eSource guides are tools for educators--parents or teachers--for helping children understand selected Kar-Ben books. These guides include historical context, definitions, pre- and post- reading questions, plus ideas for projects and activities. Visit this page often or bookmark it, as our library of eSources continues to grow.

Passover Lesson Plans for 3rd & 4th Grade
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Katy's favorite holiday is Rosh Hashanah, when she gets to pick apples and make applesauce with her mother. But what happens when the tradition is interrupted by the early arrival of her new baby cousin? A situation to which every kid can relate, this is a story about what happens when a child realizes she's not always the center of the universe and that family priorities must sometimes change.

Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story Activity Guide
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t’s Tu B’Shevat—Jewish Arbor Day—and a diverse group of children work together to plant a tree. After digging a hole, placing the tree, filling the hole with dirt, patting the ground, and spraying the garden hose, the children celebrate by wishing the tree a happy birthday, and then look forward to when it blossoms on Tu B’Shevat the following year.

Happy Birthday, Trees! eSource Guide
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A little apple tree in a forest of oaks begs God for stars like those glimmering on the branches of the great oak trees beside her. As the seasons pass, she learns to appreciate her own gifts and realizes that it s possible to find a star in each of us.

The Apple Tree's Discovery eSource Guide
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It's almost Hanukkah and the dreidel-maker's shop is busy. But all is not well for the four Hebrew letters that will soon go on the wooden tops. The Heys, the Nuns, and the Shins are jealous of everyone's favorite letter, the Gimel. They decide to hide the Gimels so that the dreidel-maker can't use them. But then the other letters learn that the Hanukkah story wouldn't be complete without the Gimels! Is it too late for the missing letters to be found?

The Missing Letters eSource Guide
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Nate loves aliens and he really wants to wear an alien costume for Purim, but his friends are all dressing as superheroes and he wants to fit in. What will he do? With the help of his two dads he makes a surprising decision.

The Purim Superhero eSource Guide

This true story begins long ago in Spain, where a bride and groom are gifted a hand-painted haggadah. It is used at many Passover seders until the Spanish Inquisition when the family escapes. The Sarajevo haggadah survives for centuries in different countries and has become a symbol of people of many faiths and cultures working together.

Everybody's Book eSource Guide
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Young, awkward, messy Lila the koala wants to help her family get ready for Shabbat dinner. Her plan is to bake her own loaf of challah—but each time she tries, the challah comes out wrong. What's the secret to making the best koala challah ever?

Koala Challah eSource Guide
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After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah s family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot ride on the Sabbath. What will she do? A lovely story of friendship and community.

Hannah's Way eSource Guide
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Shabbat brings 1 table, 2 candles, 3 braids in the challah, and more. Count from 1 to 10 as you get ready for Shabbat. Count from 1 to 10 as you get ready for Shabbat.

Counting on Shabbat eSource Guide

In 16th-century Portugal, even Doña Gracia's Jewish name was a secret. But she and her merchant husband helped other secret Jews, by persuading the king to protect them during the Inquisition. When her husband died, many said no woman would be able to run their international business, but Doña Gracia did. Escaping Portugal, she helped other Jews do the same, smuggling them out of the country on her spice ships in the night. Only in Turkey was she finally able to live freely as a Jew, and to use her resources to build synagogues, hospitals, and schools. Doña Gracia saved worlds

Doña Gracia Saved Worlds eSource Guide

As a child, Isaac Mayer Wise loved to study. Words were like magic keys that could unlock new worlds. He had big ideas and big dreams. Becoming a rabbi, he thought some long-held traditions needed changing, but some of his ideas were unpopular with European Jews. He decided to go to America, where he had heard Jews were more open to new ideas – and they were. He started a Jewish newspaper to share his new ideas and built a synagogue across the street from Cincinnati’s City Hall, inspiring a new kind of Judaism. He founded a seminary where both women and men could study, inspiring a new kind of Judaism, dream by dream.

