Israel Book Connections

Posted: 4/28/2008 4:06:00 PM
Author: Anti-Defamation League

The Anti-Defamation League has compiled Israel Book Connections.

Israel Book Connections is a list of recommended, widely available books for children and teens, grades K-12, about life in Israel for kids, parents, teachers and librarians. These books present the lives of typical Israeli children and young adults in every day settings. Some of these books are historical, some involve politics and some just tell a story about someone’s life who happens to live in Israel.

Each book has been chosen based on its quality, the presentation of Israel, and its avoidance of stereotypes in presenting the complexities of the region. They are suitable for personal reading, class discussions and reading assignments.

Featured Books:


Behold the Trees
Sue Alexander, Leonid Gore, (Scholastic, 2001), 48 pages, Elementary School

Behold the Trees tells the history of Israel through the fate of its trees. Israel, a nation once protected by wonderful trees, has over time and due to war and environmental neglect, turned to desert until new inhabitants plant trees and slowly make the country bloom again.

Chicken Man
Michelle Edwards (Junebug Books, 2007), 32 pages, Kindergarten

When Rody is put in charge of the chicken coop on the kibbutz he lives on in Israel, he never wants to leave. But when he is transferred to another job, he learns important lessons about hard work and happiness.

Dog of Knots
Kathy Walden Kaplan, (Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company, February 2005), 131 pages, older Elementary/Middle School (grade 4 and up)

This coming of age story tells of nine-year-old child, Mayim, who lost her father in the Six Day War when she was a baby. Describing Mayim's new life in Haifa, Dog of Knots paints a touching picture of daily life in Israel while examining on attitudes toward war and peace.

David Grossman, ( Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, August 2004), 112 pages, older Elementary/Middle School (grade 4 and up)

Duel is a mystery/coming of age story narrated by twelve-year-old David in Jerusalem, who befriends the 70-year-old Heinrich Rosenberg. After Mr. Rosenberg receives a mysterious letter alleging that he is a thief, David becomes determined to help his new friend by discovering the truth behind the letter's allegations.
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Israel ABCs
Holly Schroeder (Picture Window Books, 2004), 32 pages, Kindergarten

This book highlights the wonderful people and places in Israel.

Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses and Crescents
Mark H. Podwal (Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 2005), 32 pages, K-2 and up (all ages)

Jerusalem Sky provides a starting point for discussing current events and their historical roots with children. Weaving legends and stories in with his magnificent artwork, Mark Podwal tells the tale of Jerusalem — famed city, historical battleground and shared sacred space of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He delivers a simple and inspiring message of hope that these three world religions can share the same Jerusalem Sky in peace. Elie Wiesel wrote of the book, “If Jerusalem is a crown, these words and paintings by Mark Podwal are its precious jewel. [Jerusalem Sky] will bring the city closer to you and you closer to its majestic beauty.”

Joshua's Dream
Sheila Segal (UAHC Press, 1992), 26 pages, Elementary School

In this story Joshua learns about the heroic efforts of his Great Aunt Rivka and her hard work in settling and transforming the land of Israel. Joshua’s love for his heritage climaxes when he has the opportunity to plant a tree in Israel.
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Running on Eggs
Anna Levine (Cricket Books, 1999), 128 pages, Older Elementary School (grade 4 and up)

Running on Eggs is the story of a tentative friendship between Karen, an Israeli student, and Yasmine, her Arab contemporary, who train together for their school track team. This moving portrait of an Israeli-Palestinian friendship captures the invisible cloud of tension that skirts the edges of everyday life in Israel.

