The best picture books that are Jewish&

Why am I passionate about this?

As a Jew that is both Ashkenazi and Persian that lives in Hong Kong where I’m raising my Jewish Chinese children, I see Judaism for its rich diversity. I’m passionate about changing people’s perceptions about what Jews look like and where we hail from. We are not a single story. To further that goal, in 2009, I founded Asian Jewish Life - a journal of spirit, society, and culture, have penned book chapters and articles on Jewish Asia, have written children’s books about communities that are Jewish&, and have lectured internationally on related topics. These books are about Jewish communities, but they’re really about family and tradition. Read diverse books! 


I wrote...

Book cover of Zhen Yu and the Snake

What is my book about?

Long ago, in the Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, a girl named Zhen Yu wanders away from her father at a busy market. A mysterious fortune teller helps Zhen Yu’s father find her, but also warns him his daughter will be bitten by a snake on her wedding night. Years later, as Zhen Yu is dressing for her wedding, there’s a knock on the door. Although it’s her wedding day, she’s not too busy to show kindness to a stranger. She opens the door, sticking her hairpin into the silk wall, unknowingly killing the lurking snake. 

“It was the mitzvah of giving to the poor that kept you safe,” says her father. Based on the Talmudic tale of Rabbi Akiva’s daughter and a snake.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Two New Years

Erica Lyons Why did I love this book?

This book is a beautiful marriage of Chinese and Jewish cultures.

Living in Hong Kong and raising Chinese Jewish children, it was a joy to find another book that shows where these traditions merge. The lively illustrations and simple text make it the perfect way to show these parallels to children. It is a story about the love of family and tradition. 

By Richard Ho, Lynn Scurfield (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two New Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

This warm and welcoming New Year celebration invites readers to learn about Rosh Hashanah and Lunar New Year traditions and to reflect on the rich blends of cultures and traditions in their own lives. For this multicultural family, inspired by the author's own, two New Years mean twice as much to celebrate! In the fall, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah offers an opportunity to bake challah, dip apples in honey, and lift voices in song. In the spring, the Chinese Lunar New Year brings a chance to eat dumplings, watch dragon dances, and release glowing lanterns that light up…


Book cover of Tia Fortuna's New Home

Erica Lyons Why did I love this book?

There’s a beautiful rhythm to this book that will keep readers coming back.

Spanish and Ladino are woven into the English text in a way that reflects what it’s like to live within several identities. It is a wonderfully told story about the meaning of home and the importance of tradition. The brightly-colored, rich illustrations make this an easy story to get lost in though home is never far.

By Ruth Behar, Devon Holzwarth (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tia Fortuna's New Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A poignant multicultural ode to family and what it means to create a home as one girl helps her Tía move away from her beloved Miami apartment.

When Estrella's Tía Fortuna has to say goodbye to her longtime Miami apartment building, The Seaway, to move to an assisted living community, Estrella spends the day with her. Tía explains the significance of her most important possessions from both her Cuban and Jewish culture, as they learn to say goodbye together and explore a new beginning for Tía.

A lyrical book about tradition, culture, and togetherness, Tía Fortuna's New Home explores Tía…


Book cover of Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World's First Female Rabbi

Erica Lyons Why did I love this book?

Osnat and her Dove is so much more than a book that reflects Iraqi Jewish culture.

It is a book that will inspire girls to see the limitless possibilities that they have to choose their own paths. It’s a window into a community and history that readers likely know little about. The layered gouache illustrations create the illusion of texture and make the book even more magical. 

By Sigal Samuel, Vali Mintzi (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Osnat and Her Dove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Osnat was born five hundred years ago - at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read.

Yet Osnat's father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books. And she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world's first female rabbi!

Some say Osnat performed miracles - like healing a dove who had been shot by a hunter! Or saving a congregation from fire!

But perhaps her greatest feat was to be…


Book cover of The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda

Erica Lyons Why did I love this book?

The Jewish community of Uganda comes to life in this book.

In addition to being a story about family and tradition and the importance of community, it is a look at a community that most readers will have little familiarity with. The illustrations alone transport the reader to a place that is different and at the same time familiar as the message is one that hits home no matter where you live. 

By Shoshana Nambi, Moran Yogev (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Very Best Sukkah as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Sukkot is Shoshi's favorite Jewish holiday. She and her brothers love to decorate their sukkah, the hut where her family will celebrate. But who will win the Ugandan Abayudaya community's annual sukkah contest? While only one sukkah can be the best, everybody wins when neighbors work together.


Book cover of Shoham's Bangle

Erica Lyons Why did I love this book?

This is an important book that represents the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands.

The story is presented in a way that expresses the nostalgia the Iraqi community has for the home they left while also gently painting a picture of the trauma that they experienced. The story expresses the importance of family and tradition. 

By Sarah Sassoon, Noa Kelner (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shoham's Bangle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A Sydney Taylor Notable Book

Winner of the Crystal Kite Award

Tablet Magazine's Best Jewish Kids Books of the Year

Shoham's bangle jingles and jangles, clinks and clacks.

Shoham wears a golden bangle on her wrist, just like her Nana Aziza. Their bangles jingle when they cook, and glitter in the sun. When Shoham and her family must leave Iraq, they are allowed to take only one suitcase each. They may take no jewelry. Shoham has the important job of carrying Nana’s homemade pita bread, which Nana says they will eat when they get to Israel. But when they finally…


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Funny Folk Tales for Children

By Allison Galbraith,

Book cover of Funny Folk Tales for Children

Allison Galbraith Author Of Funny Folk Tales for Children

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a storyteller and folktale collector. All my jobs have involved telling stories – as a community librarian, in theatre, in education, and since 2006 as a professional storyteller and writer. I work in schools, festivals, and outdoor education with all sorts of people and their animals. I have honed my skills to find the most enjoyable traditional tales that can be shared widely. I live in Scotland, where I encourage families to read and tell their favourite stories together. Storytelling is a living art form that belongs to everyone. More than anything, I love the natural world, and I bring the magnificence of nature into all my work.

Allison's book list on world folktales for reading to everyone over six

What is my book about?

These are the funniest folktales in the world. You will be amazed at the intelligent animals and LOL at the ridiculous scrapes the humans get themselves into in these short stories. Discover why dogs are our best friends, learn how to change a cow into a zombie, and meet a shape-shifting, cartwheeling raccoon dog.

Suitable for reading age 7+. This book is perfect for storytime & reading together at bedtime and holidays. These stories will cheer even the grumpiest grandparent up :).

Funny Folk Tales for Children

By Allison Galbraith,

What is this book about?

'It's the best present you can give. It never breaks and doesn't need batteries. What is it?'

The answer is inside THIS BOOK!

Eleven of the funniest traditional tales from around the world. Laugh your socks off as you discover why dogs are our best friends, learn how to flummox fairies, and meet a shape-shifting, cartwheeling badger.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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