Dream by Dream: The Story of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise eSource Guide

Ruth First was born in South Africa, where her Jewish family fled from danger in Europe in the early 1900s. South Africa was a safe place for Jews, but not for Black people. Inspired by her parents' example, a teenage Ruth started a secret book club with her friends to talk about inequality, but she knew she also had to speak out in public. In college, she protested with other students, including Nelson Mandela, and wrote stories for the newspaper about racial injustice. Although she was arrested and force to leave her country, she continued to speak out and write about the horrors of apartheid all her life. Ruth First never backed down.

Ruth First Never Backed Down eSource Guide

Luis de Torres is a secret Jew, a Catholic convert, who, in his heart, remains Jewish. When it is decreed, during the Inquisition, that Jews must leave Spain, Luis decides to join the crew of a ship headed for the Far East, where he will start a new life and live freely as a Jew. His nephew gives him a small, silver hamsa to protect him on his journey. The day they are set to sail falls on Tisha B’Av. It would be bad luck to set sail on this day, but the ship’s commander refuses to wait. A storm changes their plans, but could it be that it was Jewish tradition helped protect the ship?

Luis de Torres Sails to Freedom eSource Guide
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Henrietta Szold took Queen Esther as a model and worked hard to save the Jewish people. In 1912, she founded the Jewish women's social justice organization, Hadassah. Henrietta started Hadassah determined to offer emergency medical care to mothers and children in Palestine. When WWII broke out, she rescued Jewish children from the Holocaust, and broadened Hadassah's mission to include education, youth development, and women's rights. Hadassah offers free help to all who need it and continues its mission to this day.

A Queen to the Rescue eSource Guide
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One building looks like it's been wrapped in tinfoil. Another looks like it's buried under a pile of paint chips. Frank Gehry has been called “the most important architect of our age”. As a child, his parents thought of him as but nothing but a dreamer who wouldn’t amount to anything. Even so, Frank kept dreaming and playing, eventually following his passions and becoming an architect who created astounding buildings that to this day attract millions of visitors worldwide.

Frank, Who Liked to Build: The Architecture of Frank Gehry eSource Guide
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Even at the age of nine, little Golda Meir was known for being a leader. As the president of the American Young Sisters Society, she organizes her friends to raise money to buy textbooks for immigrant classmates. A glimpse at the early life of Israel s first female Prime Minister, who was born in Russia and grew up in Milwaukee, this story is based on a true episode in the early life of Golda Meir.

Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir's First Crusade eSource Guide
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In the years between WWI and WWII, young Henryk Goldszmidt dreamed of creating a better world for children. As an adult, using the pen name Janusz Korczak, he became a writer, doctor, and an enlightened leader in the field of education, unaware to what use his skills were destined to be put. Dr. Korczak established a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw where he introduced the world to his progressive ideas in child development and children s rights. When the Nazis occupy Warsaw, the orphanage is moved to the ghetto, and when the 200 children in his care are deported, Dr. Korczak famously refuses to be saved, marching with his charges to the train that will take them to their deaths. This biography of Janusz Korczak is a chapter book for elementary school readers and has full color illustrations

Janusz Korczak's Children eSource Guide
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Jewish philanthropist Judah Touro sets out from Boston to New Orleans in 1801, dreaming of becoming a successful shopkeeper. With his skill in business, he earns a great fortune. But after he is injured on the battlefield in the War of 1812, Judah begins to see the world through new eyes. He recognizes that his true calling may be to help others. Grateful and humble, Judah begins to perform philanthropic deeds, large and small—all in secret.

Judah Touro Didn't Want to Be Famous eSource Guide
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This graphic novel biography is the story of Soviet Jewry “refusenik” and human rights activist Anatoly “Natan” Sharansky. Born in 1948 to a Jewish family in Ukraine, at that time part of the Soviet Union, he was arrested as a young man and later imprisoned for wanting to leave the Soviet Union and go to Israel. His struggle became the struggle of all Soviet Jews who wished to leave. With the help of his wife, many Jewish activists, and world leaders, he eventually succeeded in immigrating to Israel, paving the way for the release of other Soviet Jews who wished to live in freedom.

