torah Scroll by Allison Ofanansky, photographs by Eliyahu Alpern, Apples & Honey Press, ages 6-9

More than 100 full-color photographs and interviews give a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at scribes, artists, and craftspeople who work with parchment and gallnut ink to hand-create Torah scrolls, Judaism’s holiest text. The newest book in the series is How It’s Made: Hanukkah Menorah.

 

What You Will See Inside a Synagogue by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman & Dr. Ron Wolfson, photographs by Bill Aron, Skylight Paths, ages 6-10

Full-page photos and informative descriptions explain what happens in a synagogue, the ritual objects used, and the roles played by clergy. This comprehensive primer makes understanding Judaism easy.

 

Regina Persisted: An Untold Story by Sandy Esienberg Sasso, illustrated by Margeaux Lucas, Apples & Honey Press, ages 8-12

In 1935, after years of hard work and struggle, Regina Jonas became the first woman ever ordained as a rabbi. Her story inspires us to pursue our dreams and to persist even in the face of great challenges.

 

CHAPTER BOOKS


Wise and Not So Wise: Ten Tales from the Rabbis by Phillis Gershator, The Jewish Publication Society, ages 7-11


These folktales use the teachings of ancient rabbinic sages to answer questions and teach moral lessons, using humor, wonder, and magic.

 

All Three Stooges by Erica S. Perl, Knopf, ages 10-13


Middle schooler Noah deals with the suicide of a beloved adult, the estrangement of his best friend, and his upcoming bar mitzvah all at the same time. A kindly rabbi and supportive Hebrew School help him learn to cope in a genuine and even humorous way.

 

Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Darer Littman, Dutton, ages 10-13


Justine’s family gives her confusing messages about how to be Jewish, so she sets out on an exploration of Catholicism, Judaism, and the meaning of religion. When Bubbe (Grandma) has a stroke Justine worries that God is punishing her for breaking the rules, but frank discussions with a priest and a rabbi, as well as with Bubbe, finally set her on the road to finding her Jewish spiritual self.

 

Tough Questions Jews Ask by Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Jewish Lights, ages 11+


With insight and wisdom, and without pretending to have all the answers, Rabbi Feinstein encourages young people to make sense of the Jewish tradition by wrestling with what we don’t understand. He respectfully and humorously tackles questions like “Why does God let bad things happen?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

 

Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen, ECW Press, ages 12-18


In this hip and funny Orthodox Jewish story, 16-year-old Raina accidentally gets swept into the secret role of matchmaker in her close-knit Toronto community. Readers will be vastly entertained while learning a lot about Jewish marriage traditions.

 

Strange Relations by Sonia Levitin, Knopf, ages 12-18


Teenage Marne visits her uncle, a Chasidic rabbi. His Orthodox practices are foreign to Marne, who was raised in a more liberal Jewish tradition.  As she settles into her newfound family's daily routine, she begins to think about spirituality, identity, and finding a place in the world in a way she never has before.  

 

The Love Your Neighbor series of book lists was created by the Association of Jewish Libraries to grow readers’ understanding of the Jewish religion and its people. Watch www.jewishlibraries.org for forthcoming book lists in the series. 

 

Love Your Neighbor: Book List #1 Standing Up For Each Other

In response to the tragedy at the synagogue in Pittsburgh and to rising anti-Semitism in the United States, the Association of Jewish Libraries offers this series of book lists for young readers. Books read in youth impact future outlooks, and it is our hope that meeting Jews on the page will inspire friendship when readers meet Jews in real life. This is the first in a series of book lists intended to provide children and their families with a greater understanding of the Jewish religion and its people.


This first list features stories of Jews and non-Jews standing up for each other, working out differences, and confronting prejudice. Look for these titles in libraries, bookstores, and online. Click here to access the list in printable PDF format, or scroll down to read the list below. Watch www.jewishlibraries.org for forthcoming book lists from the Love Your Neighbor series.

 

PICTURE BOOKS


The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper, art by Gabi Swiatkowska, Abrams, ages 4-8

This book is a gentle reminder of a timeless rule for parent and child: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. A boy and his grandfather discuss the rule’s universality and how to put it into practice.


Hannah’s Way by Linda Glaser, art by Adam Gustavson, Kar-Ben, ages 4-8

After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah's family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot ride on the Sabbath. What will she do? A lovely story of friendship and community.


Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser, art by Claire A. Nivola, Houghton Mifflin, ages 4-8

In 1883, Jewish Emma Lazarus, deeply moved by an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe, wrote a sonnet that gave a voice to the Statue of Liberty. The statue, thanks to Emma's poem, came to define us as a nation that welcomes immigrants. A true story.


Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain by Jacqueline Jules, art by Durga Yael Bernhard, Wisdom Tales Press, ages 4-8

Inspired by a powerful legend of conflict resolution, Never Say a Mean Word Again is the compelling story of a boy who is given permission to punish an enemy. A surprising twist shows how an enemy can become a friend.


