9 Children’s Books About Standing Up for Others

A child standing in front of the US flag with their arm raised victoriously over their head while holding a sign that says 'I'm going to change the world'

Jewish tradition is filled with stories of people standing up for others. From Judah pleading with Joseph to spare brother Benjamin’s life, to Moses rebelling against his Egyptian upbringing to fight for the enslaved Israelites, to Queen Esther saving her people from destruction by Haman, the Bible shows time again what it means to be a mensch (Yiddish for “upstander”).

Related: 15 Kids’ Books Featuring Characters Who Speak Their Minds

Showing children examples of people speaking their minds and doing the right thing, even when it goes against popular opinion, is a great way to teach the Jewish value of ometz lev, or “strength of the heart.” For this book list, we’ve pulled together stories of real people and fictional characters who demonstrate this value and who aren’t afraid to speak up and speak out.  

Books for Elementary Age Readers

A group of children, one is holding a gavel.

Goldie Takes a Stand 
by Barbara Krasner

Recommended for ages 8+ Years

Young Goldie was a natural-born leader. Long before she became Golda Meir, the first female prime minister of Israel, she was tackling injustice in her hometown of Milwaukee!

A charicature of a determined Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy

Recommended for ages 8+ Years

Disagreeing does not necessarily make you disagreeable. Just ask Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman on the US Supreme Court. When she was a young girl, lots of people told her she didn’t have what it took to do the things she wanted to do, but she disagreed -- and proved them wrong. Now she shows the whole world that sometimes it’s important to say “I dissent!”

Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand
by Arthur Levine

Recommended for ages 7 to 8 Years

Pearl loved her street. She loved the people on her street, and she loved the trees on her street -- planted there by her mother years before. So when the city wants to cut them down, it’s time for Pearl to take a stand.

A doctor is speaking to children.

The Polio Pioneer: Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine
by Linda Elovitz Marshall

Polio was once a very common disease -- and a very scary one. Young Jonas Salk decided he wanted to figure out a way to help. Through hard work, perseverance, and the scientific method, he and his team led the way to a groundbreaking vaccine that helped in the project of tikkun olam, repairing the world -- one injection at a time.

A regal Queen in a yellow dress walks in front of two royally dressed men.

The Story of Esther
by Eric A. Kimmel

Recommended for ages 8+ Years

The Purim story, full of drama, brings together a mighty king, a jealous scoundrel, and a wise uncle. At its center is a clever heroine, Queen Esther. It was her courage that saved the Jewish people at a dangerous time.

Books for Middle Grade Readers

An array of scenes depicting video game characters in various escape room scenarios.

Click Here to Start
by Denis Markell

Recommended for ages 10+

Ted loves escape room video games, but this is real life! Can Ted and his friends solve the puzzle and stay one step ahead of the bad guys?

The Language of Spells
by Garret Weyr

Recommended for ages 10+

Grisha the dragon has been under a spell for 100 years. After he’s freed, he finds that all the other dragons have disappeared. Then he meets Maggie, the only human who can see him. Can the two rescue Grisha’s missing friends?

A boy carrying a book among a crowd of people

Maurice and His Dictionary
by Cary Fagan

Recommended for ages 9+

Fourteen-year-old Maurice longs to study law one day, but when the Nazis invade Belgium, his family must flee to the only place willing to take them in. Now he’s halfway across the world, living in a Jamaican refugee camp. How will he ever follow his dream?

A girl looks at her father while he is carving a cut tree trunk

The Woodcarver's Daughter
by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Recommended for ages 9+

12-year-old Batya wants nothing more than to become a woodcarver like her father, but she’s not allowed to because she’s a girl! Will things be any different for Batya in America?