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Jewish American Heritage Month 2019

May is Jewish American Heritage Month! The Boston Public Library has a good list of books to get you started exploring the (varied) Jewish experience in the U.S. Check out The Knish War on Rivington Street for a glimpse into the early-twentieth-century Lower East Side (and two knish recipes); or All Three Stooges for a contemporary middle-grade story centered around Hebrew school; or No Truth Without Ruth for a biography of national treasure Ruth Bader Ginsburg; or The Length of a String for two stories, set in different times, of Jews living between cultures.

Also see this past year’s Sydney Taylor Book Award list (as a current committee member, I’m partial); many of the winners/honors/notables (including some mentioned above) celebrate American Jews, from picture book A Moon for Moe and Mo to YA novel You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone. Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant from Russia who eventually wrote “God Bless America,” pops up in not one but two picture-book biographies on the Notable list.

And of course, there’s Younger Readers winner All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah, particularly appropriate for this year’s theme of American Jewish illustrators — check out Paul O. Zelinsky’s meticulously researched illustrations of Emily’s Jenkins’s story, which is equally so. (Don’t miss the original All-of-a-Kind Family novels by Sydney Taylor, either! And take our quiz to find out: which sibling are you?)

Also see the Love Your Neighbor lists from the Association of Jewish Libraries, and Heidi Rabinowitz’s Diverse Jewish Kidlit bibliography, for more titles celebrating and shedding light on Jewish heritage here and around the world.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a slowly growing pile of this year’s Jewish books, many of them highlighting American Jewish heritage, waiting for me to read them. And happy Lag Ba’Omer!

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for this post and for the wonderful recommendations. I would like to point out that there were actually three picture book biographies of both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Irving Berlin released at around the same time. They really complement one another, and it would be fun to ask kids to compare them.
    I have just read that, sadly, Judith Kerr has died. She was the acclaimed Jewish author of “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,” probably one of the best-known books about the Holocaust era for younger readers.

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