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Interview with Linda Silver

On Sunday March 13th at 1:00 in the Hartzmark Library of Temple Tifereth Israel, please join our chaper as we celebrate the publication of Linda Silver’s new book, Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens.   Thank you to Linda for taking the time to answer a few questions.  

(AJL GCC) How did you become interested in Jewish Literature for children?

            (LINDA  SILVER) First, I believe I was born to be a reader.  In library school, I was educated to be a children’s librarian.  Children’s books are my love and they have been the focal point of my professional career.  When I became a synagogue librarian, I learned the power of books to inculcate Jewish values and Jewish identity, to express the honor of being Jewish, and to ignite the curiosity of Jewish children.

(AJL-GCC) What are the challenges of writing about Jewish Books for children?

            (LS)Writing about books requires discipline and concentration along with deep knowledge and even deeper respect for the power of literature to illuminate human experience.  Perhaps my biggest challenge when I was writing Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens was working with JPS’s superb copy editor, Janet Liss.  She questioned almost everything I wrote and made me a better author of a better book in the process.

(AJL GCC) Are there any new, up-and-coming authors that you recommend?

           (LS)  I admire the passion and authenticity of writers like Margot Rabb, Sarah Darer Littman, Erica Silverman, and the pseudonymous Eshes Chayil, who wrote Hush. 

          (AJL GCC) What can attendees expect to hear about during your presentation?

            (LS) I intend for my presentation to be a discussion of what makes a best book, what makes a Jewish book, and how librarians can use my book to enhance their own work in school and synagogue libraries.

 (AJL GCC) What is your favorite AJL memory or experience?

            (LS) Just one?  Winning AJL’s Fanny Goldstein Award for meritorious service to Judaic libraries was a great honor.

            Serving on and then chairing the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee was a wonderful experience that has influenced my subsequent career as well as forming some treasured friendships.

            Experiencing how the Greater Cleveland Chapter coalesced to pull off the 1996 AJL convention in Cleveland was a roller coaster ride.  The planning for that convention got off to a very rocky start.  Seven of us in AJL-GCC formed a planning committee, meeting once a week at Fran Friedman’s, having a sometimes trying but more often great time of it, bonding over our shared goal of creating a great Cleveland experience, and remaining friends ever since.

            Funniest memory of a person with a sardonic sense of humor: the convention Awards banquet when the Sydney Taylor Book Award winning author gave a long but entirely inaudible speech; the winning illustrator’s foreign accent made his speech incomprehensible; and the winning Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award winner chose to tell the audience all about her infertility problems. Oy!

To RSVP to Sunday’s program, please contact Ilka Gordon at:



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For The Trees

Tu b’Shevat is just around the corner.   Linda Silver has compiled a new list of books to help you celebrate.



15 Shevat 5771, Jan. 20, 2011

BEHOLD THE TREES by Sue Alexander.  Arthur A. Levine, 2001.  Ages 8-12.

Israel’s history is traced through its trees from ancient times to the present.  Stunning illustrations, some with images embedded in them, show destruction and re-birth.

DEAR TREE: A TU B’SHEVAT WISH by Doba Rivka Weber.  Hachai, 2010.  Ages 2-5.

A tree growing outside the synagogue is wished sunshine, birds, blossoms, green leaves, strong protective bark, deep roots, and all of Hashem’s other gifts by a little boy who promises to take care of it.

HONI’S CIRCLE OF TREES by Phillis Gershator.  JPS, 1995.  Gr. 3-7.

Honi is a character from the Talmud who plants carob trees, falls, asleep, and wakes many years later to discover that all the people he know are gone but trees he planted are bearing fruit.

IT’S TU B’SHEVAT by Edie Stoltz Zolkower.  Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2005.  Ages 2-4.

This simple board book follows a little boy as he grabs a shovel, digs a hole and plants a tree on Tu B’Shevat. As we watch, the boy and the tree grow older; he and his family picnic under its shade and enjoy the fruit it bears.  Illustrated in lush pastels and written in verse, the narrative flows easily.

THE KIDS’ CATALOG OF ANIMALS AND THE EARTH by Chaya Burstein.  JPS, 2006.  Ages. 8-12.

In her usually sprightly style, the author brings together facts, history, lore, legend, short stories, experiments, crafts and activities, a short encyclopedia and index to focus on Israel and Judaism.

LISTEN TO THE TREES: JEWS AND THE EARTH by Molly Cone.  UAHC Press, 1995.  Ages 8-11.

Torah says to care for the trees, the birds, beasts, and fish, and the earth – for all things are connected.  Children sampling this eclectic mixture of stories, cartoons, anecdotes, and quotations will discover the connection that exists between Jewish tradition and ecological values.

THE NEVER-ENDING GREENNESS by Neil Waldman.  Morrow, 1997.  Ages 7-10.

The narrator begins his story as a boy and ends it as an old man, telling of coming to Palestine with his parents as refugees from the Holocaust, his hopes of filling the land with trees, and the eventual fruition of the Zionist dream of making the dry places bloom.

NOAH’S TREES by Bijou LeTord.  HarperCollins, 1999.  Ages 4-7.

Noah is a steward of the earth who plants and tends trees until they grow into a huge forest. He intends to give the trees to his sons but God has other plans and obedient Noah must use his trees to make an ark. After the ark is finished and the animals have boarded, Noah carries in little green saplings from the trees he loved the most.

PEARL MOSKOWITZ’S LAST STAND by Arthur Levine.  Tambourine, 1993.  Ages 7-10.

Saving the last tree on their urban street becomes the mission of a diverse group of older ladies.  A young city bureaucrat has no chance when they overwhelm him with food, family photos, card games, and stories.

PEARL PLANTS A TREE by Jane Breskin Zalben.  Simon and Schuster, 1995.  Ages 4-7.

Pearl, a little sheep, and her grandfather plant an apple seed, nurturing it as it sprouts.  Delicate watercolor paintings of petals, leaves, and blossoms decorate the story, which is followed by a note about Tu b’Shevat and other tree planting ceremonies.

REMARKABLE PARK by Patti Argoff.  Feldheim, 2010.  Ages 3-6.

Walking through the park, a boy and girl notice all of the ways that nature sings God’s praises and realize that through nature, we can all draw closer to God.

SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST TU B’SHEVAT by Sylvia Rouss.  Kar-Ben Copies, 2000.  Ages 3-6.

Similar to Yaffa Ganz’s A TREE FULL OF MITZVAHS, this addition to the Sammy Spider series shows a tree and the animals that benefit from it through all four seasons of the year.

SOLOMON AND THE TREES by Matt Biers-Ariel.  UAHC Press, 2001.  Gr.1-3

Drawing on legends about King Solomon and Jewish teachings about humankind’s responsibility to care for nature, this dramatically illustrated story stresses personal responsibility.


More information about all of these books and more about Tu b’Shevat can be found in the Jewish Valuesfinder,

Click TU BISHAVAT BOOK LIST to download a copy of this list.


Filed under Book Lists, Holidays, Tu b'Shevat, Uncategorized