Samir and Yonatan
Daniella Carmi and Yael Lotan (Scholastic, 2002), 183 pages, Older Elementary School (grade 4 and up)

Samir, a Palestinian youth, must undergo an operation at an Israeli hospital and finds himself in a ward with Israeli children, including Yonatan. Despite Yonatan's introverted nature, he befriends Samir and draws him into a world where sickness, fear, and conflict can be overcome.
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Welcome to Israel
Lilly Rivlin (Behrman House Publishing, 2000), 128 pages, Kindergarten

This book introduces readers to Israeli children living all over Israel. Through interactive and colorful features, children are able to learn about the unique nature of Israel and all the wonderful people who inhabit the land.



After the War
Carole Matas (Simon and Schuster, 1997), 305 pages, Middle School and early High School

Ruth, 15, has survived the Nazi concentration camp, Buchenwald. Desperate and alone, she makes her way back to her Polish homeland only to discover that Jews are still viewed with suspicion and hatred. There she meets Saul, a young emissary from pre-state Israel, who persuades her to join a group of Jewish children on their way to find refuge in British Mandate-era Palestine.
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Broken Bridge
Lynne Reid Banks, (Harper Collins, 1996), 336 pages, Middle School and up

Broken Bridge, the sequel to One More River, continues the story of Lesley Shelby, whose parents came from Canada to live on a kibbutz in Israel. Lesley's teenage daughter, Nili, witnesses a terrorist attack in which her Canadian cousin, who is visiting Israel, is killed. The book traces the aftermath of this act of terrorism and shows its complex effects on the victim's Israeli and Canadian relatives as well as on the perpetrators.
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Ilan Ramon: Jewish Star
Devra Newberger Speregen (Jewish Publications Society, 2004), 144 pages, Middle School and up

This biography tells of the heroic life of Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon. Through portraits and interesting details this book celebrates Ramon’s life, culminating with his tragic death aboard the shuttle Columbia in 2003.
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Journey of Hope: the Story of Ilan Ramon, Israel's First Astronaut
Alan D. Abbey (Gefen Publishing House, 2003), 53 pages, Middle School and up

Journey of Hope captures the courage and heroism of the life and death of Colonel Ilan Ramon. Filled with NASA photographs, images of Holocaust artifacts that Ramon carried with him onto the Columbia shuttle, the famous Hebrew poem read at his funeral, and the complete transcript of President George Bush’s comments at the official memorial ceremony for the Columbia Seven.
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One More River
Lynne Reid Banks, (HarperCollins Publisher, 1993), 248 pages, Middle School and up

Fourteen-year-old spoiled Lesley moves with her parents from Canada to Israel. Left behind is her brother Noah, a family outcast. Set in the period around the Six-Day War, One More River follows Lesley as she adjusts to her new life on an Israeli kibbutz and explores her friendship with Mustapha, an Arab boy from a nearby village.
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The Return
Sonia Levitin, (Random House, 1998), 181 pages, Middle School

The Return tells about Operation Moses – the 1985 airlifting of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel. Twelve-year-old Desta accompanies her brother and younger sister from Ethiopia to the Sudan , where Israelis are waiting to transport them to the Jewish state. When her brother is killed on the way, Desta is forced to take the lead and confront the perils of the journey so they can reach their destination.
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The Singing Mountain
Sonia Levitin (Simon and Schuster's Children, 2000), 304 pages, Older Middle School and High School

What starts out to be a fun-filled trip to Israel with friends before starting college turns out to be a spiritual awakening for Mitch Green. To the consternation of his assimilated parents, Mitch becomes a baal teshuvah – someone who returns to his Judaism – and decides to stay in Israel after his trip. It is through his awestruck eyes that the reader gets to see a biblical and modern day Israel.



A Late Divorce
A.B. Yehoshua (Harvest Books, 1993), 364 pages, High School

A grandfather returns to Israel from America to get a divorce from his estranged wife, who is institutionalized in a mental hospital. Another woman, who is pregnant, is awaiting his return in America. The story is centered around intricacies and dynamics that make a family.

Alex, Building a Life
Alex Singer (Gefen Books, 1996), 273 pages, High School

This book contains the letters and thoughts of an American boy who was killed while in the Israeli Defense Forces. This moving compilation shows Alex Singer’s heroism and passion for Israel.

