11 Books About the Jewish Value of Caring For Animals

Boy with Lamb

Did you know that showing kindness towards animals isn’t just a menschy thing to do—it’s a mitzvah! The children’s books in this list illustrate the Jewish value of compassion for animals, tz'ar ba'alei chayim, in Hebrew. In addition to reading the books below, here are six easy ways to show kindness to animals with your family.

Adam’s Animals

Adam’s Animals by Barry L. Schwartz

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

Here in the Garden of Eden, Adam has a big job: God has asked him to name all the animals from A to Z! Some of them you've heard of and some may be new to you.

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street by Ann Redisch Stample

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Mrs. Spiegel loves her two cats, but it’s clear that her grouchy neighbor, Mr. Modiano, doesn’t share her warm feelings. Should we be surprised that, when one of the cats goes missing, it is Mr. Modiano who searches the streets of Tel Aviv to find her?

Chicken Man

Chicken Man by Michelle Edwards

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

An Israeli kibbutz is the setting for this tale in which a man always does his best regardless of the job he is given, though he’d prefer to be working in the chicken coops. Read The Origins of Chicken Man for some fun facts about how author Michelle Edwards was inspired to write this story.

A Hanukkah With Mazel

A Hanukkah With Mazel by Joel Stein

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

Poor Misha! He spends Hanukkah all by his lonesome... until Mazel, a hungry barn cat, strolls into his life. Misha may not have enough money to light Hanukkah candles, but with a little luck -- or Mazel! -- he can use his art to bring some light to the holiday.

A Hen for Izzy Pippik

A Hen for Izzy Pippik by Aubrey Davis

Recommended for ages 6 to 8

What’s a girl to do when she finds a chicken and can’t return it to its owner? How long should she wait before calling the bird (and its many offspring!) her own? Shaina seems prepared to wait forever for Izzy Pippik to return.

How to Heal a Broken Wing

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

This quiet story of a boy, a bird, and a broken wing relates the power of compassion, patience, and hope.

Ketzel the Cat Who Composed

Ketzel the Cat Who Composed by Lesléa Newman

Age Recommendation

Moshe was a composer -- and he was inspired by the sounds he heard every day in Israel. But one day he heard a very small sound -- and it came from Ketzel the kitten! Ketzel went home with Moshe and helped him make beautiful music. Learn more about why PJ Library chose this book.

King David and Akavish the Spider by Sylvia Rouss

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Once upon a time, a boy named David aimed his slingshot at a big spider web -- but the spider convinced him not to destroy the web. When he grew up, David became king -- and the spider became an important friend.

Not This Turkey

Not This Turkey by Jessica Steinberg

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Mel's family is new to America, and they've never celebrated Thanksgiving. When Papa wins a live turkey at his job, they decide this is the year to start. But Mel grows fond of Indik, the turkey. He's desperate to know -- is it possible to celebrate Thanksgiving without roast turkey?

A Parakeet Named Dreidel

A Parakeet Named Dreidel by Isaac Signer

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

A parakeet shows up at David’s family’s window one snowy Hanukkah night. When they can’t track down his owners, they happily adopt him as their own pet. But many years later David meets the bird’s original owner, Zelda. How can they both keep the parakeet? This book also teaches an important lesson about the Jewish value of returning lost items. Learn more about why we chose this book.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

Every day, zookeeper Amos McGee rides the bus to the zoo, where he plays chess with the elephant, races the tortoise, and reads stories to the owl. But one day he feels too sick to go to work, so his animal friends hop on the bus to visit him! Learn more about why PJ Library chose this book.