Archive for June, 2011

This Sacred Land – Eretz Yisrael/Israel

For the past few months I have been writing book review articles for Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Family Connection Newsletter. You can read them at  In April, I was asked to write about Israel books for young children and their families. I received such positive response to the article, that I am expanding it for my blog this month. After all, it is June and no better time to think about taking a trip to Eretz (land) Yisrael (Israel)/The Land of Israel.

First Rain. By Charlotte Herman. Illustrated by Kathryn Mitter. Albert Whitman & Company, © 2010.   Abby and her parents are making Aliyah/moving to Israel. They are all so excited, but sad to be leaving Grandma behind in America. Abby and her Grandma send many letters and emails back and forth about all that Abby is learning. (Ages 4-8)

Chicken Man. Written and illustrated by Michelle Edwards. NewSouth Books, © 2009. Rody lives on a kibbutz in Israel. After trying many jobs, it is clear that the chicken house is the best place for him to work. (ages 5-9)

Snow in Jerusalem. By Deborah DaCosta. Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu. Albert Whitman & Company, © 2001.  Avi lives in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, Hamudi lives in the Muslim Quarter. Unknown to them, they are both taking care of the same white cat. When they find out, a big surprise is waiting for them. (Ages 5-9)

The Man Who Flies with Birds. By Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem. Kar-Ben Publishing, © 2009. An Israeli bird lover, scientist and aeronautics specialist, combines his passions to save lives, protect the environment and bring peace to Israel. (Ages 7-11)

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp. By Trish Marx. Illustrated by Cindy Karp. Lee & Low Books, © 2010. In an attempt to foster peace and understanding between Palestinian-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli children, Menashe Summer Peace Camp was created. This is how Alya, an Israeli Palestinian girl and Yuval, an Israeli Jewish boy, experienced their summer at Peace Camp. (Ages 8-12)

Samir & Yonatan. By Daniella Carmi. Translated by Yael Lotan. Scholastic, © 2000. Samir, a young Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip, finds himself in an Israeli hospital for knee surgery following a bicycle accident. He is in a ward filled with Jewish children. He is befriended by Yonatan, who is in the hospital for hand surgery. Together, they learn from and about each other what it might take to build a better world. (Ages 10-14)

Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak. By Deborah Ellis. Groundwood Books, © 2004. Interviews with children living in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank about their experiences, hopes and dreams as children living in a war-torn country. (Ages 11-14

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. By Ibtisam Barakat. Farrar, Straus Giroux, © 2007. A child’s viewpoint of growing up on the West Bank during the 1967 Six Day War. (Ages 11-15)

Freefall. By Anna Levine. Greenwillow, © 2008. Aggie is going into the Israeli army, as all Israeli citizens must do at the age of eighteen. However, instead of choosing a desk job, she decides to try out for an elite combat unit, even though she will have to gain weight and go through a series of harsh training camps to do it. (Ages 13-16)

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea. By Valerie Zenatti. Translated by Adriana Hunter. Bloomsbury, © 2005. Winner of the Syndey Taylor Award. Tal Levine wants to correspond with a Palestinian, so she asks her soldier brother to throw a bottle containing a letter with her email address into the Gaza Sea. Surprisingly, she gets a response from “Gazaman.” Their exchanges provide a remarkable insight into this difficult region. (Ages 14-18)

Reading these books should provide you and your family with a solid overview of the modern Jewish experience. However, as I did last month and will from now on, I have prepared a list of discussion questions and activities that parents and/or teachers can use when reading these books together with children to reinforce your understanding of Eretz Yisrael/The Land of Israel and learn together about the country that is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. If you would be interested in using this material, please see the Family Reading Program Section of my website for June/Sivan. Wishing you dreams of vacations far away, perhaps on the shores of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv!

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection, my local public library or the publisher as review copies.
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