Jewish Books Celebrating Black History

Looking for a great book to read during Black History month? The books in this list feature stories about incredible historical figures, as well as biographies, historical fiction, and characters overcoming adversity. We've included books with a Jewish connection as well as titles from PJ Library and PJ Our Way authors.

The list below is separated by age. Browse by section to find titles about the Black Jewish experience, great moments in Black history from Jewish authors, and #ownvoices stories. 

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Picture Books

Related: Children's and Middle Grade Books That Mirror the Diversity of Jewish Communities

As Good As Anybody

As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson

Recommended for ages 6 to 9

A Baptist preacher from Atlanta. A rabbi born in Poland. Their names came to stand for the struggle for justice and equality.


Fridays Are Special

Fridays Are Special by Chris Barash

Recommended for ages 0 to 3

For this child’s family, Fridays aren’t like other days. On Fridays, the hustle and bustle is a little different. Everyone seems to be getting ready for something special -- something cozy and wonderful. What could it be? You can also follow the family in this book in the story Antlers With Candles.


King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba by Blu Greenberg and Linda Tarry

Recommended for ages 8 and up

When the Queen of Sheba comes to Jerusalem to test the King’s celebrated wisdom, he answers each of her questions while sharing the wonders of his world.


A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Recommended for ages 8 and up

When Ezra Jack Keats was growing up, he knew what it was like to feel different and left out. So when he created his famous picture book, A Snowy Day, he had an idea about how to write and draw his main character, Peter.


Saturdays Are Special by Chris Barash

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

In this child’s household, Shabbat is different from the rest of the week -- slower, quieter, more peaceful. Most of all, everyone has more time to spend with one another. That’s what makes Saturdays so special.

Middle Grade Books

Bluish

Bluish by Virginia Hamilton

Recommended for ages 8 to 12

Friendship isn't always easy. Natalie is different from the other girls in Dreenie's fifth-grade class. She comes to school in a wheelchair, always wearing a knitted hat. The kids call her "Bluish" because her skin is tinted blue from chemotherapy. Dreenie is fascinated by Bluish, and a little scared of her, too. She watches Bluish and writes her observations in her journal. Slowly, the two girls become good friends. But Dreenie still struggles with with Bluish's illness.Description provided by Scholastic.


Port Chicago 50

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Recommended for ages 10 and up

This book, from PJ Library and PJ Our Way author, Steve Sheinkin, follows a group of young African-American sailors who are assigned to load ammunition at Port Chicago, a segregated naval base in California. The men are never trained to handle ammunition safely, and when a terrifying disaster strikes the base, they are forced to decide between following orders and taking a stand.


Stealing Home by Ellen Schwartz

Recommended for ages 11 and up

Baseball is a great escape, but can it solve your problems? Nine year-old Joey Sexton has to grow up fast – his African American dad is gone, his Jewish mother just died, and now he has been sent to live with his mother’s family in Brooklyn. Joey’s zayde (grandfather) acts as though Joey can’t do anything right. Sure, Joey can play a mean game of baseball, but is that enough to impress the person whose affection he wants most?

Young Adult Books

Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self​ by Rebecca Walker

In this book, Rebecca Leventhal Walker attempts to define herself as a soul instead of a symbol—and offers a new look at the challenge of personal identity, in a story at once strikingly unique and truly universal.


Color Me In by Natasha Díaz

Color Me In is a coming of age story about Nevaeh, a white passing, biracial, Jewish 15-year-old, who learns how to own her privilege as she searches for her place within her two very different worlds and prepares for a belated bat mitzvah. Description from the author's website.


Little and Lion

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she’s isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (as well as her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

International Stories

The Storyteller's Beads by Jane Kurtz

Recommended for ages 9 and up

Sahay and Rahel are all alone, traveling through strange and dangerous territory in Ethiopia, trying to reach Jerusalem.


Too Far From Home by Naomi Shmuel

Recommended for ages 9 and up

When her mom gets a big promotion, Meskerem must leave her beloved home and start school in a new town far away. As if that’s not bad enough, now she’s the only kid of color in the entire fifth grade! Will she ever fit in and make friends?


Yosef's Dream by Sylvia Rouss

Recommended for ages 8 and up

When Yosef was a child in Ethiopia, he had a strange dream, one that didn’t make sense until later when he -- along with thousands of others in his community -- was flown to Israel as part of Operation Solomon. Sometimes our dreams tell us more than we know.


Yuvi’s Candy Tree by Lesley Simpson

Recommended for ages 8 and up

Based on a true story, this book tells of Yuvi’s extraordinary journey from Ethiopia to Israel.

More

My Kids Are Black and Jewish. To Them, These Identities Are Inseparable via kveller
Love Your Neighbor: Book List: The Black Jewish Experience via Association of Jewish Libraries