Liel Leibovitz (St. Martin's Press, 2005), 288 pages, High School

In this book, Liel Leibovitz looks at the various motivations for making Aliya. Through several narratives, Leibovitz shows that the reasons Jews move to Israel are as diverse and varied as the Jewish people themselves.

A Pigeon and a Boy
Meir Shalev (Schocken, 2007), 320 pages, High School

A Pigeon and a Boy tells the story of a young pigeon handler who, right before he is killed in Israel’s war of independence in 1948, sends one last pigeon to a girl he loved. Shalev intertwines this story with a contemporary love story to produce a tale which tells of the power and persistence of love.

Leon Uris (Bantam, 1983), 608 pages, High School

Leon Uris’s classic novel tells the story of how Jews who survived the Holocaust in Europe struggled to come to pre-state Israel and helped create a Jewish state in 1948. Exodus focuses on several young characters and their roles in the establishment of the state, interwoven with historical events that portray the relationships among Jews, Arabs and the British during this tumultuous turning point in history.

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation
Simone Elkeles (Flux, 2006), 234 pages, High School and up

The last place sixteen year-old Amy Nelson wants to spend her summer is in Israel and the last person she wants to spend it with is her father but she soon finds herself being dragged to Israel by her father. While at first she finds it difficult to adjust to the language and culture in a new country, Amy learns to open her mind and is able to connect to her heritage.

Light Years
Tammar Stein (Random House Children's Books, 2005), 240 pages, High School

Maya Laor runs late for an outing in Tel Aviv and just misses being killed by the suicide bomber who kills her waiting boyfriend. To escape the pain and create a physical and mental distance from Israel, Maya leaves Israel for an American university. For older readers. Contains a sexually explicit passage.

Real Time
Pnina Moed Kass (Clarion Books, 2004), 192 pages, High School

This novel tells the minute-by-minute account of a suicide bomb attack on a crowded Jerusalem bus and its aftermath told from the viewpoints of the passengers, their families and friends, and the people who care for them in a Jerusalem hospital.

Refiner's Fire
Mark Helprin (Harvest Books, 1990), 384 pages, High School

Refiner’s Fire isthe life story of Marshall Pearl, who is orphaned at birth on an immigrant ship off the coast of Palestine in 1947 and then brought to America. His journey takes him through the Hudson River Valley, to Harvard, to sea on a British merchant ship and finally back to Israel where he serves as a soldier in the Yom Kippur War.

The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu
Jonathan Netanyahu (Gefen Publishing House, 2001), 324 pages, High School

This book contains the letters of Jonathan Netanyahu. The letters are dated from 1963, when he was 17, until 1976, when he was killed during the famous raid on the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.

The Lover
A.B. Yehoshua (Harvest Books, 1993), 368 pages, High School

As the Yom Kippur War rages in Israel, a husband searches for his wife’s lover, who has returned to France seeking an inheritance. Each chapter portrays the story from the perspective of a different character. Along the way, The Lover tells the account of one Israeli family, spotlights the diversity of people living in Israel and raises questions about what makes a nation.

When I Was a Soldier
Valerie Zenatti (Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, 2005), 235 pages, High School and up

A memoir originally written in French , When I Was a Soldier explores the transition that 18-year-old immigrant Valerie makes from civilian to military life. When she first enters the Israeli Army she finds it exciting, but soon thereafter, Valerie finds she is conflicted about her feelings towards her Israel. She loves it fiercely and wants to defend her country to the best of her ability, and yet, she sees its flaws. Contains some controversial and critical opinions of Israel.

Liat Taiber-Ben David (Jewish Publications Society, 2005), High School

This book tells the story of Four Generations of Jewish women. Following them through the momentous occasions in Jewish history, Yarzheit conveys the rich history of the Jewish people and all they have endured.