Pesach is almost here and I would like to get English Jewish literature as afikoman presents for my children. What do you recommend?
A Jewish Mom in Israel
Dear Jewish Mom,
The answer for that really depends on the level of reading and the intensity of Judaism that you are looking for in a book. Here are a variety of ideas:
1) Yaffa Ganz is a prolific children's author with many very Jewish themes and characters for young children just starting to read who want to read on their own or be read to.
2)Another young children's book is "The Keeping Quilt" by Patricia Polacco. It tells the story of a quilt that stays in the Jewish family for generations through many new beginnings. (Note - this is culturally rather than halachically Jewish book)
3) "Something from Nothing" by Phoebe Gilman is a retelling of a Yiddish folktale.
4) Young readers might enjoy "Molly's Pilgrim" by Barbara Cohen. It tells the story of what pilgrims really are when Molly, a new immigrant to American encounters Thanksgiving.
5) "A Gift for Mama" by Esther Hautzig is another short story based on her own experiences growing up in Poland.
6) Older children might be interested in the "Baker's Dozen" series by Miriam Zakon which tells the story of an American Jewish religious family with 12 children (including a set of quintuplets). Definitely contains very religious overtones.
7) "All of a Kind Family" series by Sydney Taylor is a classical series for older readers (4th-6th graders) of a Jewish immigrant family living in the lower East Side of New York in the early 1900's. This family is all of a kind – there are only five daughters in the family!
Lists at the Pajama Library Project or at Kar-ben book publishing and Artscroll can provide many more ideas. Jacob Richman has also sent in this list of recommended books from the Jewish Journal.
I know that there are a lot of self published authors out there. So if you know of anyone who has written and published their own Jewish children's books - tell us about it in the comments below!
With best wishes for a happy and Kosher Pesach,
Gaila has almost 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns