May is Canadian Jewish Heritage Month. In recognition of this month, here is a reading list of books for young readers by Jewish Canadians.
The sun will come out is the story of a girl and her first summer away from home. Overnight camp promises to be a new experience – and the best summer ever – for Bea Gelman and her best friend Frankie. But Bea is painfully shy, and the mean pranks the other girls play on her don’t help her at all. When Bea meets a boy named Henry, she realizes that we all have our own challenges and it takes strength and a positive outlook on life to overcome them.
The sun will come out is for ages 9 to 12.
Joanne Levy is an Ontario author of children’s books, including Double trouble and A fish out of water. She is also the author of the mid-level novels Crush it and the Red Maple Award-nominated Small Medium Large.
Shiva sitting is a picture book that reflects on loss and grief. When a child loses his mother, friends and family gather to sit shiva, a seven-day period of mourning for the death of a family member observed in Jewish homes. The child learns more about love and healing in the process.
Shiva sitting is for ages 3 to 5.
Erin Silver is a Toronto-based journalist, author and blogger.
Michelle Theodore is an artist and illustrator from Edmonton.
I love you more is a picture book about a child named Des and the power of love. The story is an affirmative look at how kindness in the community crosses boundaries of gender, race, and age.
I love you more is for ages 3 to 8.
Emil Sher is a Toronto author and playwright. His work includes young man with camera, A way and the picture book Mittens to share, illustrated by Irène Luxbacher. Sher wrote the theatrical adaptations of Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine and The boy in the moon by Ian Brown, and the screenplay and lyrics to a musical by Roch Carrier The hockey sweater.
Children’s author Barbara Reid, who uses modeling clay to illustrate her stories, has written several bestselling books, including imagine a tree and Sing a Mother Goose song. In 2013, Reid was named a Member of the Order of Canada. Among his many awards, his picture book Celebration won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature in 1997. In 2013, Reid received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, which recognizes a writer’s lifetime achievement.
His book Picture The Sky was a finalist for the 2018 TD Prize for Canadian Children’s Literature and received the most votes from young readers in CBC’s Fan Choice contest.
In war stories, Trevor loves to play video games based on war and his great-grandfather Jacob is a true authentic war hero. Decades after helping liberate a small French village, Jacob wants to retrace the steps he took during the war – with Trevor. But as they arrive at the village, Trevor finds there’s more to Jacob’s story than he’s heard his whole life.
war stories is for ages 8 to 12
Gordon Korman is the bestselling author of over 80 children’s books. He wrote his first book, This can’t happen at Macdonald Hallwhen he was in 7th grade.
In A boy is not a ghost by Edeet Ravel, Natt is torn from his Eastern European home. He finds himself stranded with other deportees in a schoolyard in Novosibirsk. And he’s about to find out that life can be worse than the horrific two months he and his mother spent on a bug-infested cattle train. When his mother is falsely arrested for stealing potatoes, Natt must learn to live the life of an exile on his own.
A boy is not a ghost is for ages 9 to 12.
Edeet Ravel is an Israeli-born, Montreal-raised novelist. She is the author of the novel A wall of light2005 Giller Prize finalist.
A fight for hope is a gripping story of survival and hope. Ruth survived the Holocaust and the long journey to Palestine. Now she once again finds herself in a war zone as Israel fights for its existence. As Ruth grapples with her new situation, she realizes she must keep going – and never give up hope.
A fight for hope is for ages 9 to 12.
Carol Matas is an award-winning author from Winnipeg who has written 46 books for young people. His other books include Lisa, which won the Geoffrey Bilson Prize for Historical Fiction for Young Readers, jesper, Daniel’s story and After the war.
This YA novel is set in Germany in the late 1930s and a teenager named Paul is pressured to join the Hitler Youth. He really doesn’t want to be part of the group and finds a potential way out when he encounters a group of teenagers working to undermine the growing Nazi threat. When the violence in his town escalates, Paul must make a decision about what kind of person he needs to be to survive.
under the iron bridge is for ages 12 and up.
Kathy Kacer is a prolific Toronto-based author whose parents were both Holocaust survivors. His books, including Hide Edith and masters of silence explore the lives of young Jews who lived during this time.
Set during World War II, names in a jar is a children’s novel about hope, understanding and courage. Anna is a young girl living in the Warsaw ghetto with her sister Lina and her father. Life is hard in times of war and people are often hungry and sick. When Anna finds herself in charge of an orphaned baby, they go into hiding and change names and identities to survive. Lina is sent to the infamous Treblinka camp and the sisters must find their way back to each other.
names in a jar is for ages 13 and up.
Jennifer Gold is the author of several books for young adults, including soldier doll and on the spectrum. Lawyer and mother of two children and two cats, she lives with her family in Toronto.
In water water, a boy named Rafe wakes up one morning to find that his bedroom is floating offshore. Forced to fish for food, Rafe finds himself thrust into a damp, otherworldly adventure involving a strange young girl and a strange new world.
water water is for ages 9 to 12.
Cary Fagan is an Ontario author of books for adults and children. His children’s books include popular novels by Kaspar Snit, both volumes Master Melville’s Medicine Show and the picture book Mr. Zinger’s Hat. He is also the author of the novel A bird’s eye, a finalist for the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize and Amazon.ca Best Book of the Year. In 2014, Fagan received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People for lifetime achievement. Her 2019 novel, The studentwas a finalist for the Toronto Book Award and the Governor General’s Literary Award.
Jon McNaught is a London-based illustrator, printmaker and lecturer.
Inspired by a True Story, Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure is the story of an orphan boy named Jacob living in Poland in the 1920s. Life is hard but Jacob finds happiness playing in the orphanage’s mandolin orchestra. When Jacob and his friends are introduced to an American who promises to take them to a new school in Canada, they embark on a perilous journey by train and boat. Jacob must overcome all obstacles to achieve his dream of playing at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York.
Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure is for ages 9 to 12.
Anne Dublin is a Toronto-based author and former teacher-librarian. She is also the author of two historical fiction novels for young people, The rescue of orphans and 44 hours or strike!.