Books for Young Adults:

Nonfiction and General Jewish History


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Other Pages of Interest:

General Jewish History & Nonfiction | Biblical Era | European History (Excluding the Holocaust) | Immigration & The American Experience | Holocaust | Israel

Jewish Books for Children | Bar Mitzvah Books | Jewish Parenting Books | Jewish Music for Children | Jewish Videos | Jewish Jewelry


The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
This accessible encyclopedia provides information about religion, beliefs, customs, and personalities. It updates Naomi Ben-Asher and Hayim Leaf's The Junior Jewish Encyclopedia (Shengold, 1993), first published 40 years ago as the Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia (Shengold; o.p.). New material has been added, and time-sensitive entries relating to Israel and the former U.S.S.R., for instance, have been updated, while entries that are not time sensitive appear to remain untouched. In some cases, history is jammed together, so that in the entry on France, for example, readers may not realize the number of years that transpired between the Holocaust and more recent events. Graphically, there is still an old-fashioned quality about the book's design, despite the switch to full-color rather than two colors and more readable typefaces. Extensive illustrations, maps, graphs, and tables have been added. On the whole, this comprehensive and easy-to-read resource will be useful to the Jewish community, as well as to public schools and libraries.

Description from School Library Journal

Amazing Adventures of the Jewish People
The celebrated author takes on the entire sweep of Jewish history in 170 fascinating pages.
  • Why the trial of Jesus could not possibly have happened the way the Gospels say it did. (For one thing, Jewish law forbade arresting anyone at night.)
  • Marco Polo got to China by following the Jewish trade route
  • The Jews created the world's first elementary school system, the world's first teachers' college, the world's first compulsory education law, and the world's first copyright law.
  • The British jury system used in America today was invented by English Jews. (The "twelve good men and true" began as six Jews and six Christians.)
A concise, marvelously readable work of history, written by the hugely successful author Max I. Dimont.

Description from Publisher

The Jewish Fact-Finder :
A Bookful of Important Jewish Facts and Handy Information
Facts about Judaism are presented in over seventy lists arranged into sections, such as "People in the Tanach," "The Holy Books," "The Land of Israel," "The Holy Language," and "All Around the Calendar."

Description from Publisher

Junior Judaica :
Encyclopaedia Judaica for Youth

By Raphael Posner (Editor)
This six-volume set, prepared under the supervision of the Encyclopaedia Judaica editorial board, provides middle school through high school readers with over 1,200 A-Z entries on the most important concepts, people, events, ideas, holidays, and festivals of Jewish culture and history. Lavishly illustrated with over 1,500 photos and maps, 123 in full color, the entries provide a detailed description of Jewish past, present, and future.
The Story of the Jews
The Story of the Jews :
A 4,000 Year Adventure
Beginning with Abraham and Sarah, artist Stan Mack takes us on a rewarding pictorial journey across 4,000 years of Jewish history, through its ups and downs. From the biblical era to the twentieth century, we witness Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, the world's first "oy," the creation of the Talmud, the Crusades, the Holocaust, the birth of the Israeli state, the evolution of the stand-up comic, and much more. In addition, we meet the men and women who have shaped the Jewish experience, including Maimonides, Theodor Herzl, Irving Berlin, and Golda Meir.
Description from publisher

Veteran cartoonist Stan Mack brings his hip, contemporary sensibility to bear upon the sacred precincts of Jewish history and the result is, unexpectedly, a joy to behold. The artful and varied drawings breathe an air of enchantment that will both beguile and instruct children, while the often mischievous asides and commentary should bring a knowing smile to the lips of the most sophisticated adults. By sweeping away the cobwebs from Jewish history, Stan Mack has taken something familiar and made it fresh, piquant, and appealing to people of all ages."
--Ron Chernow

"Funny and original, and it won't take 4,000 years to read."
--Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons
Jewish Kids' Catalog
Jewish Kids' Catalog
Everything a kid wants to know about being Jewish. It's a fun-filled illustrated look at key people and events in Jewish history, at holidays and customs; origins of Jewish names, and much more.

