In my neighborhood, interfaith Jewish families are not unusual and yet there is a real scarcity of books on this topic. I searched online and then asked my local librarians when my original list wasn’t at my library to come up with this list. I hope you enjoy it as much I did. And I hope children of all faiths can read and discuss some of these books.
Paul Neruda’s childhood is the focal point of Ryan’s fictionalized novel. With regard to passion, Paul’s interest and gift for words was not embraced by his domineering and controlling father. His brother’s gift for classical voice was also rejected by their father in an effort to steer his sons into careers in engineering or medicine.
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass is an amusing read about the challenges of middle-school friendships with a “pay it forward” theme. As Amanda relives her 11th birthday with her best friend Leo, she gets the chance to learn about their shared family history, pursue the dreams she too scared to attempt, and help those around her. Maybe we all should get a Ground Hog day experience!
Lloyd Alexander’s The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen reminds me of Percy Jackson but the zen version or even a more swashbuckling version of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. For ages 8-14.
Journey Home is an important Japanese American story about what happened after the Japanese Americans were released from internment camp and this is also Yoshiko Uchida’s own family story about overcoming barriers, perseverance, and ultimately, of forgiveness.
This book was written in 1944 but it’s still so relevant today. The author’s daughter said that her mother, who grew up in West Haven, Connecticut where the story takes place was the girl (Maddie)who stood by while her friend (Peggy) led the girl bullying towards a girl who was Polish and claimed to have one hundred dresses in her closet while wearing just one shabby dress every day to school. Like the girl in the story (Wanda), this little girl moves to New York City, but the author never gets a chance to tell her how sorry she is. Instead, she writes this book.
Rose Kent writes Kimchi and Calamari with a clear eye and a loving heart much like the hero in her story. She is an expert on this topic of overseas adoption from Asia as she herself has four children of Korean descent, two of which are adopted.
This novel plays on theme of the stereotypical Asian geek/genius and Lisa Yee captures the voice of the Millicent Min, Girl Genius so perfectly that you cringe for her as much as you root for her.
Introducing…Sasha Abramowitz by Sue Halpern is such a great book on so many levels. The plot is tightly written with memorable characters that somehow all get interwoven into the final chapter. Sasha is also such a engaging and realistic character that you can’t help but sympathize with her point of view but also gain insight as she does as she starts to see her brother from other people’s point of view. I highly recommend this book for grades 4-6th.