The best books for Jewish kids?

Kveller presented one bubby’s Top 10 Books for Jewish Kids this week. The first seven are Jewish books, the last three are secular books that the author of the list feels can benefit Jewish kids. I’ve got some issues with the list.

1) There are many great books on the list, including one that I put on my own listThe Magician by Uri Smulevitz — and one I probably should have  — Yussel’s Prayer by Barbara Cohen — but what surprised me was that none of the books were from Jewish publishers. No The Invisible Book? No Eric Ray’s Sofer? Nothing by Yaffa Ganz?

2) The list is also low on books with contemporary settings, especially in 20th/21st Israel. No Chicken Man?

3) The first seven are all picture books, as if there are no Jewish novels. It’s only in the secular books do we see anything of any length.

4) And then the three secular books on the list…

I just don’t understand why she chose those books. Only one book do I even really like, and I don’t understand why it would specifically be on a Jewish list. Does it have a Jewish message? Not really. There are many secular books that do, and she could have picked one of those: Three Good Deeds, Enemy Pie, The Empty Pot, or The OK Book, all come to mind.

I want to hear from you (especially if  you are a teacher, librarian, mom or grandparent of Jewish kids): what books do you think belong on the Top 10 Books for Jewish Kids list?

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4 thoughts on “The best books for Jewish kids?

  1. I don’t put too much stock in all these “lists.” Maybe they are not exposed to or aware of all the publishing houses that they left out of their list. Also, often people will judge a children’s book by the illustration and if they are not excited by a book’s illustrations, they will ignore the good material. Anyway, that’s my take on it.

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  2. I am SO with you on this one!! Are the books on the list supposed to be “classics”–ones the bubbe remembers from days of yore which have stood the test of time? Because she’s missing some other classics. No All-of-a-Kind Family??!!!

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    • Perfect example: The All-of-a-Kind Family!

      Or (in a similar vein) what about The Carp in the Bathtub or other books about Jewish New York experiences of the first half of the 20th century? Without a handle on that period, you don’t really “get” a lot of later cultural references.

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