The Atlas of Great Jewish Communities: A Voyage Through History

By Sondra Leiman
The history book you've been waiting for! Sondra Leiman's The Atlas of Great Jewish Communities is an adventure that begins in Jerusalem in the first century and ends, two thousand years later, in modern-day Israel. With compelling photographs, colorful maps, intriguing sidebars, personal tales, and primary texts, this is much more than a textbook. It's an interactive experience in Jewish history.

Designed for the fifth or sixth grade, The Atlas of Great Jewish Communities focuses on individuals as well as on events. Students meet such famous figures as King Herod, Rabbi Judah ha Nasi, as well as Bruria, Rambam, Maria Nunes, Hugo Grotius, and Eliezer Ben Yehuda. In becoming acquainted with such people, students learn of the Jewish past and come to see it as their own.

Description from Publisher

Chronicle of Jewish History from the Patriarchs to the 21st Century:
From the Patriarchs to the 21st Century

By Sol Scharfstein
Chronicle Of Jewish History: From The Patriarchs To The 21st Century is an immensely readable history of the Jewish people from the patriarchal and matriarchal period to the establishment of the State of Israel up to the Oslo Agreement. There are more than 250 one and two page historical essays illustrated with more than 400 colorful photographs and explanatory maps, as well as 12 colorful timelines. Chronicle Of Jewish History details important events and movements which shaped the experience of the Jewish people. Included are numerous biographies of heroes and heroines which emphasize their contribution to Jewish history, literature and religion. Each of the essays moves beyond names, dates and facts to key conceptual problems for understanding what it means to be Jewish in the context of world events. Chronicle Of Jewish History is a literary and historical masterpiece of scholarship written for the benefit of both students & non-specialist general readers.

Description from Midwest Book Review

Jewish Communities of the World

By Avi Beker
More than just a guide to centers of Jewish population throughout the world, this comprehensive work provides facts about the demography and history of these important communities, as well as a listing and descriptions of community organizations, religious life, local Jewish culture, and educational facilities. Introductory sections include information on the founding of Israel, population statistics, and thoughts on topics ranging from the Diaspora to the founding of the Jewish state. Liberal photographs and notes help illustrate the unique character and culture of each community.

Description from Publisher

Blessed Is the Daughter

By Carolyn Starman Hessel
The inspiring story of Jewish women in all lands, from Biblical days to our own time. Their courage, their devotion, their deeds of service and dedication, in heroic action and in the practice of everyday Jewish life. This book offers guidance and insights out of the entire span of Jewish history and tradition, from our Mother Sarah to the great Jewish women of the twentieth century. In simple yet moving words, and in beautiful images, this beloved book, now in its eighth revised edition, continues to inform and delight new generations of Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation-age young women and their families.

Description from Publisher

From the Matriarchs to Glueckel of Hameln, from Henrietta Szold to Hannah Szenes, from Golda Meir to Bella Abzug and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, [Blessed Is the Daughter] is a survey of Jewish women "in all lands, from biblical times to our own." The book is organized into 20 themed chapters, featuring editorial commentary, along with vignettes of dozens of Jewish women who made important contributions to their people and to the world at large. There are black and white photos or illustrations to accompany most of the entries. The book is appropriate for middle schoolers and up. With its broad survey of Jewish history, focusing on the contributions of Jewish women, it will make an excellent Chanukah or Bat Mitzvah gift for young Jewish women who may someday be inspired by these women to make important contributions of their own to Jewish life.

Description from The Ohio Jewish Chronicle

Lost and Found :
A Kid's Book for Living Through Loss

By Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman
Familiar television faces and the authors of How Do You Spell God? (1995), Gellman, a rabbi, and Hartman, a Roman Catholic priest, explore issues of loss for elementary-and middle-school students, and for parents who want to discuss such concerns with their children. Using words like "stuffy" and "busting up," their informal text is aimed straight at kids and incorporates lots of examples children can relate to as well as relevant excerpts from such wide-ranging sources as A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and Sarah Dessen's 1996 teen novel, That Summer. Careful not to patronize or denigrate, they begin with discussion of "small" losses--a missing toy, a friend's moving away--and proceed to losses of greater magnitude, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. With a few exceptions, such as a discussion of the soul, this is not a strictly religious book. Rather it is a practical, heartfelt exploration that emphasizes the idea of picking up after a loss and learning to look back with fondness and understanding. A list of further readings is appended.

