The Best Hanukkah Present You Can Give Yourself

Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens

by Linda R. Silver (Jewish Publication Society, 2010)

While you’re out buying Hanukkah presents for your kids or your grandkids, don’t forget your own needs. If you write Jewish content for kids, the best present you can give yourself is Linda Silver‘s Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens, published by the Jewish Publication Society.

Here’s why:

Silver organizes Jewish children’s literature into distinct categories, including Jewish rites and customs, holidays, the Bible, folklore, history, immigrant life, the Holocaust and World War II, Israel and Zionism, contemporary issues, famous Jews, and Judaism and other religions. She introduces each section with an overview and themes.

Within each category, you’ll get abstracts of each book contained within the category, including publisher and publication dates. This information is critical to any marketing statement or competitive analysis you may need to do for the book you’re writing.  It’s imperative for developing your own list of publishers you could submit your manuscript to. But if you follow the advice of Heather Sellers, author of Page by Page and Chapter by Chapter, and read one hundred books like the one you want to write, Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens tells you what they are.

Each abstract also gives you the intended age group for the book and notes any awards, such as the National Jewish Book Award and the Sydney Taylor Book Award. You’ll also see “Related reading” for many entries.

Two nitpicky things: First, I would have liked to see a more robust listing of awards. For instance, Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse not only won the Sydney Taylor Book Award, but also the National Jewish Book Award. Second, I’d like to know if there are any plans to keep this book current.

While not necessarily intended for writers, this book helps you do your due diligence and research. Thank you, Linda and JPS, for giving writers such a valuable resource! It is a must-have for every writer of Jewish children’s books.

Buy Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens, now! And here’s a heads-up–Linda Silver will be on the faculty of the May 2011 Highlights Foundation Workshop, “Writing Jewish-themed Children’s Books.” Stay tuned to The Whole Megillah for more info.

About Barbara Krasner

History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults.
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