Many people have been asking for books to read to children to ensure representation of Jewish and Israeli families as well as Palestinian and Muslim families right now. It is important that we keep representation at the forefront of what we do and embrace humanity. With the rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia across the country, we believe in teaching and embracing empathy, inclusion, and understanding.
Below is a list of books to ensure your children/students aren’t taking in negative stereotypes about Israelis, Jewish people, Palestinians, or Muslim individuals.
Why is this so important?
Children now more than ever need to see themselves represented in the books they read. They deserve to see positive representations of themselves. Children who are not Jewish or Palestinian need to see these books to combat the bias and hate they may be hearing.
Many people have been asking for books to read their children to ensure representation of Jewish and Israeli families as well as Palestinian and Muslim families right now. It is important that we keep representation at the forefront of what we do and embrace humanity. With the rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia across the country, we believe in teaching and embracing empathy, inclusion, and understanding.
Below is a list of books to ensure your children/students aren’t taking in negative stereotypes about Israelis, Jewish people, Palestinians, or Muslim individuals. Why is this so important? Children now more than ever need to see themselves represented in the books they read. They deserve to see positive representations of themselves. Children who are not Jewish or Palestinian need to see these books to combat the bias and hate they may be hearing.
Books with Palestinian/Muslim representation:
Baba, What Does my Name Mean by Rifk Ebeid is the story of a Palestinian refugee who seeks answers about the meaning of her name from her beloved Baba.
Homeland ; My Father Dreams of Palestine by Hannah Moushabeck is based on a true story. It is about a daughter who sits down each night and listens to stories from her father about Palestine. This intergenerational story embraces the power of love and family.
You are the Color by Rifk Ebeid is another story of a Palestinian refugee who experienced explosion from his homeland and used art to help him process.
These Olive Trees by Aya Ghanameh is the story of a little girl who has to flee her home, but makes a promise to the olive trees that she loves so much that one day she will be back to care for them again.
Halal Hotdogs by by Susannah Aziz is the story of Musa and his family. They enjoy a treat after Jummah prayer at the masjid (mosque). Musa’s favorite is halal hot dogs, but unforeseen obstacles are getting in the way!
Books with Jewish/Israeli representation:
Always an Olivia by Carolivia Herron is the story of a Black Jewish woman who passes along her Jewish family origin story to her granddaughter.
Lilah Tov Goodnight by Ben Gundersheimeris a beautiful Hebrew lullaby that celebrates the importance of family and nature.
Challah Day written by Charlotte Offsay is a celebratory book about a family’s tradition of making challah bread. The book showcases step by step instructions and also includes a recipe so you can make your own.
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg: We LOVE that this book features a multiethnic home in which their Indian-Jewish family fries dosas for Hanukkah as opposed to latkes. Highlighting various family dynamics during the holidays is such a beautiful way to celebrate all people.
Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff is the story of Goldie, who cooks cholent for Shabbat and invites her neighbors to share in the meal. But one week, she’s too sick to cook, so her neighbors take care of the food for the Shabbat meal. It’s a story of a loving community and hospitality.
Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman takes the reader ona tour of Israel while highlighting such sites as the Old City of Jerusalem, modern Tel Aviv, and the Biblical Zoo while introducing the region’s diverse cultures and customs.
As a company, we will forever feel committed to being a part of a community. A safe space to grieve, discuss, learn, and grow. We wish for peace for everyone reading this and for all. We will continue to check in on our loved ones during this time and we encourage you to do the same. Be a safe space. This is a time that no human should have to live through or bear witness to.
Please know that we also understand that not all Israeli’s are Jewish and not all Palestinians are Muslim, but in the fight against the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia it is important to specifically highlight both.
(Posted with permission KIND Cotton, Kindcotton.com)
- If you feel uncertain about how to start this conversation with children, practice with adults first. Notice the parts of the conversation where you might need assistance and ask for support from other adults.
- Ask children what they know and what they have heard. Listen to the child’s story and follow the child’s lead. Use simple language and correct any misunderstood accounts. Tell a child what they need to know, not all that you know.
- Be there and be calm. Monitor your own emotion and tone of voice. Pay attention to your gestures, affect, and voice because children pay special attention to these ways of communicating. Children scan the faces, voices, and movements of others to discern safety. Your presence, voice, words, soft and loving touches, provide each child with the best ways of feeling safe.
- Share your feelings. It is okay and important for children to know that the adults in their lives have the same feelings when bad things happen. Ask about their feelings. Often children will experience and express their feelings through their body states. Ask them “what” and “where” they feel (e.g., head, tummy, chest, neck, etc.) as well as “how” do they feel.
- Recognize that there are some feelings that we can only share and cannot fix: Children need us to be there with and for them at such times. It’s appropriate to both not have an answer and be with the children in their sadness and confusion.
- While we encourage telling children about the events of January 6th, monitor repeated exposure to images and reports of the events. Provide enough exposure to inform, but not frighten.
- If children do get scared, remember the 3R’s of security: Relationships, Routines and Restoration. Highlight relationships with familiar and consistent caregivers, family, and friends. Protect and increase routines that are familiar and normalizing.
- Provide structure and communicate safety: Uncertainty is the province of adulthood. While we as adults may feel unsure of the state of our democracy, we must always let children know that we will take care of them and protect them.
- A sense of mastery can help alleviate fear and uncertainty. Encourage your children to get involved in a community or service program such as collecting items for a food bank, making a call to their Congressperson, signing a petition, or writing a letter to someone in local government about something that they would like to help change in their community.
- Remember to take care of yourself: We have all been living with the collective stress of Covid-19 and political uncertainty for a l-o-n-g time. Yet, we know that if the adults in a child’s life are overwhelmed, overstressed, and overtired, it will be more difficult for the child to feel safe, secure and stable. Prioritize the cultivation of the “ABCs” of self-care: awareness, balance, and connection, in your own life.
(Costa, G. & Mulcahy, K, 2021)
NJ-AIMH is committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion, and the use of the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families.
by Lauren Block MD MPH and Adam Block PhD; Illustrated by Debby Rahmalia
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This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. It includes books, videos, films, etc.
If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.
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