Did you know that May is Jewish American Heritage Month? In celebration, we pulled together 10 books for kids and teens featuring Jewish representation. Read on for recommendations for all ages, from picture books to young adult novels.

Picture Books

Tía Fortuna’s New Home by Ruth Behar

When Estrella’s Tía Fortuna must move from her Miami apartment into assisted living, Estrella spends the day with her. Together they explore Tía’s most important possessions, and Estrella learns of her long-ago journey from Cuba to America.

Tía Fortuna’s New Home focuses on Tía and Estrella’s Sephardic Jewish and Cuban heritage, a background the author, Ruth Behar, shares. The story teaches that anywhere can become a home as long as you have family and joy.

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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards

The cover of A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards

Everyone knows Mrs. Goldman for the beautiful, warm hats she knits for her community. One day her neighbor Sophia notices she doesn’t have a hat of her own. Sophia longs to make her friend a hat, but she’s only a beginner knitter and doesn’t have the skills yet. Can Sophia still be generous and kind if her gift isn’t perfect?

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman introduces readers to the concept of a mitzvah or good deed. It also is a great book to encourage children to be generous and let go of the need for perfection. This is a great simple example of Jewish representation for very young readers.

Lilah Tov, Good Night by Ben Gundersheimer

As a family packs up their belongings and heads off into the night, a little girl delights in the wonders of nature. She says good night — lilah tov — to everything they pass. Everything she sees is a wonder, even in the dark. When the family reaches their new home, they finally tuck the girl in, safe and tight, and wish her lilah tov.

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This book can be read as a simple bedtime story for younger children or recognized as an immigrant tale with other kids. The text of Lilah Tov, Good Night draws on a Hebrew lullaby and gives it new meaning while introducing it to new readers.

Middle Grades

Hereville by Barry Deutsch

The cover of Hereville by Barry Deutch, a book with Orthodox Jewish representation

In the fictional town of Hereville, Mirka is determined to prove herself as a formidable dragon slayer. However, her family expects her to focus on more traditional activities, like knitting and housework. Undaunted, Mirka embarks on a quest to obtain her very own sword and prove to her community just how strong she can be.

This is the first graphic novel to win the Sydney Taylor Award for an outstanding book for children and teens portraying the Jewish experience. Hereville is a fun adventure that any kid will enjoy, but it’s unique in that it portrays an Orthodox Jewish community. Barry Deutsch does both the text and illustrations, and his work is all-around fantastic.

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The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit

Lara and Caroline, two autistic Jewish sisters, have always done everything together. But when they start a detective agency to look into the mysteries of their family, they may find out some things they didn’t want to know.

Sarah Kapit does a great job demonstrating the different ways to be Jewish and the various ways to be autistic while keeping things light and laugh-out-loud funny. The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family is full of hilarious, sticky situations and celebrates the joy of discovery and the power of family bonds. This book is perfect for fans of The Penderwicks and The Vanderbeekers.

Not Your All-American Girl by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg

The cover of Not Your All-American Girl

Lauren is a Chinese-American Jewish girl growing up in the 1980s. She loves music and dreams of becoming a star, watching Star Search every Sunday night. But when she tries out for the school play, her friend Tara gets the lead role, and the director tells Lauren she’s just not “all-American” enough to get the lead. After hearing Patsy Cline on the radio (and mistakenly thinking her last name is Klein and that she’s Jewish too), she vows to become the first Chinese-Jewish country singing star. As she spends more time in the neglected ensemble and out of the spotlight, Lauren must decide whether to fit in or stand out.

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Not Your All-American Girl does a great job capturing the conflicts biracial children often face in a way that’s accessible to young people. The two authors, Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg, provide a nuanced exploration of cultural heritage, family expectations and the universal struggles of adolescence.

Young Adult

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Lara’s had a crush on the same person for years. Chase Harding is tall, sweet and hot, and he’s talking to her for the first time. The only problem? Lara’s secret summer fling, Jasmine, transferred to her school just in time to see Lara and Chase together. If Lara finally has the guy of her dreams, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer features a love story between two Jewish girls and includes queer and questioning representation. Dahlia Adler‘s 2021 release is a fun, messy story of self-discovery and new love you don’t want to miss.

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The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum

The cover of Isaac Blum's book The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

The people in 16-year-old Hoodie’s neighborhood aren’t happy that so many Orthodox Jewish families are moving in. At yeshiva school, the rabbis encourage the boys to keep to themselves and keep their community safe. For most of his life, Hoodie has done just that, doing everything his family, faith and community asked of him.

When he meets and falls for Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary, everything changes. She may be the daughter of the mayor trying to keep Hoodie’s community out of town, but she’s also his first non-Jewish friend. When the town is struck by a series of antisemitic crimes that quickly escalate to deadly violence, however, his neighbors turn on him for siding with the enemy. Is first love worth the pain of losing your community?

This book was unlike anything I’ve read before; I don’t think there’s much Orthodox Jewish representation in YA fiction. What starts as a gentle ride quickly picks up speed, and events toward the end get pretty dark. The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen is a short but powerful book that respectfully balances the beliefs of different people in the modern world.

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Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

When Suzette returns home to Los Angeles after a year at boarding school, it’s hard to settle back into her old life. Her step-brother Lionel is facing his own struggles, too, after a bipolar disorder diagnosis. As the siblings confront their personal challenges, their relationship is tested, and they must navigate the complexities of family loyalty, self-discovery and the boundaries of love.

Brandy Colbert’s emotionally-charged story dives deep into identity, mental health, family dynamics and more. Suzette is Jewish, biracial and figuring out her sexuality while navigating complicated relationships with her family and friends. Little & Lion is a must-read for anyone caught in between places, people or identities.

When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb

The cover of When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb

Little Ash, the demon, and his friend, the angel, have studied together in their tiny shtetl for centuries. But the growing threat of pogroms and the allure of a new life has drawn the village’s young people to America. When one of the shtetl’s young women goes missing, the angel and Little Ash embark on a journey to find her. On their way to America, they meet other humans who need their help. There’s Rose Cohen, whose best friend and love of her life abandoned her, and the ghost of a rabbi whose family needs to mourn his death or risk him becoming a dybbuk. The journey is more dangerous than the angel or Little Ash realized, but they will sacrifice anything to keep their people safe.

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When the Angels Left the Old Country was the 2023 winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Adults and the Stonewall Book Award. Sacha Lamb‘s debut tackles huge issues of good and evil, our obligations to each other and the nature of love. Make sure to check out our full review of the novel.

These are just a few books featuring Jewish representation for kids and teens. There are plenty more out there! Let us know your favorites below.

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