Description from Booklist

A useful self-help book is a real find, and one just for kids-what a concept! And good from both Christian and Jewish points of view. Neither Christianity nor Judaism is vital to using the concepts found here; Gellman and Hartman bring wisdom and insight to the very real problems that children of any age face. For any child to admit that he/she feels lost and needs help is a major step towards maturity. And this book, that tells you how to help yourself, is terrific. No matter what's been lost-friend, health, parent, temper-all are covered here. Written in a plain, straightforward style that neither talks down to kids or expects too much knowledge from them, it's totally enjoyable.

Description from Children's Literature
While Standing on 
One Foot
While Standing On One Foot :
Puzzle Stories and Wisdom Tales from the Jewish Tradition

By Nina Jaffe
Calling on thousands of years of Jewish folktales, legends, rabbinical stories and literature, the authors show the wit and wisdom that are the cornerstones of the Jewish tradition. Posed as a question, each story turns on a conundrum that young readers can try to solve. The solutions are supplied within the tales.

from the Publisher

Eighteen stories testifying to the tradition of quick-thinking mother wit that has saved countless individuals, as well as larger Jewish populations, from harm--like the man who, offered a choice of how he'll be put to death, contemplates briefly and replies that he would like to die of old age. After narrating each story up to its denouement, the authors invite readers to come up with a solution to the seemingly implacable problem before providing the classic answer. Thus, this unusual and appealing collection can be used as a teaching tool offering examples of graceful logic; it's also a fine source for storytellers, and should enjoy wide usage in a variety of venues. Attractive format; Segal's stylized b&w illustrations are at once comic and wonderfully austere.

from Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 1993


The 17 brief selections in this book come from many eras and places in Jewish history and geography. Among them are "The Grand Inquistor," set in medieval Spain, in which a vicious inquisitor schemes to trick an innocent rabbi into admitting his (and by extension, all the Jews') guilt for a terrible crime. Others tell how a fox outwitted Leviathan, the powerful sea monster; how the boy who would later become King Solomon outsmarted a surly innkeeper; how a jester avoided dying by choosing the right form of death; and how a barren wife kept her husband through cleverness. Those who have read classical versions know that the originals meander, lack drama, and are dull. They have been adapted here so as to be short enough for memorizing and telling; all have a hero, a villain, a challenge, and a punch-line. Introductions supply background information. Just before revealing the outcome of each tale, the teller pauses, sums up the dilemma, and then asks readers what they would do in the same situation. Excellent for group discussions.

Description from School Library Journal

The Jewish Question Collection
More than 300 questions on Jewish history, traditions, holidays, places, and people will challenge every student and scholar of Judaism. Perfect for family games, travel amusement, religious school classes, or a bar or bat mitzvah gift.

Description from Publisher

Jewish Crossword Puzzles

By Kathi Handler

Klal Yisrael :
Our Jewish Community
How do we prepare our children to become active participants in the Jewish community?

This activity book provides a "hands-on" introduction to the wide variety of communities thoroughout the Jewish world. From its earliest beginnings in colonial America to present-day efforts to bring Soviet Jews to Israel, it is a record of Jews reaching out to other Jews in need.

Description from Publisher

Chronicle of Jewish History from the Patriarchs to the 21st Century

By Sol Scharfstein
Chronicle Of Jewish History: From The Patriarchs To The 21st Century is an immensely readable history of the Jewish people from the patriarchal and matriarchal period to the establishment of the State of Israel up to the Oslo Agreement. There are more than 250 one and two page historical essays illustrated with more than 400 colorful photographs and explanatory maps, as well as 12 colorful timelines. Chronicle Of Jewish History details important events and movements which shaped the experience of the Jewish people. Included are numerous biographies of heroes and heroines which emphasize their contribution to Jewish history, literature and religion. Each of the essays moves beyond names, dates and facts to key conceptual problems for understanding what it means to be Jewish in the context of world events. Chronicle Of Jewish History is a literary and historical masterpiece of scholarship written for the benefit of both students & non-specialist general readers.

Description from Midwest Book Review

The All New Jewish Quiz Book
Why did jeans maker Levi Strauss put rivets on his pants? Which Jewish baseball player was the first American League MVP? How many times is the shofar mentioned in the Bible? When did Maxwell House coffee begin distributing haggadot? Why is it traditional to celebrate Lag B'Omer with archery contests?