As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom by Richard Michelson, art by Raul Colon, Knopf, ages 6-9

Here is the story of two icons for social justice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Abraham Joshua Heschel, how they formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all.


The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren, art by Fabio Santomauro, Kar-Ben, ages 7-11

The dramatic story of neighbors in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden. Worried about their safety, friends devise a clever and unusual plan for their safe passage to the harbor. Based on a true story.

 

CHAPTER BOOKS


Vive La Paris by Esme Raji Codell, Hyperion, ages 9-12

Paris has come for piano lessons, not chopped-liver sandwiches or French lessons or free advice.  But when old Mrs. Rosen, who is Jewish, gives her a little bit more than she can handle, it might be just what Paris needs to understand the bully in her brother’s life…and the bullies of the world.


Refugee by Alan Gratz, Scholastic, ages 9-13

A Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany, a Cuban girl in 1994, a Syrian boy in 2015 - all three go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.


The Inquisitor’s Tale, Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, art by Hatem Aly, Dutton, ages 9-15

France, 1242. Three children: a Christian peasant girl, a Moorish boy raised as a monk, and a Jewish boy. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown


The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, Candlewick, ages 10-14

Fourteen-year-old Joan’s 1911 journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a Jewish society household in Baltimore takes readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions. 

Readers should be aware that The Hired Girl has engendered some controversy. On the one hand, the quality of writing and storytelling was recognized with conferral of the National Jewish Book Award, the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and AJL’s Sydney Taylor Book Award. At the same time, it has been criticized for reinforcing stereotypes of Native Americans. Please take advantage of this teachable moment when introducing the book to young readers.


Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust by Leanne Lieberman, Orca, ages 13-18 

Jewish teen Lauren is sick of Holocaust memorials. But when she sees some of her friends--including Jesse, a cute boy she likes--playing Nazi war games, she is faced with a terrible choice: betray her friends or betray her heritage.


Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle, Henry Holt, ages 12 to adult

Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away the ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. The young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away.

 

The Love Your Neighbor series of book lists was created by the Association of Jewish Libraries to grow readers’ understanding of the Jewish religion and its people. Watch www.jewishlibraries.org for forthcoming book lists in the series. 

For adult titles on Combating Anti-Semitism, please see this reading list from our friends at the Jewish Book Council.

 

 

Call for Papers: 54th Annual AJL Conference

The AJL 2019 Conference Committee is now soliciting paper proposals for our upcoming conference at the Warner Center Marriott, Woodland Hills, CA from June 17 - 19th, 2019.

We are seeking papers and presentations on all aspects of Judaica librarianship as it pertains to libraries, archives, museums, schools, synagogues, and related institutions. This year we would like to emphasis hands-on sessions. We are especially soliciting proposals dealing with digital humanities and Jewish Studies and sessions aimed at the needs of high school librarians.

Past topics have included: collection management, programming, reader advisory services, special and rare collections, cataloging and classification, digital and electronic resources and emerging technologies.   Presentations on Jewish resources in Los Angeles Jewish library collections and local authors would also be welcomed.

Submissions should include the following: 

*       Presenter's name, address, affiliation, telephone and email contacts.
*       Brief biography
*       Title of proposed presentation
*       Summary of proposal not to exceed 300 words
*       Specific technology or equipment requirements, if any

All submissions must be received by November 30, 2018.  Please submit proposals by e-mail (PREFERRED) to: conference@jewishlibraries.org

Proposals will be reviewed by the Program Planning Committee, composed of national and local AJL members. Notification will be made in January, 2019.

 

2018 Reference and Bibliography Awards

The Judaica Reference and Bibliography Awards Committee decided as following regarding the Judaica Reference and Bibliography 2018 awards:

Bibliography

David Hollander, Legal Scholarship in Jewish Law : an Annotated Bibliography of Journal Articles (Getzville, New York : William S. Hein & Co., 2017)

Honorable Mention: Steven J. Weiss, Pirke Avot: a Thesaurus : an Annotated Bibliography of Printed Hebrew Commentaries, 1485-2015 (Los Angeles & Jerusalem : The Dr. Steven J. Weiss Collection, 2016)

Reference

Paul R Bartrop & Michael Dickerman The Holocaust: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection (Santa Barbara, CA : ABC-CLIO, 2017)

Honorable mention: Zachary M. Baker, “Resources in Yiddish Studies” published in: In Geveb : A Journal of Yiddish Studies https://ingeveb.org/tags/Resources%20in%20Yiddish%20Studies )

I would like to thank the awards’ sponsors: Dr. Greta Silver of New York City, who established the AJL Judaica Reference Award, to encourage the publication of outstanding Judaica reference works, and Eric Chaim Kline of Los Angeles, who established the AJL Judaica Bibliography Award,  to encourage the publication of outstanding Judaica bibliographies.


I would also like to thank the Committee members Amalia S. Levi, David B. Levy, Michelle Chesner and Shulamith Z Berger for their enthusiastic and thoughtful input.

Rachel Simon