10 kids' books by Jewish Canadian authors to read right now
May is Canadian Jewish Heritage Month. In recognition of this month, here's a reading list of books for younger readers by Canadians of Jewish descent.
The Sun Will Come Out by Joanne Levy
The Sun Will Come Out is a tale of a girl and her first summer away from home. Sleep-away 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 isn't helping one bit. When Bea meets a boy named Henry, she realizes that we all have our own challenges —and that it can take 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 books for young people, including Double Trouble and Fish Out of Water. She is also the author of the middle-grade novels Crushing It and the Red Maple Award-nominated Small Medium At Large.
Sitting Shiva by Erin Silver, illustrated by Michelle Theodore
Sitting Shiva is a picture book that reflects on loss and grief. When a child loses her 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 during the process.
Sitting Shiva is for ages 3 to 5.
Erin Silver is a Toronto-based journalist, author and blogger.
Michelle Theodore is an Edmonton artist and illustrator.
I Love You More by Emil Sher, illustrated by Barbara Reid
I Love You More is a picture book about a child named Des and the power of love. The story is an affirming look at how kindness in the community crosses lines 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, Away and the picture book Mittens to Share, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. Sher has written the stage play adaptations of Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine and The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown, and the script and lyrics for a stage musical of Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater.
Children's author Barbara Reid, who uses plasticine to illustrate her stories, has written several bestselling books including Picture a Tree and Sing a Song of Mother Goose. In 2013, Reid was appointed a member of the Order of Canada. Among her many awards, her picture book The Party won the 1997 Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature. In 2013, Reid received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People, which recognizes a writer's entire body of work.
Her book Picture The Sky was a finalist for the 2018 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and received the most votes from young readers in the CBC's Fan Choice Contest.
War Stories by Gordon Korman
In War Stories, Trevor loves playing war-based video games and his great-grandfather Jacob is a true-blue, bona fide war hero. Decades after he helped liberate a small French village, Jacob wants to retrace the steps he took during the war — with Trevor. But as they get to the village, Trevor discovers there's more to Jacob's story than what he's heard his whole life.
War Stories is for ages 8 to 12
Gordon Korman is the bestselling author of more than 80 books for kids. He wrote his first book, This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, when he was in Grade 7.
A Boy Is Not a Ghost by Edeet Ravel
In A Boy Is Not a Ghost by Edeet Ravel, Natt is torn from his home in Eastern Europe. He finds himself stranded with other deportees in a schoolyard in Novosibirsk. And he is about to discover that life can get worse than the horrific two months he and his mother have spent on a bug-infested livestock train. When his mother is falsely arrested for stealing potatoes, Natt must learn how 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 a novelist born in Israel and raised in Montreal. She is the author of the novel A Wall of Light, which was a finalist for the 2005 Giller Prize.
A Struggle for Hope by Carol Matas
A Struggle for Hope is a gripping story of survival and hope. Ruth survived the Holocaust and the long journey to Palestine. Now she finds herself once again in a war zone as Israel battles for its existence. As Ruth grapples with her new circumstances, she realizes she must carry on — and never give up on hope.
A Struggle for Hope is for ages 9 to 12.
Carol Matas is an award-winning Winnipeg author of 46 books for young people. Her other books include Lisa, which won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young Readers, Jesper, Daniel's Story and After the War.
Under the Iron Bridge by Kathy Kacer
This YA novel is set in Germany in the late 1930s and a teen named Paul is being pressured into joining the Hitler Youth. He really doesn't want to be a part of the group and finds a potential way out when he meets a group of teens working to undermine the rising threat of the Nazis. When violence in his town escalates, Paul must make a decision about the type 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 survivors of the Holocaust. Her books, including Hiding Edith and Masters of Silence explore the lives of young Jewish people who lived during that time.
Names in a Jar by Jennifer Gold
Set during the Second World War, Names in a Jar is a YA 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 during wartime and people are often hungry and sick. When Anna finds herself in charge of an orphan baby, they go into hiding and change their names and identity to survive. Lina is sent to the infamous Treblinka Camp and the sisters have to find their way back to each other.
Names in a Jar is for ages 13 and up.
Jennifer Gold is an author of several books for young adults including Soldier Doll and On the Spectrum. A lawyer and mom of two kids and two cats, she lives with her family in Toronto.
Water, Water by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Jon McNaught
In Water, Water, a boy named Rafe wakes up one morning to find that his bedroom is floating out to sea. Forced to fish for food, Rafe finds himself wrapped up in a wet and 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 the popular Kaspar Snit novels, the two-volume 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, which was a finalist for the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize and an Amazon.ca Best Book of the Year. In 2014, Fagan received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People for his body of work. His 2019 novel, The Student, was a finalist for both the Toronto Book Award and the Governor General's Literary Award.
Jon McNaught is a London-based illustrator, printmaker and lecturer.
Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure by Anne Dublin
Inspired by a real story, Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure is a story about an orphaned boy named Jacob living in Poland in the 1920s. Life is hard but Jacob finds happiness playing in the orphanage 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 ship. Jacob must overcome all odds to realize his dream of playing at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure is for ages 9 to 12.
Anne Dublin is an author and former teacher-librarian based in Toronto. She is also the author of two historical fiction novels for young readers, The Orphan Rescue and 44 Hours or Strike!.