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  • Books (Jewish Genre) for Tween Age Group (Girls)

     Fayge Y. updated 4 months, 4 weeks ago 6 Members · 20 Posts
  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 1, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    I think this post relates to forum of “Reading Room” and I’ve had this on my mind for a long time so I thought I’d air things out here.

    have an almost 12 year old daughter who enjoys reading. In as far as taking out books from the public library, so far I find that to be a difficult enterprise, as the world has changed so much. I used to go to the public library by myself  (it was actually a small British Council Library in Yerushalayim) when I was twelve, and used to choose my own books. Apart from that, I’m finding that for tje Jewish genre of  reading material for young teens, there seems to be a gap in the market. She’s outgrown the junior level, and I’m not finding anything for the age range of 11-13. We belong to a local Jewish Library and in terms of fiction, there’s not much left for her. I have suggested to her that she turn to non-fiction (children), biography, history. This library does have junior non-fiction sections. Sometimes she just wants to relax with a good story.

    I would love to be corrected if I’m wrong and I’d love to hear feedback from either people who have young teenage daughters, what their take is, or if they have any suggestions for Jewish novels for the young teenager range.  Also from  from the other side, writers, (or if there are any publishers on Masterpiece)e. My daughter likes realistic fiction, not sci  fi or historical fiction, more stories that she can relate to in her day to day life.

    If anyone has suggestions in the secular genre of books, I would appreciate that too. I’m British, and therefore never really read any of the American classics, so I feel pretty lost in the children’s section of a public library anyway. Literally I have to go through even the most innocuous of books in terms of how kosher they are, and invariably I’ll find things of the modern day age culture that we live in, that I don’t want my daughter exposed to.

    I know there is a list of “kosher” literature for children that was published by possibly Torah U’Mesorah or some  Jewish educational organization or school in Cleveland. If anyone has any details on that, that would also be helpful.

    Many thanks in advance.

  • Anagrammer

    Member
    July 1, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    When I was that age (or perhaps a bit younger) I loved the Andrew Clements books. I could not get enough of them and was forever ‘on hold’ for them at the library. There is also an incredible book, “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, about a deformed boy. It has some sort of prequel or sequel; I don’t remember which. I don’t want to recommend it because there are a couple of parts that aren’t 100% appropriate, but as a whole the book was ‘kosher’. It was one I cried through the first, second, and third time I read it (I read it first as a tween, but I remember my whole family reading it and loving it as well). I also loved the “Cupcake Diaries” series, though I’m not sure how appropriate they are, looking back now (nothing major, some peripheral boy/girl stuff and the characters are middle-school age themselves). What else? Harry Potter…. you know. Roald Dahl… also British. Also, a good ‘rule of thumb’ – anything published over fifty years ago is probably pretty kosher. So, for example, my parents let me read any of the Nancy Drew books from the first series (I think until around 1960). It’s a different author than the more recent ones, and more appropriate style (the later ones tend to be more feminist). Another series I could not get enough of: American Girl books, even though it was way below my level. They are generally very enriching and meaningful, written in good taste. I’m sure there was more, but I can’t remember offhand; I’m going to try to rack up some other titles…

    As far as frum novels are concerned, you are right. At her age, I’d already moved on to the adult shelves (in our school library the shelves were divided by grade level, and you couldn’t take something out that was above your level. As a fourth grader, however, I’d ‘graduated’ from the lower shelves, and was permitted to take from the higher ones). I think it was good for me. I was reading slightly below my level in the secular literature (since grade level and appropriateness have an inverse relationship) and above in the frum, which significantly improved my vocabulary and writing skills.

    Hope this was helpful. Hatzlacha!

  • Fayge Y.

    Member
    July 1, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    I know just what you mean. First, there is a school in Detroit, Yeshivas Darchei Torah, that’s known for it’s list. I think that http://www.kosherbooks.org is more comprehensive.

    Back to knowing what you mean: I’m a school librarian and involved in buying and ordering books. I am finding great tween books, and books that are high school only if we’re going to get them at all, but not as many in this range. I don’t know how sophisticated a reader your daughter is. An 11 year old might still enjoy Miriam Walfish’s Bubby Karp. And Chani Altein’s new Mimi book. And the new 23 Under 1 Roof book. A 13 y.o. might enjoy the last two. But also Susie Garber’s new book.

    You can go to the Jewish publishers’ sites and see what’s recommended for this age, then read the summary, a page inside if they offer,  and kosherbooks.org recommendation. YMMV re kosherbooks. secular recommendations, but I found it very useful for my kids.

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 1, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    [quote quote=19688]When I was that age (or perhaps a bit younger) I loved the Andrew Clements books. I could not get enough of them and was forever ‘on hold’ for them at the library. There is also an incredible book, “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, about a deformed boy. It has some sort of prequel or sequel; I don’t remember which. I don’t want to recommend it because there are a couple of parts that aren’t 100% appropriate, but as a whole the book was ‘kosher’. It was one I cried through the first, second, and third time I read it (I read it first as a tween, but I remember my whole family reading it and loving it as well). I also loved the “Cupcake Diaries” series, though I’m not sure how appropriate they are, looking back now (nothing major, some peripheral boy/girl stuff and the characters are middle-school age themselves). What else? Harry Potter…. you know. Roald Dahl… also British. Also, a good ‘rule of thumb’ – anything published over fifty years ago is probably pretty kosher. So, for example, my parents let me read any of the Nancy Drew books from the first series (I think until around 1960). It’s a different author than the more recent ones, and more appropriate style (the later ones tend to be more feminist). Another series I could not get enough of: American Girl books, even though it was way below my level. They are generally very enriching and meaningful, written in good taste. I’m sure there was more, but I can’t remember offhand; I’m going to try to rack up some other titles… As far as frum novels are concerned, you are right. At her age, I’d already moved on to the adult shelves (in our school library the shelves were divided by grade level, and you couldn’t take something out that was above your level. As a fourth grader, however, I’d ‘graduated’ from the lower shelves, and was permitted to take from the higher ones). I think it was good for me. I was reading slightly below my level in the secular literature (since grade level and appropriateness have an inverse relationship) and above in the frum, which significantly improved my vocabulary and writing skills. Hope this was helpful. Hatzlacha![/quote]

    Thanks Anagrammer for your in depth response to my query. Amazingly, I actually recognize some of the American authors, Andrew Clements and Nancy Drew,  Beverly Clearly, is another author  that comes to mind, as my daughter loved those authors. She read them when she was younger, and Roald Dahl, too, to an extent. Thanks for all the other suggestions for authors  and series of secular reading material. What you say about reading in a lower level secular wise, is true for my daughter too, who is in sixth grade. And for Jewish literature, i’ve started to encourage to read biographies of people that she can relate too. She’s read the Henny Machlis a”h children’s edition of the story of her life and how special she was, many times. She absolutely loves that book. .So I think she’d probably enjoy the adult biography of Henny Machlis. Hopefully I’ll eventually find some books for her to read over the summer and I’ll certainly take a look at the list that Faigy. T. suggested put out by  Yeshiva Darchei Torah of Detroit.

  • Fayge Y.

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 12:37 am

    Beverly Cleary is clean but probably below her level. And the books are replete with “stupid”s and “shut up”s. YMMV.

    As for Andrew Clements, he’s great. I continued to read his books even after my kids outgrew them. I’d probably let my kids read them if they were of an age and interested but you should be aware that there’s mild boy-girl stuff in everything I’ve read the last few years.

    She might like the adult version of Henny Machlis, a”h. But I have an approach to offering kids books: Some books they would enjoy more a year or two later. I try to stall, because if they read the book too early they might not like it, quit it, and then not pick it up again when it’s really appropriate. I doubt that would be the case with Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup because she’s already interested, but it is something to bear in mind. Though from what you’re saying, she might be past that and ready for anything.

    There are many marvelous biographies. From Djerba to Jerusalem, Rebbetzin Kanievsky (several biographies!), As Long as I Live, To Remain a Jew, Go My Son. I could go on. I loved the biography of Rav Gustman, zt”l but for her, not yet.

  • Elisheva Halle

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 1:48 am

    Did she read Baker’s Dozen? In terms of Jewish books that was my favorite around her age…

    I also recall loving a book called ‘The Doll People’ by Ann M. Martin. I think there were a few books in the series. It was very clean, as far as I remember, but I don’t recall exactly what age it is for, it could be she might be a drop too old for it.

    Also, I recall loving books by Asrtid Lindgren- the author of Pippi Longstocking. Another book of hers I liked was called “Brothers Lionheart”, “Ronia the Robber’s Daughter”, and “Mio, my Son”

  • Anagrammer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 2:12 am

    Ooh, I loved ‘The Doll People’ into teenagehood! And I just remembered another favorite: The ‘Wayside School’ books (collections of comical short stories), about a school with 30 floors, one classroom on each, but no 19th. All the stories are the adventures of the class on the 30th floor (which you get to know very well) and their quirky teachers. Also loved the Rats of Nimh series, about a family of mice and lab rats, a whole adventure. If I remember correctly, I think it’s a trilogy. Junie B. Jones I read from 1st-10th grade (no joke!). And Boxcar Children I probably read until around 6th. And Magic Treehouse… I knew every one of those by heart in second grade, and I used to be the first in the library the day the new ones were published (probably until 7th grade, I used to secretly take them from my brother’s room when he was asleep and devour them in one sitting). And I guess your daughter’s too old for Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, but I think I read those through high school, too (and I remember my father sneaking some peaks here and there, marveling at the ingenuity). Some books are just too good, you never outgrow them.

    This is so nostalgic for me; I’m loving this thread!

  • StoryLuver

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 2:38 am

    The Lost Children of Tarshish is the best. I read it a bunch of times.

    And for a long time my official “favorite book” was The Red Pearl by Nathan Sternfeld. (Might be for a slightly younger age though, not sure).

    There really are a lot of good Jewish kids books out there, way more so than when I was growing up (and I’m pretty young here!)

    In secular, the City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is really compelling and well-written, and clean enough that my brother’s class read it in 8th grade. I read it in high school and loved it.

  • Fayge Y.

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    [quote quote=19723]The Lost Children of Tarshish is the best. I read it a bunch of times.

    .[/quote]

     

    If we’re talking older books, I could go on for an hour.

    There are some more newer books I remembered: Ticket to Life by Esther Toker. Framed by Chayale Kohaine. Name the Stars by Penina Weiser (I LOVE this book.) The Escape from series by Menucha publishers.  Miriam Luxemburg’s Victory Gardens and its sequel (which was fantastic) Field of Dreams. Others I remembered last night and forgot now.

     

     

     

  • Anagrammer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    I second Ticket to Life. Both my 4th grade sister and my mother loved it (that says something about the author)!

    Onions Always Make Me Cry was a favorite of mine for years. It’s short stories geared for tweens, and each one is masterfully created.

  • C.K.

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    I’m a mother of 12 year-old and I hear where you’re coming from. The Judaica market seems to be flooded with books that are to intense for our preteens and that deal with topics that are too far into the future for our preteens as well. I once heard a rule of thumb – to give our children reading materials that deal with, maxium, two to three years ahead of their current stage. That makes books about shidduchim, shalom bayis, and even high school out of our preteen’s league. So I do agree that this market is somewhat underserved.

    On the other hand, being that the Jewish publishing world has been going strong for the last 20 years or so, there is a lot to tap in to in order to satisfy the preteen reader. Even kids like mine who “eat books alive!”

    Here are a couple of titles, and there are plenty more.

    1. The Avner Gold series – starting with The Promised Child.

    2. The Rebbetzin Loves Me

    3. Robot World by M. Jacubowicz

    4. Round Trip by M. Jacubowicz

    5. Starlight by Henye Meyer and I think there’s a companion book as well.

    6. Other thrillers by Esther Toker. Ticket to Life was mentioned. Others are Family Fraud and A Matter of Trust.

    7.  2 Classics by Sara Birnhack, Promise Me Tomorrow and Happy is The Heart

    8.  Regards from Camp series

    This is a varied list, just for starters. Good Luck!

  • Anagrammer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Jewish Girls Around The World series is an enjoyable read and also very educational!

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    [quote quote=19718]Beverly Cleary is clean but probably below her level. And the books are replete with “stupid”s and “shut up”s. YMMV. As for Andrew Clements, he’s great. I continued to read his books even after my kids outgrew them. I’d probably let my kids read them if they were of an age and interested but you should be aware that there’s mild boy-girl stuff in everything I’ve read the last few years. She might like the adult version of Henny Machlis, a”h. But I have an approach to offering kids books: Some books they would enjoy more a year or two later. I try to stall, because if they read the book too early they might not like it, quit it, and then not pick it up again when it’s really appropriate. I doubt that would be the case with Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup because she’s already interested, but it is something to bear in mind. Though from what you’re saying, she might be past that and ready for anything. There are many marvelous biographies. From Djerba to Jerusalem, Rebbetzin Kanievsky (several biographies!), As Long as I Live, To Remain a Jew, Go My Son. I could go on. I loved the biography of Rav Gustman, zt”l but for her, not yet.[/quote]

    You’re right, Beverly Clearly, my daughter doesn’t read them anymore, she’s too old for them.

    Andrew Clements, my daughter loved, she’s read most of them, but outgrown them

    I had a look at the adult version of Hennie Machlis. There was a contents page and I read chapter titles to her and she said she recognized some of the stories from the children’s version. I might just get the adult version for myself. My daughter is so inspired by her and from time to time will retell a story about it, that’s the impression the children’s version of the book made on her. Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup, is a book she re-reads over and over again.

    Rebbetzin Kanievsky, I’ve started to encourage her to read the adult version which a neighbor of mine lent to me. The version I have is loaded with pictures and is excellently written.

    “Go My Son”,  by Chaim Shapiro, I read when I was a kid, I don’t think she’s old enough although she is fascinated by Jewish History, Russian Jewish History as well.

    From Djerba to Jerusalem, I read the blurb, sounds like a fascinating book, which I myself would want to read, especially as I’m British,  and Gatehsead Seminary is familiar to me.

    To Remain a Jew,  about Yitzchak Zilber, actually my daughter read a whole article about Yitzchok Zilber  in one of her junior magazines and is quoting me verbatim the story of his life. I was reading the blurb on Amazon.com and the story was familiar  to me because I had heard it from my daughter.

    You’re right about the biography of Rabbi Gustman zt”l, she would need to be a little older to appreciate the greatness of Rabbi Gustman.

    Thanks so much for all your book suggestions, Fayge, Y. I really appreciate your response with yet more books for my daughter (and myself!) to delve into. By the way, I trained as a librarian in the UK. I worked more in Academic Jewish libraries and am an avid lover of books. I know just what you mean about wanting to order books for a school library and not having the budget to so.

     

     

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    [quote quote=19719]Did she read Baker’s Dozen? In terms of Jewish books that was my favorite around her age… I also recall loving a book called ‘The Doll People’ by Ann M. Martin. I think there were a few books in the series. It was very clean, as far as I remember, but I don’t recall exactly what age it is for, it could be she might be a drop too old for it. Also, I recall loving books by Asrtid Lindgren- the author of Pippi Longstocking. Another book of hers I liked was called “Brothers Lionheart”, “Ronia the Robber’s Daughter”, and “Mio, my Son”[/quote]

    Thanks Elisheva, for all your suggestions. I used to read Baker’s Dozen  when I was a teenager, could never get my mind around it. Maybe because I didn’t experience the American Jewish upper middle school and high school.

    The Doll People, by Ann. M. Martin, I looked it up on Amazon, it’s just the book I would enjoy and it’s nice that I’m getting to know American literature for children through you all the posters to this thread.

     Pippy Longstocking by Astrid LIndgren my daughter read and enjoyed and her other books you mentioned look interesting too.

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    [quote quote=19722]Ooh, I loved ‘The Doll People’ into teenagehood! And I just remembered another favorite: The ‘Wayside School’ books (collections of comical short stories), about a school with 30 floors, one classroom on each, but no 19th. All the stories are the adventures of the class on the 30th floor (which you get to know very well) and their quirky teachers. Also loved the Rats of Nimh series, about a family of mice and lab rats, a whole adventure. If I remember correctly, I think it’s a trilogy. Junie B. Jones I read from 1st-10th grade (no joke!). And Boxcar Children I probably read until around 6th. And Magic Treehouse… I knew every one of those by heart in second grade, and I used to be the first in the library the day the new ones were published (probably until 7th grade, I used to secretly take them from my brother’s room when he was asleep and devour them in one sitting). And I guess your daughter’s too old for Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, but I think I read those through high school, too (and I remember my father sneaking some peaks here and there, marveling at the ingenuity). Some books are just too good, you never outgrow them. This is so nostalgic for me; I’m loving this thread![/quote]

    How do you manage to pinpoint exactly my daughter’s sense of humor? The Wayside School Series, sounds from your description like a great read, I”d read it myself just for relaxation. Also the Rats of Nimh series, I think she’d enjoy too.  We ordered a few from Amazon, this afternoon.

    The Magic Tree House Series, my daughter read when she was younger 2nd or 3rd grade, enjoyed them too, the fact that she could learn about new places in the world , scientific stuff all whilst enjoying a good story.

    I know what you mean about books being so good, that one never outgrows them, I have a whole bunch of authors I discovered when I was a teenager, early twenties, I could read books by these authors, again and again , deriving something different each time I read the book again.

    Mrs. Piggle Wiggle sounds hilarious just from the title, it’s always good to relax and shake off adulthood and go back into the world of children once in awhile.

     

    [quote quote=19732]I second Ticket to Life. Both my 4th grade sister and my mother loved it (that says something about the author)!

    Well that certainly does say something about the author.  From the blurb I read it seems to be quite a hair raising thriller.

    Onions Always Make Me Cry was a favorite of mine for years. It’s short stories geared for tweens, and each one is masterfully created.[/quote]

    That sounds like a good read. I googled it and I think it’s over 50 dollars because it’s not printed anymore. In all my research for these books I discovered a very handy website called bookfinder.com which gives you all the booksellers and second hand book stores that sell  a book one is looking for and also gives you the price too.

    Abebooks.com, is also a good website to get out of print books in  new format or almost new. I used to use that website when I was in England. I think Abebooks.com originates in England and now has branches all across the world.

    Thanks for all your responses and suggestions and for sharing some of your childhood memories, Anagrammer. I seem to have created a storm of responses with this thread. I never expected to get so many responses. I’ve been looking for at least 6 months and now I have so many different suggestions and resources to find the books.

     

     

    [quote quote=19752]Jewish Girls Around The World series is an enjoyable read and also very educational![/quote]

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    [quote quote=19723]The Lost Children of Tarshish is the best. I read it a bunch of times. And for a long time my official “favorite book” was The Red Pearl by Nathan Sternfeld. (Might be for a slightly younger age though, not sure). There really are a lot of good Jewish kids books out there, way more so than when I was growing up (and I’m pretty young here!) In secular, the City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is really compelling and well-written, and clean enough that my brother’s class read it in 8th grade. I read it in high school and loved it.[/quote]

    The Lost Children of Tarshish, I’ve never read before although I’ve vaguely heard of it, seems an interesting mix of Jewish history, adventure and the title itself is intriguing too.

    City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau I looked it up on Amazon, seems like thriller type historical fiction, it’s amazing how many authors there are  and how much children’s literature exists.

    The Red Pearl by Natan Strnfeld, I’ve never heard of, tried to search for it on various websites but couldn’t find it.

    I really do appreciate your suggestions, StoryLuver, and your memories of reading theses books.

     

     

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    [quote quote=19730][quote quote=19723]The Lost Children of Tarshish is the best. I read it a bunch of times. .[/quote] If we’re talking older books, I could go on for an hour. There are some more newer books I remembered: Ticket to Life by Esther Toker. Framed by Chayale Kohaine. Name the Stars by Penina Weiser (I LOVE this book.) The Escape from series by Menucha publishers. Miriam Luxemburg’s Victory Gardens and its sequel (which was fantastic) Field of Dreams. Others I remembered last night and forgot now.[/quote]

    Just realized that I didn’t respond to your other suggestions in the post where I commented on The Lost Children of TArshish., Fayge Y. Thanks for all your other suggestions. I had a look at MIriam Luxenberg’s books you mentioned, also sound like great books to read.

    Stars by Penina Weiser, my daughter said she started to read but didn’t get hooked on it, I guess each person has different tastes in terms of book reading.

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    [quote quote=19751]I’m a mother of 12 year-old and I hear where you’re coming from. The Judaica market seems to be flooded with books that are to intense for our preteens and that deal with topics that are too far into the future for our preteens as well. I once heard a rule of thumb – to give our children reading materials that deal with, maxium, two to three years ahead of their current stage. That makes books about shidduchim, shalom bayis, and even high school out of our preteen’s league. So I do agree that this market is somewhat underserved. On the other hand, being that the Jewish publishing world has been going strong for the last 20 years or so, there is a lot to tap in to in order to satisfy the preteen reader. Even kids like mine who “eat books alive!” Here are a couple of titles, and there are plenty more.

    1. The Avner Gold series – starting with The Promised Child.

    2. The Rebbetzin Loves Me

    . Robot World by M. Jacubowicz

    4. Round Trip by M. Jacubowicz

    5. Starlight by Henye Meyer and I think there’s a companion book as well.

    6. Other thrillers by Esther Toker. Ticket to Life was mentioned. Others are Family Fraud and A Matter of Trust.

    7. 2 Classics by Sara Birnhack, Promise Me Tomorrow and Happy is The Heart 8. Regards from Camp series This is a varied list, just for starters. Good Luck![/quote]

    Ah, you bring back memories, C.K. In particular Sarah Birnhack’s Happy is the Heart. We read that even though it described the American Jewish experience of growing up in  I think  in NY. It was still a classic. Now that I live in America, I’ll probably pick up all the American nuances. I actually found a copy for reasonable price and ordered it for my daughter (well for me also, go back down memory lane, it must be over 30 years or more since I read the book and I must have read it a zillion times.

    Promise me Tomorrowby Sarah Birnhack. I don’t think I read, must see if I can get hold of it somewhere.

    Also Avner Gold Series, I used to read, my brothers used to read his books which are more Jewish Historical Fiction.

    Robot World by M. Jacubowicz Round Trip by M. Jacubowicz – yes my daughter likes books by this author as well.

    The Rebbitzin Loved Me – which rebbetzin is this referring to: Rebbetzin Bat Sheva Kanievsky?

    The rest of the books on your list, I still have to research.

    I really do appreciate your detailed list of suggestions, C.K.

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    Member
    July 2, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Missed answering you on ” Jewish Girls Around the World Series, Anagrammer, sounds like a book series my daughter would enjoy. I’ll let you know.

  • Fayge Y.

    Member
    July 3, 2020 at 1:06 am

    [quote quote=19793][quote quote=19718] By the way, I trained as a librarian in the UK. I worked more in Academic Jewish libraries and am an avid lover of books. I know just what you mean about wanting to order books for a school library and not having the budget to so.[/quote]

    I worked in an academic library in high school. That was the extent of my training.

    BH we have a budget, someone else does much of the buying, which suits me, because she also prereads them.

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