There has been a lot on Kveller about books for Jewish children but I have not seen any mention of my own favorites. So, after decades of reading to my children and grandchildren, here are my own top 10 picks for you to share with the children you love (between the ages of 3-8, all available on Amazon):
3. The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch by Carol Chapman: Need a laugh with a life lesson? This might be just the book for adults, too.
4. Joseph Who Loved the Sabbath retold by Marilyn Hirsh: A classic folktale based on Talmudic sources.
5. Brothers: A Hebrew Legend retold by Florence B. Freedman: The retelling of a legend with a loving message.
6. Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen: I am giving my granddaughter the American Girl doll “Rebecca Rubin” for her 4th birthday. First I’ll read this story to her about a young Jewish immigrant to America.
7. Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco: I only recently found this book and love it! A moving, sweet story about an elderly Jewish woman and her African-American neighbors.
Although without an obvious “Jewish” theme, I also heartily recommend the following:
1. AndTango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell: The true story of gay penguins (you got that right) in the Central Park Zoo and the egg they hatch together. Tango, their baby, completes their family.
2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: Some people think that the main character is selfish and don’t like this book. But if you identify with the tree, rather than the boy, it is a beautiful story illustrated with terrific line drawings. As I age, it gets more and more poignant.
3. And my all-time favorite book which I have read six times and loved every time (my own first reading at age 7, four readings with each of my children, and one more with my oldest grandchildren): Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Loyalty, friendship, and love are explored in the loveliest of stories. And it has the best last sentences ever written: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
So snuggle and enjoy!