A Big List of Books That Teach Kids About Getting Along at Home

Every parent has had one of those days – you know, the day where, for whatever reason, the kids are at war over a toy you forgot they had, everyone in the family is running behind schedule, and everyone is talking at rather than to each other. When mired in the parenting trenches, it can feel really tough to take a deep breath and remember that everyone in the family is on the same team.

In Judaism there’s a concept called shalom bayit that translates to “peace in the home.” This concept originally represented a standard to uphold between spouses, but today shalom bayit is more of a reminder about the ways that everyone in the family can contribute to a loving home with respect, kindness, and care.

The books in this list feature stories about compromising, working with family members, starting special traditions at home, and sharing space. Want to learn more about shalom bayit? Check out these activities and videos.

The Friday Nights of Nana by Amy Hest and Claire A. Nivola

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

In this contemporary intergenerational tale, Jennie and her grandmother find happiness in their joint preparations for the Sabbath.

A Horse for Hanukkah by Myriam Halberstam and Nancy Cote

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

Hannah gets the horse she has always wanted as a gift for Hanukkah. The challenges of living with a horse – one that speaks Hebrew, no less! -- in a cramped apartment soon become apparent.

It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach

Recommended for ages 3 to 6

In this beloved tale from Eastern Europe, a distraught man discovers a positive attitude for dealing with the overcrowding in his small home.

Kayla and Kugel by Ann D. Koffsky

Recommended for ages 2 to 3

Kugel the dog loves Shabbat, and loves helping his human, Kayla, get the house ready! At least, he thinks he’s helping...Kayla might say otherwise! In the end, everyone learns the importance of shalom bayit -- peace in the home.

Kishka for Koppel by Aubrey Davis and Sheldon Cohen

Recommended for ages 8+

In this retelling of a Jewish tale, a magic meat grinder helps a poor Jewish couple recognize their blessings after the three wishes it grants them don’t bring the happiness they expect.

The Littlest Pair by Sylvia A. Rouss and Holly Hannon

Recommended for ages 2 to 4

There isn’t one animal happy to see a pair of termites come aboard their temporary floating home. When things aboard the ark get slippery and uncomfortable and the little termites have a solution to their problem, all those creatures quickly change their tune.

Many Days, One Shabbat by Fran Manushkin and Maria Monescillo

Recommended for ages 1 to 2

A family prepares for Shabbat together in a variety of ways and then enjoys the very special time with each other and with guests.

The Mountain Jews and the Mirror by Ruchama King Freuerman and Polona Kosec

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Newlyweds Yosef and Estrella have spent their entire lives as very simple mountain folk. But now they’ve moved to the big city, where they encounter many new -- and confusing -- things. Will their brand new marriage survive this comedy of errors?

Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Bartoletti and Holly Meade

Recommended for ages 2 to 3

You know the story of Noah. But have you ever heard of Naamah, his wife? This story gives you a sense of what she had to deal with for forty days and forty nights!


Oy! Feh! So? by Cary Fagan and Gary Clement

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Aunt Chanah, Aunt Essy, and Uncle Sam are really, really predictable. No matter what you do, they always say the same things: “oy,” “feh,” and “so?”. One day their niece and nephew try to get them to say something else. The result is funny for everyone -- and a nice reminder of how special family is.

Rosie Saves the World by Debbie Herman and Tammie Lyon

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Rosie is gung-ho to perform good deeds for everyone in her neighborhood. She wants to save the world! But what about the things her family needs her to do? She's about to learn that tikkun olam, saving the world, starts in one's very own home.

The Schmutzy Family by Madelyn Rosenberg and Paul Meisel

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

The Schmutzys are messy all week long, and no one seems to care a bit. When Friday rolls around, everyone helps clean up as the family prepares for Shabbat.

Someone for Mr. Sussman by Patricia Polacco and Polacco Polacco

Recommended for ages 7 to 8+

In this contemporary tale, humor and perseverance are necessary for a matchmaker to find just the right someone for a very picky bachelor. As Bubbie always says: There’s no pot so crooked that there isn’t a lid to fit it!

A Song for My Sister by Lesley Simpson and Tatjana Mai-Wyss

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

Mira’s wish for a baby in the family comes true, but who knew how much noise she would make? No matter what Mira and her parents do, the baby’s reaction is WAAAA. On the day of her simchat bat (Jewish welcoming ceremony for a baby girl) Mira finallyfinds the answer to all the wailing!

Terrible, Terrible by Robin Bernstein and Shauna Mooney-Kawasaki

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

In this contemporary take on a beloved Jewish folktale, a rabbi helps Abigail discover the wonderful aspects of her newly-blended family.