Natan Sharansky: Freedom Fighter for Soviet Jews eSource Guide
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It's 1937, and Marian Anderson is one of the most famous singers in America. But after she gives a performance for an all-white audience, she learns that the nearby hotel is closed to African Americans. She doesn't know where she'll stay for the night. Until the famous scientist Albert Einstein invites her to stay at his house. Marian, who endures constant discrimination as a Black performer, learns that Albert faced prejudice as a Jew in Germany. She discovers their shared passion for music—and their shared hopes for a more just world.

The Singer and the Scientist eSource Guide
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Shoham wears a golden bangle on her wrist, just like her Nana Aziza. Their bangles jingle when they cook, and glitter in the sun. When Shoham and her family must leave Iraq, they are allowed to take only one suitcase each. They may take no jewelry. Shoham has the important job of carrying Nana’s homemade pita bread, which Nana says they will eat when they get to Israel. But when they finally arrive and it is time to eat, Shoham bites into something hard inside the pita bread.

Shoham's Bangle eSource Guide

When the Israeli author-illustrator runs in a field or swims in the sea, she looks for something to hold in her had: a pebble or a feather. She leaves them in their habitats...for the reader to find.

A Feather, A Pebble, A Shell Activity Guide
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A child and her mother take a walk in the forest near Jerusalem, gazing at their reflections in a rippling pond and appreciating their time together. Inspired by the poem “The Pond” by Hayim Nahman Bialik.

In the Jerusalem Forest eSource Guide
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Daniel likes to do things backwards and upside down. He walks on his hands, walks backwards, and eats cereal for dinner. His teacher reminds him that when he visits the Prime Minister's office, he must be on his best behavior. But when something unexpected happens, can Daniel resist his urge to do a headstand? Uh oh! What would the Prime Minister say?

Upside-Down Boy and the Israeli Prime Minister eSource Guide
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Anne Frank’s diary is a gift to the world because of Miep Geis. One of the protectors of the Frank family, Miep recovered the diary after the family was discovered by Nazis, and then returned it to Otto Frank after World War II. Displaced from her own home as a child during World War I, Miep had great empathy for Anne, and she found ways—like talking about Hollywood gossip and fashion trends—to engage her. The story of their relationship—and the impending danger to the family in hiding—unfolds in this unique perspective of Anne Frank’s widely known story.

Behind the Bookcase: Miep Gies, Anne Frank, and the Hiding Place eSource Guide
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A neighborhood cat observes the changes in German and Jewish families in Berlin during the period leading up to Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. This cat's-eye view introduces the Holocaust to children in a gentle way that can open discussion of this period.

Benno and the Night of Broken Glass eSource Guide
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Follow the incredible journey of a small Torah scroll from a Dutch rabbi to a Bar Mitzvah boy during the Holocaust and finally to Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, who died on space shuttle Columbia.

Keeping the Promise eSource Guide
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From the age of five, Marcel Marceau knew he wanted to be a silent actor, just like Charlie Chaplin. When World War II intervened, he joined the resistance, helping to get young Jews to safety during this dangerous time. But Marcel never forgot his dream of being a mime artist and entertaining the world.

Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime eSource Guide
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In A Scarf for Keiko, it's 1942 in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, where Jewish American and Japanese American families like Sam’s and Keiko’s were neighbors. At school, their class is knitting socks for soldiers. Sam is a terrible knitter and Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don't want anything to do with Keiko because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and anti-Japanese feelings are running high. Sam knows he should stand up for what’s right, just like his older brother who is fighting the Nazis in Europe. So when Keiko's family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, Sam finds a way to demonstrate his friendship for her.

A Scarf for Keiko eSource Guide
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According to legend, a group of Jewish families survived the Holocaust by hiding out for months in the 77 miles of caves in Ukraine known as Priest's Grotto. Cavers Taylor and Nicola chronicle their trip to explore the caves and uncover the story of the survivors.

