"People of the Books" Blog

2019 Sydney Taylor Award Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 28, 2019

2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners Announced

Winners of the annual Sydney Taylor Book Award were announced by the Association of Jewish Libraries today in Seattle, WA at the Youth Media Awards press conference of the American Library Association. Named in memory of Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series, the award recognizes books for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.

2019 marks the first time the Sydney Taylor Book Awards have been included in the American Library Association Youth Media Award announcements.


GOLD MEDALISTS


All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky, published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers category. In this meticulously researched Hanukkah story based on the classic children’s book All-of-a-Kind Family, poetic language and exuberant illustrations perfectly capture the emotions of each of the iconic sisters as they prepare latkes and celebrate the holiday in New York’s Lower East Side in 1912.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier, published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Older Readers category. Auxier masterfully weaves Jewish themes and characters into the story of Nan Sparrow, a chimney climbing girl in Victorian London, and her remarkable friendship with Charlie, the soot golem who saves her life.

What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper, illustrated by the author, published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Teen Readers category. This beautifully illustrated novel tells the story of teen Holocaust survivor Gerta as she struggles to reconcile her identity and desires in the wake of tragedy.


SILVER MEDALISTS


Five Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also recognized. For Younger Readers, the Honor Books are A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, published by Charlesbridge, and Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall’s Life and Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpré, published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. 

For Older Readers, the Honor Books are All Three Stooges, by Erica S. Perl, published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, and The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House. 

For Teen Readers, the Honor Book is You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon, published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated nine Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2019. More information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award and a complete listing of the award winners and notables can be found at www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org.

Winning authors and illustrators will receive their awards at the Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, to be held in Los Angeles, California, from June 17 – 19, 2019. Gold and silver medalists will also participate in a blog tour February 10-14, 2019. For more information about the blog tour please visit www.jewishlibraries.org/blog. An exclusive interview with the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee Chair Susan Kusel may be heard on The Book of Life podcast at www.bookoflifepodcast.com

Members of the 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award committee are: Chair, Susan Kusel, Temple Rodef Shalom Library, Falls Church, Virginia; Rena Citrin, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago, Illinois; Shoshana Flax, The Horn Book, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts; Rebecca Levitan, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, Maryland; Sylvie Shaffer, Capitol Hill Day School, Washington, DC; Marjorie Shuster, Congregation Emanuel, New York, New York; and Rivka Yerushalmi, Jewish Women International Libraries, Silver Spring, Maryland.

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel. AJL is an affiliate of the American Library Association. More information is available at www.jewishlibraries.org.

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2019 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Winner Chosen

The Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Competition committee is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2019 award. Jessica Littmann, author of A Corner of the World, will receive the award at the annual conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries to be held in Los Angeles, California from June 17-19, 2019. The Award is offered annually to an unpublished manuscript that has broad appeal to readers aged 8-13 and presents Jewish life in a positive light. The committee members felt that A Corner of the World had the perfect amount of Jewish content and values combined with complex contemporary themes.

A Corner of the World tells the story of two unlikely friends, Maya and Sam, who team up to make a difference in their community. Maya and Sam are both students at a Jewish day school who, like many middle school students, struggle with personal challenges that make them feel alone. When violence affects a member of their school's staff, Maya and Sam find common cause in a mitzvah project which brings healing and hope to a Chicago neighborhood in the spirit of tikkun olam.

In writing A Corner of the World, Ms. Littmann was inspired by a news story she had read about two teenagers who raised money to build a playground for disadvantaged children in Chicago. She said further that she “tried to provide a snapshot of the issues that contemporary Jewish kids face in the classroom and in their lives as part of the great community.”

Having grown up reading and loving Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family books, Ms. Littmann is thrilled to have been selected for this award and feels “as if she’s traveling in her own personal rainbow.” Ms. Littmann, who lives in Evanston, Illinois, is a teacher by training. She is currently working as a freelance writer and serves as a member of the board of Beth Hillel B’nai Emunah Academy. A Corner of the World is her first novel.

