Jewish Novels
for Older Children

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Intermediate and YA Fiction ... Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8 | Page 9

Jewish Historical Fiction for Middle School and YA Readers... Biblical Era | Middle Ages, Renaissance, and the Spanish Inquisition | Immigration & The American Experience | European History | Holocaust (Page 1) (Page 2) (Page 3) (Page 4) (Page 5) (Page 6) | Israel

Intermediate and YA Books ... Bar Mitzvah Books | Jewish Fiction | Historical Fiction | Torah Study | Prayer and Jewish Life Books | Jewish Holidays | Jewish Biographies | Jewish History Books | Holocaust Books for Teens | Israel Books

Jewish History Books for Intermediate, Middle School, and Young Adult Readers ... General Jewish History & Nonfiction | Biblical Era | European History (Excluding the Holocaust) | Immigration & The American Experience | Holocaust | Israel

Easy Reader and Picture Books ... Jewish Children's Books (General) | Jewish Board Books | Biblical Stories for Children | Jewish Holiday Books | Jewish Family Cookbooks | Folktales and Talmudic Stories for Children | Jewish Life Books (Mitzvot, Keeping Kosher, etc.) | Jewish Life Cycle Books | Family Haggadahs | Children's Prayerbooks | Introductory Hebrew Books | Jewish History and Historical Fiction Picture Books | Israel Books

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The Many Adventures of Minnie

By Jan Siegel Hart
Minnie grows up in the only Jewish home in a small Texas town. Because Minnie is the younest of four children, she is determined to do things better than her older siblings. In her struggle to excel, she frequently finds herself in trouble. But when she finally achieves, success is all the sweeter.

Description from Publisher

Hello Heddy Levi

By Yaffa Ganz
Follows the adventures, at school and at home, of eleven-year-old Hedy Levi, the youngest, smartest, and most original girl in the eighth-grade class at Karem Hatorah Yeshiva.

Description from Publisher

The Secret Code and Other Stories

By Gershon Kranzler
From a hijacking in London to a rescue at Brighton Beach, these exciting stories depict modern Jewish boys faced with challenges and tests of character, in the midst of fast-paced adventure.

Description from Publisher

Table of Contents:

  • A Bar Mitzvah Boy's Revenge
  • Chanukah in Stalag 32
  • The Friendly Pawnshop
  • The Secret Code
  • Divine Gift
  • Higher Duty
  • The Contest
  • The Daily Psalm
  • The Siddur
  • A Real Champ
  • The Hitchhike
  • For the Sake of the Sabbath
  • Rescue from the Ocean
  • The New Teacher
  • In Business for Himself
  • The Value of a Cheescake
  • Meeting at Kfar Eliyahu
  • Hijack
  • A Treasure is Recovered

Blind Thief and Other Stories

By Rabbi Yisroel Pesach Sochertov
The moral insights and parables of the Maggid of Dubno, presented as contemporary stories for young readers.

Description from Publisher

Fat Chance

By Leslea Newman
Judi Liebowitz thinks she's fat. And she's convinced, as she confides in her diary, that she'd be happier if she were skinnier. So when Judi becomes friendly with pencil-thin, glamorous Nancy Pratt, she learns Nancy's secret and joins her in the secret binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia. Before long, Judi's life spins out of control and her obsession with food, calories, and pounds is no longer another typical eighth-grade problem--it's a matter of life and death.

Description from Publisher

Readers of this novel in diary form will be drawn into thirteen-year-old Judi's story. Her obsession with losing weight leads to bulimia until the hospitalization of a bulimic classmate finally causes her to seek help. While the subject is serious, the novel is not without humor; Judi is a likable character, and her ruminations about boyfriends and possible careers ring true. --

Description from Horn Book

Double Dare of the Gooblyglop

By Tova Guttmann

The Story Hour, Vol. 1

The Story Hour, Vol. 2
The Story Hour is a collection of great stories for children ages 8-12 that originally appeared in the popular children's magazine, The Moshiach Times. They have been revised and edited by Rabbi Dovid Sholom Pape, and are meaningful and fun to read. The well-written plot of each story inevitably leads to a surprising moment of discovery that reveals the greatness of ordinary people. They also include classic tales of long ago and far away, that are heart warming, full of humor and adventure. Just a brief glance at the book shows that the stories are highly imaginative and inspiring, and that every story has a moral. A camper lost in the wilderness learns that everything is for the best. A young girl experiences a Shabbos miracle...and the story of a Chanukah Menorah that kindled a flame. Each story is enlivened by children's illustrator Dave Berg and the artist Yosef Dershowitz, which help bring the characters to life. The book is printed in a large, easy to read type.

