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Image Description: Title image with lilac frame. Title reads "The Largest Farmer Protests in Human History and India's Republic Day". Image below shows five of the 'seeds' as humans sat in despair on the ground. Image from The Garden of Peace.
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Image shows a purple frame which includes 3 book cover images and the title reads 13 Children's Books to Talk About Antisemitism.

Today marks a day of promise. A day of renewed hope and the possibility for change.

Yet, January 6th, 2021 is another date embedded in our memory and will be marked in history books to follow.

A word redefined through stark images filled with hate: ‘terrorist’. The visual definition not fitting the bias that too many people have carried around for decades, without question.

The people who raided the U.S. Capitol just days ago are domestic terrorists, but more urgently, they need to be recognized as the face of white power and white privilege.

In Canada, hate groups have been on the rise and have tripled since 2015. Incidents have been documented. In British Columbia, hate-ridden posters have been spotted around the province. We can sit complacent, foolishly convinced that the horrors of history will not be repeated. Or, we can speak out in solidarity with the Jewish community, who are experiencing unimaginable trauma.

We cannot pass as silent allies after witnessing those violent acts on our screens – antisemitism in full view.

The issues of social justice that we see in our world today, are issues our young folx will inherit. People on the Capitol included young persons. They were people who once sat in Kindergarten classrooms and perhaps, throughout their schooling, may never have spoken with people who looked different from their own lives. Others were educators, who took their lived experiences into classrooms and may have fueled ignorance in places of learning. These are realities we have to recognize to understand where and how hate grows.

When we care deeply about issues of social justice, anti-racism and anti-bias work, we acknowledge that this work has to begin early. Talking to children about the difference between protests and insurrection can help them question their own choices and figure out how to respond to what is happening in the world.

Children’s books are one way to disrupt the roots of prejudice and hostility. They help facilitate conversations with young persons to interpret the world through meaningful dialogue. Our common humanity can be found through stories. We do have to be willing to push through our own discomfort in the process.

This is not just another book list. There is still much work to do, but today is a step towards the promise of a better tomorrow.

Not an exhaustible list, of course, but I hope these titles spark an interest to learn and disrupt what we think we know.

[Alt text has been included for all images]


  1. The Abba Tree by Devora Busheri, illustrated by Gal Shkedi
    “It’s Tu B’Shevat, and Hannah and Abba – Hebrew for Dad – are spending time together in nature”. – Lerner Books

    Tu B’Shevat is Jewish Arbor Day beginning January 27th, this year (2021) and ending the next day.

Book Cover for The Abba Tree by Devora Busheri and illustrated by Gal Shkedi. Shows a young girl with short brown hair, wearing glasses, a green t-shirt and hello shorts standing at the trunk of a tree, pointing to the top. A little bird is sat on her head.

The Abba Tree ©Lerner Books (No copyright infringement is intended).


2. Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman
This book went out of print in 2012 but Candlewick Press introduced a new edition with illustrations by Laura Cornell to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Although it debuted in 1989, it has been one of the most frequently banned books in the U.S.
In an interview with Tablet Magazine, the author talks about how she took out a line from the book because “I hope that in 25 years I’ve learned something about the craft of writing”.

Please click on the book image below to read a conversation with Lesléa Newman on diversity in children’s books.

Book cover for Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Laura Cornell. Image shows a young child holding a hand of each of two mommies. There is a dog on the left and an orange cat on the right.

Heather Has Two Mommies ©Candlewick Press (No copyright infringement is intended).


3. Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Zosia Dzierzawska

“If everyone could understand each other, wouldn’t they be able to live in peace?”

Leyzer Zamenhof sets out to create a new language to connect people of the world. He publishes a book of his new language and signs it – Doctor Esperanto.


Book Cover image for Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope shows a group of six people, with a central character sat on a desk. All the other (white presenting) characters are looking at him in admiration.

Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope by Mara Rockliff and illustrated Zosia Dzierzawska ©Penguin Random House (No copyright infringement is intended).


4. A Scarf for Keiko by Ann Malaspina and illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard

This story is set in 1942, with Sam – a young Jewish boy – and Keiko, his Japanese American friend from school whose family is sent away to an internment camp. A discussion around the Shabbat table, helps Sam consider his fears and doubts, and find common humanity with Keiko.

Book Cover image for A Scarf for Keiko (title in red on a vintage blue background) shows a young Japanese girl riding a red bicycle. She is wearing a red and white scarf and muted pink jacket. There are stores in the background.

©Kar-ben Publishing (No copyright infringement is intended).


5. The Key From Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music by Debbie Levy (author of I Dessent!) and illustrated by Sonya Wimmer.
The story of Ladino singer Flory Jagoda who flees Europe during Word War II.

Book cover image for The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music which shows her playing a harmoniku at the bottom centre of the cover. She has her eyes closed, wearing a blue-green dress. She is surrounded by leaves, flowers and two people are sat on 'leaves' of music.

©Lerner Books (No copyright infringement is intended).


6. Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar.

The beauty of intersectionality.

Book cover for Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas shows a young girl in a blue dress, orange cardigan and purple striped socks standing on a table with her arms in the air. She wears a gold crown. There is a menorah on the left and dosas with what looks like sambar and chutney on the right. A young boy with short brown hair watches her from the right wearing a white t-shirt and arms folded across his chest. A dreidel banner hangs in the background in shades of blue.

©Macmillan Publishers (No copyright infringement is intended).


7. Parrots, Pugs, and Pixie Dust by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Masha D’yans.

Instead of centring fashion ‘icons’ like Coco Chanel, this story amplifies handbag designer Judith Leiber.

Book cover image for Parrots, Pugs, and Pixie Dust has a pink background and uses an art medium of colourful dots to show animals like a frog, unicorn, fish and then fries!

©Simon&Schuster (No copyright infringement intended).

8. Buen Shabat, Shabbat Shalom by Sarah Aroeste and illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio.

Book cover of Been Shabat, Shabbat Shalom by Sarah Aroeste and illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio. Blue background with a family of five standing at a table with a cake on a red stand on the left, two blue candles in gold holders on the right.

©Kar-ben Publishing (No copyright infringement intended).


9. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Book cover for A Hat for Mrs. Goldman shows a pink background with a young girl framed in the centre. She is sitting on the ground knitting with a ball of blue wool at the side.

©Schwartz & Wade (No copyright infringement is intended).


10. Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier and illustrated by Greg Salsedo.

Book cover for Hidden by Loic Dauvillier and illustrated by Greg Salsedo. Blue background with a young child on the right. Child is wearing a long brown jacket and is looking down at a yellow star.

©First Second; Illustrated edition (No copyright infringement is intended)

11. As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Raul Colón.

Two civil rights icons – Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – marched for freedom, together.

Book cover for As Good As Anybody showing Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel marching together toward freedom.

©Dragonfly Books; illustrated edition. (No copyright infringement intended).

12. The Little Boy Star: An Allegory of the Holocaust by Rachel Hausfater and illustrated by Oliver Latyk.

Book cover for The Little Boy Star: An Allegory of the Holocaust. Blue background with a little boy on the left looking up towards the right. He wears a red scarf and a blue shirt with a yellow star in the centre.

©Milk & Cookies Press (No copyright infringement is intended).


13. Always an Olivia by Carolivia Herron and illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau.

The author shares her own family history as a Jewish African-American.

Book cover for Always an Olivia. A young woman with curly brown hair and blue eyes holds a lamp. Below, an older woman wearing a pink dress and a pearl necklace is sat beside a younger girl who has her dark hair tied in two buns.

©Kar-ben Publishing (No copyright infringement is intended).

To learn more, please consider following the work of these amazing folx:

In order to move beyond being passive allies, we have to understand the lived experiences of the Jewish community and their interpretation of antisemitism. We need to listen to their voices and feel the discomfort.

On Instagram, check out these accounts (and follow Patreon accounts to further support if you are able).






Tablet Mag: Daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture

Jewish Book Council – Book Reviews

The Association of Jewish Libraries: The Sydney Taylor Book Awards

Facing History: The Roots and Impact of Antisemitism

Teaching Tolerance: Addressing Antisemitic Hate With Students

Above book images are linked to the Jewish Book Council when possible. When you purchase through affiliate links on their page, you support their work further. They also offer insightful reviews. 

(I receive no compensation for these links).

Image of author with thank you message for supporting a small, independent press



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