Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Books for Jewish Children


In today's secular society, it's often difficult to find books which help children develop pride in being Jewish and at the same time learning about our history, customs, and what makes Judaism "special". Here's a sampling of some of the books available. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a short list to get you started. I have linked them to Amazon.com, which I have found usually has the best prices, however I have also linked some of them to Barnes and Noble when Amazon either had a special-handling surcharge or didn't carry the books.

As a warning, I have put up pictures of the book covers to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each book (I know, I know. "Don't judge a book by its cover") so the pages may load slowly.


Bar/Bat Mitzvah Books (Fiction and Nonfiction)

About the B'Nai Bagels
About the B'Nai Bagels
Mark Seltzer thought he had enough aggravation studying for his Bar Mitzvah and losing his best friend. It's the last straw when his mother becomes the new manager of his Little League baseball team and drags his older brother, Spencer, along as the coach. No one knows what to expect with a mother for a manager, but soon Mark and the other players are surprised to see how much they're improving due to coach Spencer's strategy and helpful hints from "Mother Bagel."

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues
Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues
Alyssa has become an adult, according to Judaism; since she has completed her Bat Mitzvah, she is expected to make her own decisions. And, instead of joining the temple's confirmation class, concentrating on schoolwork or socializing with friends, Alyssa chooses to pursue her dance lessons. Her priorities shift, however, when her best friend Ellen becomes ill, and when Alyssa's Jewish identity becomes more important to her. Alyssa realizes that a delicate balance between avocation and responsibility can exist if she is strong enough to make difficult decisions. Readers will enjoy the universal conflicts Wolff eloquently delineates; her characters are well realized and lend additional credibility to the story

description by Publisher's Weekly
A Belfer Bar Mitzvah
A Belfer Bar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah (son of the commandment) and Bat Mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) mark the age when adult reason and responsibility begin. In this third book about her, Toby Belfer, a Jewish girl growing up in rural Louisiana, learns about the Bar Mitzvah ceremony through her older cousin Paul. Beginning with Toby's invitation to Paul's Bar Mitzvah and ending with the cutting of the challah and the traditional dance called the horah, the reader is led through the experience of this ancient ceremony. Now Toby is better prepared to begin her own studies for the Bat Mitzvah, changing perhaps only one thing pink instead of green balloons!

In this charming tale, as in the other Belfer stories, author Gloria Teles Pushker gives the appropriate Jewish terms and follows them with definitions so that Jews and non-Jews alike can gain a greater understanding of the traditions and rituals that make up the Jewish faith.

Ages 9-12
A Spiritual Journey
A Spiritual Journey : The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Handbook
Putting 
G-d on Your Guest List
For Kids--Putting G-d on Your Guest List : How to Claim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah
This is a kids' companion guide to the widely acclaimed guide for parents by the same author, Putting G-d on the Guest List: How to Reclaim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah. And surely this work does guide students through the details both secular (gifts, parties, dealing with parents) and ritualistic (prayers, speeches, decorum) of preparing and conducting the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony. But, it is much more than that. It also is a workbook for a young adolescent who is trying to figure out his/her evolving role in Jewish history and Jewish life. And for the older reader, this work can serve as an informative and highly readable reminder about what being Jewish is really all about.

from Children's Literature
Emma Ansky-Levine and Her Mitzvah Machine
Emma Ansky-Levine and Her Mitzvah Machine
A rather unique approach to the theme of a girl discovering and becoming fascinated with her religious heritage. Emma's 12th birthday gift from an uncle living in Jerusalem is a computerlike machine that is shaped like the tablet of the ten commandments and bears the name "Mitzvah Machine." To Emma's completely nonobservant Jewish family, it's a nonsense gift. As the girl goes about her usual routines of school, friends, and family life, however, the messages on the machine's screen challenge, guide, and teach her. Emma and her friends are very real youngsters, and the characters and story line will hold readers' interest. Emma befriends a homeless man for whom she collects food from her neighbors and is jealous when her best friend, Danny, seems to be too interested in another classmate. The climax of the story comes when Emma, because of the Mitzvah Machine's influence, becomes bat mitzvah, with Uncle Izzy traveling to America for the occasion. Entertaining and a little different.

from School Library Journal
Bar Mitzvah Lessons
Bar Mitzvah Lessons
David's fear over his approaching bar mitzvah causes him to alienate five rabbis who try to help him, but something surprising happens when he is placed in the hands of the eccentric former teacher Reuven Weiss.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Autograph Book
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Autograph Book
A bar/bat mitzvah illustrated keepsake book that provides spaces to record basic information about the special day.
Back of Beyond
Back of Beyond : A Bar Mitzvah Journey
Sometimes you learn to appreciate what you have only when you are about to lose it. When 12 year old Danny sees a contest to win a trip to Australia, he works hard to develop the winning entry. Unfortunately, the vacation comes just before his Bar Mitzvah and at a time when his parents cannot go along. Accompanied by a chaperon and his older sister Rebeccah, he sets off on his dream trip. While there, he meets Muri, an Aborigine, and his life is never the same again.


