"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.




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.



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

White Jewish Chazz and African-American non-Jewish 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.


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