Description from Chabad Magazine, November 1994

Sefer Ha-Aggadah: The Book of Legends for Young Readers
(Volume 1)

Sefer Ha-Aggadah: The Book of Legends for Young Readers
(Volume 2)

By Seymour Rossel
The Sefer Ha-Aggadah is made up of six volumes of legends about the Jewish people. This collection is drawn from the first volume, which focuses on stories from the Bible. The legends follow the Old Testament sequentially, but omit major events, such as Jacob receiving Esau's birthright, to concentrate on the legendary material that has grown out of the Biblical tales. Sometimes a story within a story is told to illustrate a concept or clarify a point. The retellings are clearly and crisply written. Older readers familiar with the basic tales will find this approach effective, but the organization may confuse younger readers. The mosaic stylized full-color and black-and-white illustrations add to the book's appeal.

from School Library Journal

The Storyteller, Vol. 1

The Storyteller, Vol. 2

The Storyteller, Vol. 3

The Storyteller, Vol. 4

The Storyteller, Vol. 5
Jewish stories are part of the heritage of our people, often capturing the essence of Jewish experience. The stories in this volume will provide hours of reading enjoyment for older children and teenagers. Parents and teachers will turn to them again and again when they are called upon to be storytellers themselves. The contribution of Nissan Mindel to the treasury of Jewish stories is inestimable. He has, for the past five decades, researched and presented to both English and Yiddish-reading audiences stories mined from sources inaccessible to the average American Jew. They cover a wide range of subjects: great Jewish personalities, the festivals, Jewish life in medieval and pre-Holocaust times, the Holocaust, and life behind the Iron Curtain. The world of innkeeper and nobleman, shepherd and woodchopper, spice merchant and gem dealer, comes alive to reveal to us the workings of Divine Providence or the events that shaped Jewish history.

Description from Publisher

Feathers in the Wind

By Miriam Chaikin
When he jokingly tells a malicious lie--'Avram Lev still wets his bed'--about his least-popular classmate, Yossi painfully comes to realize the enduring relevance of his Bible lessons on the evils of gossip and slander...

Description from Booklist

Lone Star

By Barbara Barrie
It's fall 1944, and 10-year-old Jane Miller has moved from Chicago to Corpus Christi, Tex. A Jew and a "Yank," Jane is further alienated from her classmates by her family's sudden poverty--the result of her indulgent father's having embezzled funds from the insurance company he works for. As Mr. Miller tries to repair the damage he's done to his family, Jane longs desperately to fit into her strange new environment. Her beloved Orthodox grandfather visits, but fails to console her: "Friends are not as important as living a life of dedication," he declares. When Jane's new friend Sally invites her to help trim a Christmas tree, Jane is enchanted and wants a tree of her own. In her first novel, actress Barrie sets Jane's wrestling with her own identity against a sensitively and economically drawn backdrop of family conflict, all overshadowed by the gradual revelations of the atrocities Hitler has wreaked on European Jewry. Although the dialogue is occasionally stiff and a few characters are not fully evoked, Barrie's protagonists are original, and her story both memorable and moving.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Forced to move from Chicago to Corpus Christi, Texas because of her father's business, ten-year-old Jane Miller explores her Jewish heritage as she struggles to fit in with her primarily Christian classmates. Set in the 1940s, Jane's family's problems are magnified by worry about what is happening in Europe. Her brother, Jeff, has just reached draft age, and many relatives in Poland have disappeared. Jane's grandfather, an Orthodox Jew, believes obeying all Jewish laws is more important now than ever, while her father understands Jane's desire to have a Christmas tree and attend holiday parties with her new friends. On her own she tries to understand religious differences as well as the tensions between her parents. Each family member feels guilt and anger about their current situation; their conflicts and love are realistically described. Non-Jewish readers will gain a greater understanding of Jewish beliefs and holiday rituals. The evocative story has a strong sense of time and place and is also successful in capturing the point of view of a child.

Description from School Library Journal

This is a close and honest look at a child's struggle with being different. A stranger to two worlds, Jane is also threatened by her brother's leavingto become a soldier, by her parents' constant fighting, and by her grandfather's exclusive definitions of Jewish tradition. . . . This is a tightly focusedbook, its pace heightened by dramatic scenes (especially Jane's trips downtown with her grandfather to sell his tacky line of dry goods), closely observed character dynamics, an ending that leaves important questions open for readersto think about, and enough emotional momentum to insure that they will.

Description from Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Adam Zigzag

By Barbara Barrie
The stories are told in alternating chapters by Adam, who calls himself Adam Zigzag because that's the way he sees the written word falling on the page, and his older sister, Caroline, who's mildly dyslexic, too, but angry that her brother gets all the attention. Adam chronicles his descent downward as, despite the help of his parents, tutors, and teachers, he is unable to make sense out of his studies. Although Barrie does a good job of capturing the despair that both child and parent feel when a learning disorder takes over family life, the characters never really come alive. It is only the learning disorder itself that seems real. Still, the book's hopeful ending may inspire some kids in the same predicament; in any case, it will surely let them know they are not alone.