Members of the 2019 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Committee are: Chair, Aileen Grossberg, Lampert Library, Congregation Shomrei Emunah, Montclair, New Jersey and Jacobs Library, Oheb Shalom Congregation, South Orange, New Jersey; Toby Harris, Seattle Public Library and Temple Beth Am, Seattle, Washington; Heidi Rabinowitz, Feldman Children’s Library and Howard Computer Lab, Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, Florida; Jill Ratzan, Temple B’nai Abraham, Bordentown, New Jersey; Rachel Simon, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, Massachusetts; and Debbie Steinberg, Learning Commons, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Chicago, Illinois. More information about the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award may be found at www.tinyurl.com/stmanuscript

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The 2019 Sydney Taylor Book & Manuscript Awards
Association of Jewish Libraries


Winner for Younger Readers

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky,
published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

Winner for Older Readers

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier,
published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams

Winner for Teen Readers

What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper, illustrated by the author,
published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

~~~~~~

Honor Books for Younger Readers

Through the Window:Views of Marc Chagall’s Life by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPré,
published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, published by Charlesbridge

Honor Books for Older Readers

All Three Stooges by Erica S. Perl, published by Alfred A. Knopf,
an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman, published by Dial Books for Young Readers,
an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House

Honor Book for Teen Readers

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon, published by Simon Pulse,
an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Notable Books for Younger Readers

Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing by Nancy Churnin,
illustrated by James Rey Sanchez, published by Creston Books

Write On, Irving Berlin! by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by David C. Gardner,
published by Sleeping Bear Press

French Toast Sundays by Gloria Spielman, illustrated by Inbal Gigi Bousidan,
published by Apples and Honey Press, an imprint of Behrman House

The Passover Parrot by Evelyn Zusman, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker,
published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

Notable Books for Older Readers

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky,
published by Pantheon Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House

12 Before 13 by Lisa Greenwald, published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Light the Menorah: A Hanukkah Handbook by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kristina Swarner,
published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

The Sound of Freedom by Kathy Kacer, published by Annick Press

Notable Book for Teen Readers

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic

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Manuscript Award Winner


A Corner of the World by Jessica Littman

~~~~~~
For more information contact:
Susan Kusel, Chair, Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, Association of Jewish Libraries
[email protected]
www.sydneytaylorbookawards.org

Aileen Grossberg, Chair, Sydney Taylor Manuscript Committee, Association of Jewish Libraries
[email protected]
www.tinyurl.com/stmanuscript

AJL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 2019, LOS ANGELES (WOODLAND HILLS,) CALIFORNIA

logo for 2019 conference Monday, June 17, 2019 to Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Warner Center Marriott
21850 Oxnard St.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

 

Join AJL in June for our 54th annual conference at the Warner Center Marriott located in the popular suburbs of the San Fernando Valley, in the city of Los Angeles. It is ideally situated near public transportation and shopping, with a multitude of dining options nearby. More importantly, Woodland Hills has a vibrant Jewish community waiting to meet with Judaica librarians from around the world.

Most of our conference will be held within the beautiful conference center inside the hotel, but we do have special optional tours planned offsite. The conference will begin with a noon luncheon on Monday, followed by a variety of interesting afternoon sessions, and then you are on your own for dinner.

Our Tuesday keynote luncheon speaker will be Russian-born author and artist Eugene Yelchin, 2018 National Book Award finalist, and winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Newbery Honor Award and Golden Kite Award among many other notable honors. 

Featured among the many Tuesday sessions will be presentations on research skills for high schools, some well-known literary stars of the Los Angeles Persian Jewish community (including author Gina Nahai), and the best new Jewish fiction for adults.

Tuesday evening will continue with our Literary Awards Banquet, honoring the winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award, the Judaica Reference and Bibliography Award, as well as our newest award: the AJL Fiction Award for best adult fiction book with a Jewish theme. 

After morning sessions on Wednesday, we will board busses to travel to American Jewish University in Bel Air to tour the library and grounds and enjoy our final lunch together.  Optional tours will be available to visit either the Getty Museum or the Skirball Cultural Center, both within one mile of the university.

For those needing to catch a flight home from LAX on Thursday morning, the Hilton LAX hotel has been reserved at a special rate for our members and the airport shuttle ride is included in the price. (Check the website next month for the link to this hotel rate.)

The registration link  for the conference and the Marriott hotel is now available at our website: https://jewishlibraries.org/meetinginfo.php?id=20&ts=1548037786 

to get the Early Bird full conference rate of $400 until April 15th!

We look forward to seeing you in June!

 

Jackie BenEfraim, Local Conference Chairperson

Lisa Silverman, National Conference Chairperson

 

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.

PICTURE BOOKS

 

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.

 

CHAPTER BOOKS

 

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.

 

READY FOR MORE JEWISH BOOKS? VISIT THESE WEBSITES!

 

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

 

 

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


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.

 

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 Eisenberg 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.