In an era rife with cultural division, bias incidents fueled by hate darken our newsfeeds and heighten our anxieties. It is understandable that our children may be feeling scared, confused or even angry about the same things we are.
Right now, it is important for families to discuss race and racism together.
PJ Library is a children's book club and platform for family gatherings that celebrate Jewish life and values, including working toward a more just world for people of all backgrounds, religions, races, and ethnicities. Each year, PJ Library releases age-appropriate books and music on topics relating to multi-cultural understanding.
The following PJ Library books feature inter-cultural friendships, and stories about learning from others and respecting differences that can be great to start your own conversation.
We have also included additional links and resources that will help aid these difficult, yet important topics with kids.
You can also read our Jewish community collective response to the killing of George Floyd.
Children Under 5
My Face Book
by Star Bright Books
My Face Book is a board book for encouraging social-emotional development in babies and toddlers.
Fridays Are Special
by Chris Barash
Follow along with a little boy as he celebrates Shabbat with his large, diverse, family.
by Bar Bat-Shem
Bringing a child into your family includes countless happy moments. This book recounts many of them for the youngest of book lovers.
Kids 6 and Up
Yaffa and Fatima (5 - 6 years)
by Fawzia Gilani-Williams and Chiara Fedele
Two neighbors, one Jewish, one Muslim, have always been best friends. When they both fall on hard times, can they find a way to help each other?
Across the Alley (6 - 8 years)
by Richard Michelson
Abe and Willie live across the alley from each other. Willie is black and Abe is Jewish, and during the day, they don't talk. But at night they open their windows and are best friends.
Hanukkah Moon (6-9 yrs)
When Isobel is invited to Aunt Luisa's for Hanukkah, she's not sure what to expect. Aunt Luisa has recently arrived from Mexico.
Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty (8+ years)
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...
Who wrote these words? And why?
PJ Our Way
Middle School Aged Children
Stealing Home (11+)
by Ellen Schwartz
Joey is a bi-racial boy trying to find his place while presuing his love for baseball. His story takes readers to a time when America’s favorite pastime became a battleground for human rights.
Skating With The Statue of Liberty (8-12 years)
by Susan Lynn Meyer
Gustave’s family has made it to America, but life isn’t as easy as he thought it would be. His accent and clothes are weird, and everyone disapproves of his friendship with Seppie. Should he stick by her, or do what it takes to fit in?
The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah (9-13 years)
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
When her beloved grandmother, Nana, dies and leaves her a Star of David necklace, Caroline becomes curious about her Jewish identity. She thinks she might want a Bat Mitzvah, but what is a Bat Mitzvah anyway, and what will her non-Jewish dad think?
Explore More Books: There are more PJ Library and PJ Our Way books that feature diverse characters, multi-ethnic families, as well as characters learning to get along and respect each other despite differences.
Beyond Books: You can find podcasts and other media that help you speak to the kids in your life about cultural differences and acceptance, diversity and racism.