Here are forty-one challenging quizzes - more than 800 individual questions - to test your knowledge of "everything Jewish," on topics as diverse as politics and show business; sports and holidays; food and the Bible. It's a collection of entertaining brain-teasers about Jewish life for readers of all ages.

Understanding Jewish Holidays and Customs: Historical and Contemporary

By Sol Scharfstein
A historical and contemporary overview of customs and ceremonies as practiced by Jews from Biblical times to the present. The author begins with a discussion of the Jewish lunar calendar upon which the holidays are based and then distinguishes between the types of holidays. The Sabbath, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Shavuot, and Sukkot go back to Biblical times and are religious. Passover (also Biblical), Purim, Chanukah, and the more recent Yom Ha-Atzma'ut celebrate historical "victories"-the survival of the Jewish people or Israel's independence. Yom Ha-Shoah memorializes the victims of the Holocaust and Yom Ha-Zikkaron commemorates the soldiers fallen in defense of Israel. Other topics covered include the synagogue and Jewish life-cycle events. Several small, black-and-white and color photographs and reproductions appear in the margins of every page, and each chapter begins with a color illustration. In a clear style and attractive format, this volume offers much information about Jewish traditions.

Description from School Library Journal

The Essential Jewish Trivia Book for Kids

The Wonder of Becoming You

By Miriam Grossman, MD
A sensitive explanation of how a Jewish girl grow up, describing the body's changes, and how Jewish tradition view related matters.

Description from Publisher

Partners With G-d

by Gila Gevirtz
For children, seeing is believing. The formidable task parents and educators face in talking to children about G-d is that of describing a power without visible shape or form. Gevirtz tackles this task admirably, boiling profound theological concepts down to concrete situations and familiar contexts. In a gentle, poetic style, she evokes the wonders of creation as G-d's footprints, likens G-d's presence to a quiet voice that helps people do good and stresses that people are G-d's partners in caring for the world. To live as a Jew, she writes, is to feel the love and wisdom of G-d that is hidden in all things, from starry nights to the syrupy sweetness of honey on Rosh Hashanah to the delicate weave of a spider's web. Gevirtz challenges young readers to find G-d in their own lives and emphasizes each person's infinite worth. She addresses the subjects of monotheism and prayer, Shabbat and Torah, forgiveness and faithall through legends, folktales, Bible stories, full-color photographs and thought-provoking activities. The reactions of 600 children around the country to early chapters of the manuscript shaped this thoughtful textbook, which parents can also use as a guide to a complex subject.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Children have profound questions about G-d, but teachers and parents may find it difficult to talk about this most intangible and personal of subjects. As a result, an awareness of G-d is often missing from the religious school. This groundbreaking book is what teachers and parents have been waiting for: a clear and comfortable way to introduce Jewish concepts of G-d to children. With stories from our tradition, modern photographs, vibrant illustrations, and inventive activities, children explore ideas of G-d and holiness and discover a Jewish vocabulary for thinking and talking about G-d.

Among other things, children will learn that: we cannot know what G-d looks like, but we can see the things G-d creates; we are all made in G-d's image; life is a miracle, and all life is holy; and our souls connect us to each other and to G-d.

Description from Publisher

Listen to the Trees :
Jews and the Earth

By Molly Cone



Teacher's Edition Also Available
Listen To The Trees looks to the Torah for its environmental wisdom. Through quotations, sayings and stories, Molly Cone gives young readers an inspiring view of the Jewish connection to the natural world. Listen To The Trees presents Torah teachings that have made responsibility for caring for the earth an important part of Judaism from its very beginning. Roy Doty's charming illustrations enhance the value of Listen To The Trees as an informative and engaging book of interest to any young reader with a concern for nature and our environment.

Description from Midwest Book Review

Our Heroes: Kids Follow in the Footsteps of the Past

by Chaim Walder
More of the beautifully crafted, touching stories for which the author is known. This book will delight children and adults alike, with its stories narrated by children about their challenges, and the tales they are told about great people who have experienced similar situations. An absorbing read!

Description from Publisher

General Jewish History & Nonfiction | Biblical Era | European History (Excluding the Holocaust) | Immigration & The American Experience | Holocaust | Israel







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