General Interest Fiction


Escape from Egypt
Escape from Egypt : A Novel
Levitin has written a book that is troubling, moving -- and that forces its readers to think. Quite a combination, especially when presented in that much-maligned genre, historical fiction. The story Levitin tells is hardly new. It is the biblical tale of the Exodus, the Israelite flight from Egypt, here seen from the point of view of two teenagers, Jesse, a Hebrew slave, and Jennat, a half-Egyptian, half-Syrian girl. The pair meet when they work together learning jewelry-making, but their burgeoning relationship is dwarfed by momentous events. Moses has come to gather the Jewish people; he is going to make Pharaoh let them go. The biblical setting provides the wider context for a drama that is primarily a human one. Plagues and miracles swirl around real people who are so enmeshed in their own lives and passions that, at times, they seem almost oblivious to the spectacle threatening to engulf them. This human scale is the great strength of the novel. Levitin makes myth manageable, bringing it right into the lives of modern-day readers.

Description by Booklist
The Cross by Day, Mezuzzah by Night
The Cross by Day, Mezuzzah by Night
Isabel Caruso de Carvallo, a devout Catholic girl, is shocked to learn that in reality she is Ruth de Cojano, a secret Jew, part of a group referred to derogatorily by the Spanish Catholics as Marranos. In 1492 on her thirteenth birthday, the age of Jewish adulthood, Ruth is told about her great-grandparents, who were forced to convert to Christianity or die. For 100 years, the de Cojanos have lived in Seville as the Caruso de Carvallos, practicing ancient Jewish rituals and reciting Hebrew prayers in secret. Although all Marranos are in danger, Ruth's family has been especially on guard: her father is the chief royal tax collector of Seville, and the Inquisition relishes making examples of people in high positions. If its true religion is revealed, the family faces torture and burning at the stake. So Ruth, her parents, and her infant brother prepare to flee their beloved Spain with the tens of thousands of Jews being expelled. Through a gripping first-person narrative, Ruth relays her feelings, her fears, and her confusion. This commanding novel jars us through its portrayal of the senseless brutality of the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Spain's Jews in the fifteenth century. It is a lesson related with suspense, emotion, and lasting impact.

description by Booklist
What Happened to Heather Hopkowitz?
What Happened to Heather Hopkowitz?
Fourteen-year-old Heather Hopkowitz can't imagine life without bacon, cheeseburgers, or bowling on Friday nights. But that's what happens when she spends an entire month as the guest of an Orthodox Jewish family while her parents are away on vacation. As Heather begins to appreciate the traditional rituals, she considers becoming observant. What will her friends think? What will her parents think?

description by publisher
Plots and Players
Plots and Players
1594 and a young Shakespeare is working on a new play, The Merchant of Venice, amid growing anti-Jewish sentiment in England. Three Jewish children try to save Queen Elizabeth's Jewish physician when he's falsely accused of spying for Spain. Can the children help Shakespeare see the prejudice of his work? Can they save the doctor?
The Violin Players
The Violin Players
When her family moves from New York to Missouri, Melissa, a nonpracticing Jew who's never thought much about religion, encounters strong antiSemitism and does not tell anyone she is Jewish. When another Jewish student at school is attacked, Melissa stands up for him and decides to learn more about her religion.

from Horn Book
The Marvelous Mix-up and other tales of Reb Sholem
The Marvelous Mix-up and other tales of Reb Sholem
The wise and understanding Rabbi of Keppel is really put to the test! When the richest man in town won't share a penny with anyone, when something mysterious is wrontg with all the children, and when his hateful enemy sets out to revenge on the Jews - will Reb Shalom come to the rescue?
Of Heroes, Hooks, and Heirlooms
Of Heroes, Hooks, and Heirlooms
Mia doesn't know how to participate in her class's study of family history because her parents lost all their belongings save one photograph in the Holocaust. An understanding neighbor helps her to reclaim the family gift of crochet and make a new heirloom. The story about struggling with loss and defining heroism is a moving one.

