Are you struggling to answer a big question from your child? Or having a tough time addressing an incident they may have seen on the news or heard about from peers?
When children are having big feelings, familiarity brings calm. Use one of these books to remind children that while things may feel scary and sad now, they can still take refuge in a favorite story. The buttons below will take you to a variety of book lists, curated by topic, that give parents a starting point for tackling tough conversations with children.
For more resources for families please see:
How to Talk to Kids About Scary Situations
Videos to Help Kids Through Scary Situations
How to Talk to Kids About Anti-Semitism
Use the buttons below to find books about the following topics:
BOOKS ABOUT IMMIGRATION
Many Jewish families have immigration as part of their stories -- and for families who discuss current events together, the status of refugees and immigrants is an often covered topic.
The role of HIAS in settling Jewish refugees in the 19th and 20th centuries has been enormous. As the organization has stated, “we used to resettle refugees because THEY were Jewish, now we do so because WE are Jewish.” It is incumbent upon us to engage in acts of hachnasat orchim, welcoming the stranger.
These books tell stories of the immigrant experience:
All Kinds of Strong
Anna and Solomon
The Always Prayer Shawl
The Castle on Hester Street
Feivel’s Flying Horses
The Key From Spain
The Knish War on Rivington Street
Lilah Tov: Good Night
The Memory Coat
My Grandfather’s Coat
My Name is Aviva
What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street
When Jessie Came Across the Sea
BOOKS ABOUT WELCOMING OTHERS
The list below features books that emphasize the importance of welcoming others. Families may also enjoy listening to the audio story, Sweet-Town Rivals from PJ Library's podcast, Have I Got a Story For You!
Bitter and Sweet
Much, Much Better
Sammy Spider’s New Friend
BOOKS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP
At a time when acts of racially motivated hate and antisemitism are at a high here in the United States, these are books that feature the beauty of diversity and the importance of coming together across racial and religious lines. These are the stories that will cultivate an appreciation for and an understanding of the other.
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup
Chik Chak Shabbat
My Face Book
One City, Two Brothers
Snow in Jerusalem
A Tale of Two Mountains
Tikvah Means Hope
Yaffa and Fatima
Find more suggestions and book ideas in this list of Children’s Books About Friendship
Related: What’s Jewish About Respecting Differences?
BOOKS ABOUT BEING JEWISH
Some may be hoping to facilitate conversations about why it’s important to publicly proclaim our Judaism now more than ever. A mezuzah is a public proclamation of faith for all to see. These books delve deeper into that:
A Mezuzah on the Door
The Shema in the Mezuzah
Find more suggestions in the list Books About Being Jewish
BOOKS ABOUT MAKING A DIFFERENCE
When we’re feeling like the problems of the world may be too big for us to fix, these books show us that we can help. In fact, research shows that helping others really does make us feel better. Children will feel empowered by these examples of one small person having a big impact.
In addition to the books listed below, families can also enjoy this tzedakah-themed episode of PJ Library's story-telling podcast, Have I Got a Story For You!
10 Things I Can Do To Help My World
26 Big Things Little Hands Can Do
Chicken Soup by Heart
The Cholent Brigade
Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman
How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box
How to Heal a Broken Wing
I Can Help
Judah Touro Didn't Want to Be Famous
One Good Deed
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Rosie Saves the World
Thanks for Today
Tikkun Olam Ted
Trees of the Dancing Goats
BOOKS ABOUT SPEAKING UP
For those looking to be inspired to speak out and stand up for what they believe in, the following titles are wonderful choices.
Goldie Takes a Stand
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
For more recommendations, see 15 Children’s Books Featuring Characters Who Speak Their Minds
BOOKS TO SET ROUTINES
Children, and all of us really, thrive when there is regularity and ritual in our lives. If you’re looking for books to cultivate that practice, these are excellent choices.
The Bedtime Sh’ma
The Peace Book
Related: Creating a Simple Bedtime Routine for Babies and Toddlers
BOOKS TO HELP COPE WITH LOSS
Seeing examples of other who have experienced loss and sadness but gotten through it helps children to see that there is a future beyond this sad time. While PJ Library does not distribute books for young children that explicitly explore death and dying, this book does address loss.
Mrs. Katz and Tush
For more recommendations around books that can help children cope with illness or death, read Children’s Books About Death and Illness.
Related: How to Talk to Kids About Death and Dying
Children's and Middle Grade Books That Mirror the Diversity of Jewish Communities
Resources For Talking With Children About Racism
Table Talk: Family Conversations about Current Events via The ADL
October 30, 2020