"People of the Books" Blog

Love Your Neighbor: Book List #4 Let's Be Friends

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 fourth 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 fourth list features stories of Jews and non-Jews enjoying each other’s company, sharing food, skills, support, and friendship. 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.



Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Krysten Brooker, Candlewick, ages 4-8

Jewish Goldie is too sick to make Shabbat cholent or Sabbath stew, so her multicultural neighbors pitch in and save the day. Recipe included.


A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards , illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Schwartz & Wade, ages 4-8

Mrs. Goldman (Jewish) is so busy knitting for everyone in the neighborhood that she neglects herself. Little Sophia (Latina and non-Jewish) learns to knit just so she can keep her friend’s head warm. Knitting pattern included.


A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, Charlesbridge, ages 4-8

Moses Feldman (Jewish) lives at one end of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, while Mohammed Hassan (Muslim) lives at the other. One day they meet at the market while shopping with their mothers. A friendship is born, and the boys bring their families together to share rugelach and date cookies in the park as they make a wish for peace.


The Sundown Kid: A Southwestern Shabbat by Barbara Bietz, illustrated by John Kanzler, August House, ages 4-8

A Jewish family is lonely in their new home on the Western frontier until they invite the non-Jewish sheriff, blacksmith, and storekeeper’s families to come over and share a delicious dinner of chicken soup.


Across the Alley by Richard Michelson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Putnam, ages 5-8

Abe (white Jewish) and Willie (African-American non-Jewish) are best friends at night, when they lean out their bedroom windows to talk, play catch, and share music. When their secret comes out, their families proudly support both boys, despite mid-century social prejudices.


The Trees of the Dancing Goats written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, Simon & Schuster, ages 5-8

A Jewish family discovers that their Christian neighbors have scarlet fever and can’t prepare for Christmas. They cheer their friends with surprise trees, decorated with the wooden animals Grampa had carved for Hanukkah presents. See also Polacco’s tales of Jewish/Gentile friendship in Mrs. Katz and Tush and Tikvah Means Hope.




Paper Chains by Elaine Vickers, illustrated by Sara Not, HarperCollins, ages 8-12

Jewish Ana’s family is adjusting to life without dad while her best friend Katie, who’s Christian, deals with health issues and curiosity about her birth parents.  An endearing story of the power and comfort of friendship.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
by Jonathan Auxier, Abrams, ages 9-14

Warm-hearted historical fantasy brings us a non-Jewish chimney sweeping girl in Victorian London and her golem, a magical giant from Jewish folklore created to protect the underdog... and to be her friend.

Armstrong & Charlie
by Steven B. Frank, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ages 10-14

1970s school desegregation brings together a white Jewish and an African-American non-Jewish boy, who despite their initial distrust end up as true friends.  A heartfelt and funny book. 


Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar, Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, ages 10+

Cuban-Jewish immigrant Ruthie is adjusting to life in the US when she ends up in a body cast after a car crash. Bedridden, she relies on connections with Belgian, Indian, and Mexican friends and teachers, and her newfound love of art. Based on the author’s experiences.




SydneyTaylorBookAwards.org—The best Jewish children’s books of the year, preschool through teens

Tabletmag.com/tag/childrens-books—Jewish children’s book news and reviews from Tablet Magazine

BookofLifePodcast.com—Interviews with authors, illustrators, and publishers of Jewish books for kids and adults

Jewishbookcouncil.org/books/reading-lists—The Jewish Book Council’s adult and children’s reading lists



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