Description from Booklist

The author of Lone Star, who's also an award-winning actress, describes a dyslexic's troubles and their eventual resolution in a narrative that alert readers will suspect is largely autobiographical. Though Adam is bright and has numerous gifts, his learning problems lead to academic failures and the pain of being thought lazy by insensitive teachers. His parents are supportive but, both involved in theater, otherwise engaged; older sister Caroline, who inherited a milder dyslexia from their mother, justly feels that Adam gets more than his share of attention. Schools are changed and tutors and counselors engaged with varying success; with junior high comes independence and dubious friends purveying escape through drugs, one of whom steals some things from the family's Manhattan apartment. This, plus a bad trip when Adam adds acid to his established pot habit (the joints are rolled on Zigzag brand paper), jolts him into therapy and also into accepting what seems to be the right school at last. All this is typical of boys like Adam, and too smoothly told to fall into the trap of sounding like a case study; but the sequence of events never quite evolves into a plot, while--though Adam's and Caroline's first-person voices alternate--the underlying insights seem more parental. Still, an honest and empathetic portrayal of a not uncommon set of pressures and responses.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

Adam hates reading and writing. Throughout his school years he is in and out of private institutions in New York City because public schools cannot serve dyslexic students. He hesitates to use a telephone because he fears he will dial the wrong numbers; he gets letters in his last name mixed; he worries because he is unable to read the passage assigned him for his bar mitzvah ceremony. A crisis with drugs makes him realize he has allowed dyslexia to overshadow his talent in sports, music, and acting. The book spans Adam's life from elementary through high school. Narration alternates between Adam and his older sister Caroline, who offers a glimpse of the effect of Adam's dyslexia on a loving and supportive family. Adam's viewpoint offers a well detailed and informative account of the frustrations connected with dyslexia and the sense of worth that results from developing strategies to deal with it.

Description from ALAN Reviews

The Sabbath Garden

By Patricia Baird Greene
Her beloved grandmother is dead; her best friend has rejected her; and while her mother avoids life by sleeping away the days, her brother becomes more evil and angry every moment. Opal Tyler feels as though she has a caged wildcat inside her. Solomon Leshko faces his own struggle. An Orthodox Jew who has lived on Manhattan's Lower East Side since its heyday, he resents what Opal and "those people" are doing to his neighborhood. One evening Opal needs a place to take refuge from her brother's violence, and old man Leshko takes her in. He introduces her not only to his Sabbath, but also to the importance of personal dignity. The bond that grows between them replaces their prejudices with an empowerment that saves them from their own anger and enables them to help the rest of the community. Though the character transformations come a little too easily, and the answers are a little too pat, the action is nonstop and the ending uplifting. Opal is an introspective, multidimensional character who will appeal to teens across ages and cultures, and the picture of her neighborhood with all of its tension and all of its pride--both justified and misplaced--will draw readers into a world they will be able to understand regardless of socioeconomic background.

Description from Booklist

A memorable and moving book. Opal Tyler, a 13-year-old African American, lives in a world of drugs, crime, and squalor. Struggling to stay above the more sordid aspects of her life, she is angry, depressed, and suicidal. Her mother works much of the time and sleeps the rest, soothing her emotions with tranquilizers. Her brother is often violent, and her best friend is no friend at all. Opal forges a friendship with Solomon Leshko, an elderly Jewish man who is trapped in his memories and in his grief, and, yes, trapped in a neighborhood he has watched change from a clean, solid place to a filthy, crime-ridden slum. Resentful of the new residents, he cherishes only his cats, his religion, and his family. But he sees something special in Opal and offers her his home as a hiding place after she is threatened by her brother. Their friendship blossoms, and both are instrumental in creating a community garden that brings the neighborhood together. The story deals with racial and religious relations, but it is also a book that looks at pride and dignity. It shows the kind of emotional strength needed to survive an urban ghetto and the value of community. Beautifully written, it will appeal to a wide audience

Description from School Library Journal

Greene's debut offers a slice of contemporary urban angst as blacks, Jews, and Hispanics struggle for survival in N.Y.C.'s angry streets. As the dedication indicates, the story is rooted in the Bowery-Houston Garden on the Lower East Side. Opal Tyler, the black adolescent viewpoint character, battles her own self-destructive nature in a home that's troubled by a depressed mother and a dangerous brother. Opal finds safety in the apartment of neighbor Solomon Leshko, a Jewish elder who remembers the days when the neighborhood cradled his Orthodox brethren. Trying to regain Solomon's silver, stolen by her brother, Opal is shot, though not fatally. Anger and destruction escalate until Solomon decides he must leave; attempting to keep him in the neighborhood, Opal plants the idea of a community garden where diverse cultures, working together, can create a peaceful haven at the center of the war zone. Greene's language packs an honest, urban punch; the city's tension fairly pulses through the book.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

The only time Opie feels at home is on the basketball court where her height and her slight build are an advantage. Otherwise, she feels gawky and out of place. Opie has always been taught to suppress her feelings, but there is a caged animal inside of her clawing toward escape. An encounter with old Mr. Leshko, a neighbor in her apartment building, helps Opie find some inner quiet. Together they build a Sabbath garden. Literally, it is a place where the community can gather, a spot of peace in an otherwise riotous city. The Sabbath garden is also a deep well of inner contentment from which Opie can draw when her life seems out of control. Greene has created a realistic picture of how people can sometimes lose their humanity when the city presses in on them. Though gritty, the story is ultimately about the redemptive quality of trust. Interesting companion books might be Lasky's Prank and Brooks' The Moves Make the Man.

Description from The ALAN Review

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