Description by Horn Book
Dear Elijah
Dear Elijah
Using the Passover holiday not only as a setting, but also as symbol, this story, told in diary form, chronicles 11-year-old Rebecca Samuelson's life after her father's heart attack. Rebecca decides to address her diary to Elijah, the Old Testament prophet, who, legend has it, visits Jewish houses at Passover. To "E" (as she calls him), Rebecca confides her fears for her father, her soul-searching about her own life, and lots and lots of details about Passover. The story is at its best when Rebecca gets to the truth about what life is for a kid and when she muses about religion, both her own and others. There are certainly too few books that deal with that topic.

from Booklist
The Saturday Secret
The Saturday Secret
Jason Siegel thinks his stepfather's new religious observances have gone far enough. First only kosher food at home. Then he is forced to wear a kippah (yarmulke). Now no baseball games on Shabbat! Jason is determined to play ball -- no matter what. But his plan backfires and Jason finds himself entangled in a situation that hurts his teammate’s feelings and jeopardizes his relationship with his mother and step-father.
Sefer Ha-Aggadah
Sefer Ha-Aggadah: The Book of Legends for Young Readers
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.

Ages 9-12

from School Library Journal


General Interest Nonfiction


Maus: Volume 1
Maus: A Survivor's Tale Volume 1: My Father Bleeds History


Maus: Volume 2
Maus: A Survivor's Tale Volume 2: And Here My Troubles Began
Told with chilling realism in an unusual comic-book format, this is more than a tale of surviving the Holocaust. Spiegelman relates the effect of those events on the survivors' later years and upon the lives of the following generation. Each scene opens at the elder Spiegelman's home in Rego Park, N.Y. Art, who was born after the war, is visiting his father, Vladek, to record his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Nazis, portrayed as cats, gradually introduce increasingly repressive measures, until the Jews, drawn as mice, are systematically hunted and herded toward the Final Solution. Vladek saves himself and his wife by a combination of luck and wits, all the time enduring the torment of hunted outcast. The other theme of this book is Art's troubled adjustment to life as he, too, bears the burden of his parents' experiences. This is a complex book. It relates events which young adults, as the future architects of society, must confront, and their interest is sure to be caught by the skillful graphics and suspenseful unfolding of the story.
From School Library Journal

1992 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Appropriate for High School Students -- NOT FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
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.
A Kid's Catalog of Israel
A Kid's Catalog of Israel
Mixed up about Israel: This book, newly revised, will tell you about the land and the people who live in it. You can try some Israeli crafts, and play some Israeli games. And you can learn about Israeli customs and history and read Israeli stories.
Remarkable Jewish Women
Remarkable Jewish Women: Rebels, Rabbis, and Other Women from Biblical Times to the Present
This updated, expanded, and more user-friendly version of the authors' Written Out of History (Bloch, 1978; o.p.) contains over 80 brief biographies, chronologically arranged. Introductory and background material is provided for each period. Coverage is impressively wide-ranging. Although some figures do not receive full entries, they are mentioned in other entries and listed in the index. Some of the subjects will be well known to readers familiar with Jewish history: Gluckel of Hameln, Dona Gracia Nasi, Rebecca Gratz, Hannah Szenes, Golda Meir, and Betty Friedan. Other entries introduce important but neglected personalities. Several heroines of the Holocaust are profiled. A major theme is women's role in religion. The handsome illustrations include numerous black-and-white photos from various archives and private collections, making this edition more accessible and visually appealing. This update highlights more current figures, placing particular emphasis on female rabbis and Talmudic scholars.

From School Library Journal
Heeding the Call
Heeding the Call : Jewish Voices in America's Civil Rights Struggle
Heeding the Call: Jewish Voices in America's Civil Rights Struggle chronicles the multifaceted role of Jewish Americans in the difficult struggle for civil rights. Their story will inspire the next generation of young Jews and African Americans to renew the legacy of cooperation which once united both groups

This outstanding book looks at the long and difficult fight for civil rights through the words and actions of selected Jewsih activists. To tell the story of the contributions Jews have made to this struggle, the author focuses on the work of four individuals whose work spans four centuries; Asser Levy, Rabbi David Einhorn, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Lillian Wald. Their work as well as the efforts of many others in the Jewish community, made significant difference in securing rights for all.

description from publisher
The All New Jewish Quiz Book
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.
The 
Book of Miracles
The Book of Miracles : A Young Person's Guide to Jewish Spiritual Awareness
From one of today's most innovative and creative theologians comes a book to introduce children to a way of spiritual thinking. Revealing the essence of Judaism in a language they can understand and enjoy, "The Book of Miracles" combines Talmud, midrash, mystical and biblical stories to help readers make and treasure the connections between traditional sources and modern living.

Still can't find what you're looking for? Search Amazon.com's database directly.

Books Music Video Enter keywords...


Amazon.com logo