Meaningful Jewish Children’s Books


PJ Library continues to be an amazing gift – for children and parents.

Oh, the thrill of seeing that oversized blue and white envelope in your mailbox each month, and watching as your kid gleefully tears it open! Because, sure, bedtime may not always be a picnic –but beautiful new books make it a more relaxing, more exciting and more meaningful time of day for everyone. (If you’re not already receiving free monthly books, sign up at pjlibrary.org.) Here are some PJ Library standouts:

That’s a Mitzvah – By Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman, Illustrations by Laurel Molk. All parents want their children to be good to others – and with this spirited, song-like book, children can see how many varied, and simple, ways there are to make a difference: Monkeys are “nice to someone new,” polar bears “share food with others,” beavers say “I forgive you,” and various other critters visit the sick, return lost items and show “family love.”

Netta and Her Plant – By Ellie B. Gellman, Illustrations by Natascia Ugliano. Netta’s facing a lot of change: a new bed, a new house and the arrival of a baby sister. She gets through these milestones with the support of her family – and with the example of the seedling she plants on Tu B’Shevat, which grows, changes and blossoms along with her. It’s a touching story that children going through any kind of transition will feel connected to and reassured by.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat – By Simms Taback. First published in 1977, there’s a reason this winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal has had such staying power: Its message, that “you can always make something out of nothing,” is timeless. Little fingers will delight in exploring the strategic cutouts throughout the pages and taking in the image-rich drawings, which Taback updated in ’99.

Good Night, Laila Tov – By Laurel Snyder, Illustrations by Jui Ishida. Beautiful watercolor-like images accompany this sweet rhyming tale of a Jewish family enjoying outdoor adventures for the day – playing at the beach, gathering berries in a meadow, planting trees in the spirit of tikkun olam (healing the world). Kids always giggle at the ever-relatable line, “We stopped for dinner, stopped to see…Stopped again so I could pee” – while adults relish the ending, when the parents fall asleep on the couch and the kids tuck them in after a long day.

All of Me: A Book of Thanks – By Molly Bang. One of the most moving PJ Library selections of all, this poetic story, with its collage-style and mixed-material images, highlights for children how wondrous their bodies – and feelings – are. One part reads: “Today I felt so many feelings. I felt curious, and excited, and angry, and brave, and sad, and scared, and shy, and happy, and thankful, and calm.” It’s a book that fosters a special opportunity for all of us to take a moment to be grateful for everything we have, everything we can do and how altogether amazing each day really is.

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