Books

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

Want to discuss anti-Jewish prejudice with your kids, but don't know where to start? Choose any of these great books to break the ice.

By Alex Mlynek

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

The Purim Superhero

By Elisabeth Kushner, Illustrated by Mike Byrne

Ages 4 to 9

Reading books where the characters just happen to be of a different race or religion is one way to show similarities between kids from all different backgrounds, which helps counter bias. In The Purim Superhero, Nate wants to dress up as an alien for Purim, a carnival-esque Jewish holiday, but his schoolmates want to dress like superheroes. Nate’s two dads help him come up with a solution.

$12, amazon.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman

By Michelle Edwards, Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Ages 3 to 7

Mrs. Goldman, an older Jewish lady, and her neighbour, Sophia, a Latina girl, work together to make hats for everyone in their neighbourhood as a good deed. Mrs. Goldman knits them, while Sophia adds pom-poms. But one day Sophia surprises her friend with a hat of her own, which may not be perfect, but is made with love, and will keep her keppie (Yiddish for head) nice and warm.

$24, indigo.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

Mrs. Katz and Tush

Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

Ages 8+

Neighbours Mrs. Katz, an older Jewish woman who came to America from Poland, and Larnel, a school-aged black boy, become fast friends when Larnel gives Mrs. Katz a kitten, whom she names Tush (Yiddish for rear end). During their frequent visits, Mrs. Katz talks about her life, including experiences with prejudice, and tells stories about her late husband over plates of kugel, a noodle pudding. Their years-long friendship is so sweetly portrayed, and there are parallels drawn between the histories of black and Jewish persecution.

$10, amazon.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

Jumping Jenny

By Ellen Bari, Illustrated by Raquel García Maciá

Ages 5 to 8

Jenny likes to jump around on her pogo stick, but it causes a lot of problems. But in the end, her jumping comes in handy when her class decides to raise money for a school in Uganda as a mitzvah, which is a Jewish word for a kindness. Kids will learn that difference can be a good thing, but also may recognize themselves in the main character. 

$10, indigo.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate

By Janice Cohn, Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Ages 7 to 11

This book, illustrated with oil paintings, is based on the true story of how in 1993, a town came together to push back against hate crimes. After a rock is thrown through the window of a Jewish family’s home, in an act of solidarity for their neighbours, the people of Billings, Montana—many of whom aren’t Jewish—decide to place menorahs in their windows. This book offers an entry point into a discussion of the recent attacks faced by the Jewish community through bomb threats at Jewish community centres, daycares and vandalized gravestones, as well as a chance to talk about how people of all backgrounds can help each other.

$16, amazon.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

Penina Levine is a Hard-boiled Egg

By Rebecca O’Connell, Illustrated by Majella Lue Sue

Ages 9+

When sixth grader Penina Levine’s public school teacher asks her class to write letters to kindergartners where they pretend they are the Easter Bunny, Levine, who is one of only two Jewish kids in her class, is faced with a choice: do the assignment as asked and compromise her religious principles, or risk getting a bad mark. She goes for the latter. Penina Levine is a Hard-boiled Egg offers insight into what it’s like to have to face consequences for standing up for your beliefs. It also gives readers a sense of the bias kids can encounter, even in a supposedly neutral place like school.

$27, indigo.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story

By Ken Mochizuki, Illustrated by Dom Lee

Ages 6 to 11

One way to introduce young readers to the Holocaust is by teaching them about the helpers that saved lives during that time. Chihune Sugihara was the Japanese consul to Lithuania, when in 1940 Jewish refugees from Poland arrived at the consulate trying to get visas to Japan so they could escape the Nazis. This book is based on the words of Sugihara’s son Hiroki, who was five years old when his father rescued an estimated 10,000 Jewish people by granting them travel papers, in spite of his home country’s orders not to do so.

From $13, amazon.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

The Cats in Krasinski Square

By Karen Hesse, Illustrated by Wendy Watson

Ages 8 to 10

This picture book introduces kids to the Jewish Resistance. Two young Jewish sisters who have escaped the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland come up with a plan—at risk to their own lives—to sneak food into the ghetto to their friends by distracting the Gestapo with the help of cats.

$30, indigo.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

Benno and the Night of Broken Glass

By Meg Wiviott, Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon

Ages 7 to 11

The Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, was a series of pogroms that took place across the Reich. Benno and the Night of Broken Glass introduces kids to this event by looking at life in Berlin through the eyes of a cat (Benno) before the Kristallnacht, and after.

$11, indigo.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

The Number on My Grandfather’s Arm

By David A. Adler, Photographs by Rose Eichenbaum

Ages 3 to 8

This is a story shown through a series of black and white photographs and text about a young granddaughter who finds out that the number tattooed on her grandfather’s arm meant he was a survivor from the Auschwitz concentration camp. She then gently encourages him to show people these numbers. This book is praised for teaching kids about the Holocaust in a way that gives them age-appropriate information.

$12, amazon.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust

By Eve Bunting, Illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Ages 6 +

Everything is going well in the clearing in the woods, until the Terrible Things (which here represent the Nazis) come along and start taking creatures away; first the birds and then finally the rabbits, who thought themselves safe until it was their turn. This is a book that shows the importance of doing what’s right as soon as you see something bad happening, even if you believe this bad thing isn’t going to affect you.

$17, indigo.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

By Karen Gray Ruelle, Illustrated by Deborah Durland DeSaix

Ages 10+

Another title about helpers, this book, which details how Jewish people were sheltered in the Grand Mosque of Paris and given aid with safe passage when the city was occupied by Nazis, seems particularly relevant given what marginalized groups are facing today.

$12, amazon.ca

12 kids' books that combat anti-Semitism

This article was originally published on Feb 27, 2017
FILED UNDER:
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement