Here are a few of our favorite Yom HaAtzmaut books!
Chicken Man by Michelle Edwards is an unequivical favorite. Yes, it’s an old-fashioned Kibbutz, but it’s such a beautiful story, with such a rich depiction of Israel, that you can’t not love it. The story of Rody, the Chicken Man of Kibbutz Hanan knows how to make the best of any situation. While his favorite kibbutz “job” (from back in the old kibbutzim where everyone had their job) is taking care of the chickens, he’s happy to switch when someone else wants to. But what nobody seems to understand is that it’s not that Rody has the easiest job in the kibbutz, it’s that no matter what he does, he finds a way to make the best of it. A timeless lesson! (Great for 4 to 8 year olds.)
Ella’s Trip to Israel by Vivian Newman is a beautiful new book about a little girl’s first trip to Israel. With her parents and her stuffed monkey Koofi by her side, she visits all the sites — from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and the felafel stand — Ella learns the essential meaning of the Israeli phrase “eyn ba’aya” (no problem) as Koofi gets accidentally dropped in mud, dripped on by tahini, pulled on at the kotel and squirted at by the cows at the kibbutz. At the end of the trip, the much-loved stuffed monkey is much as a reminder of her trip as the photo album. (Perfect for 2 to 5 year olds.)
Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa is a gorgeous book that takes place in the Old City of Jerusalem. While the story is highly far-fetched (a Jewish boy and an Arab boy wind up each taking care of the same cat in the old city, and only realize at the end that they’d been doing it together), the artwork is breathtaking and a beautiful vision of the Old City. The story is well-written and touching, and has enough moral sensibility to make up for the central narrative. (Great for kids 6 to 9 years old.)
Zvuvi’s Israel by Tami Lehman-Wilzig is an “I Spy” type of tour through Israel. Zvuvi (a fly) and his cousin Zehava fly throughout the land of Israel, learning about many of the famous (and even more not-so-famous) sites throughout Israel. This heavily detailed book is great for children who love to learn about things on their own — the artwork is beautiful and it’s a much fuller depiction of Israel than is usual found. (Great for kids 7 to 9 years old.)
The Man Who Flies With Birds by Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem is a new book about Yossi Leshem, the world famous Israeli bird expert. A beautiful book, it’s a fascinating non fiction about how Leshem tracked the migratory patterns of the 500 million birds that pass over Israel every year and in doing so, was able to significantly reduce collisions betweens birds and airplanes. (Great for kids 10 and up.)