The Secret of Priest's Grotto eSource Guide
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At a middle school in a small, all white, all Protestant town in Tennessee, a special after-school class was started to teach the kids about the Holocaust, and the importance of tolerance. The students had a hard time imagining what six million was (the number of Jews the Nazis killed), so they decided to collect six million paperclips, a symbol used by the Norwegians to show solidarity with their Jewish neighbors during World War II. German journalists Dagmar and Peter Schroeder, whose involvement brought the project international attention, tell the dramatic story of how the Paper Clip Project grew, culminating in the creation of The Children's Holocaust Memorial.

Six Million Paper Clips eSource Guide
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In The Whispering Town it is 1943 in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son, Carl, in their cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to safety in neutral Sweden. With the help of the baker, the librarian, the farmer, and her neighbors, Anett keeps Carl and his mother safe even as Nazi soldiers search her street for hidden Jews. With the Nazis closing in, and worried about Carl s safety, Anett thinks of a clever and unusual plan to get Carl and his mother safely to the harbor on a cloudy night without the moon to guide them. Based on a true story.

The Whispering Town eSource Guide

The exercises in this book encourage children to use everyday items to inspire mindfulness. Mindfulness, the Jewish value of Yishuv Hada'at, means paying attention to what is happening around us.

Jewish Mindfulness for Kids eSource Guide
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Jenny loves to jump. But when jumping gets her in trouble, she decides to retire her pogo stick. Then her school decides to hold a fundraising fair, and she discovers that her skill can be used for a good cause.

Jumping Jenny eSource Guide
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In Mitzvah Pizza, every week Missy and her father do something special together. But one day, she and her dad stop for pizza, and Missy discovers a special way to do a mitzvah. Based on a true story of a pizza shop in Philadelphia (described in the back matter), this story explores the true meaning of tzedakah—giving to others while not making them feel as if they've been helped.

Mitzvah Pizza eSource Guide
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Rosie can't wait to start doing good deeds to save the world. But as she helps the people in her neighborhood, she is soon so busy saving the world that she doesn't have time for her own family! It turns out, though, that the greatest acts of tikkun olam—repairing the world—start in her own home.

Rosie Saves the World eSource Guide

Melanie desperately wants to be accepted by the Shimmers, the popular kids in her class—until she gets to know the new girl in town. Soon she must choose between popularity and true friendship.

Things That Shimmer eSource Guide

Twelve-year-old Shai hates everything about moving to America from Israel. She's determined to come up with a plan that will get her back home. Maybe she can go back with her grandparents when they come to visit. Or maybe she can win a drawing competition that offers a plane ticket to any destination in the world as the grand prize. Meanwhile she's stuck navigating seventh grade in a language that used to be just a subject in school. As Shai faces antisemitism but also gains support from unexpected sources, she starts to see her new life with different eyes. Maybe home is a place in the heart.

Not So Shy eSource Guide
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It’s also a dynamic pirate adventure on the high seas, with hand-to-hand combat and ship-to-ship action, and the powerful story of a dark time in history when people took different paths to survive.José Alfaro is a cocky, rambunctious teen in the 16th-century colony of Santo Domingo, pulling pranks and dodging the authorities. One day, José’s mischief lands him in serious trouble. Hoping for a fresh start, he stows away on the Laqish, not knowing that it’s a pirate ship. From his hiding place, he watches the pirates divide their loot and plan their attacks on long days at sea. He also takes note of the respect they have for their captain, the intimidating Toledano. But the captain has a secret—like José, he is a Jew. For him, piracy is not about the gold; it has a different purpose. Under the tutelage of the ship’s quartermaster, José learns the intricacies of pirate life. But when he can, the captain finds ways to pull José away from the crew, to teach him about his ancestors. José finds his community. His place. His voice. His purpose. This is a pirate story, but also a story of survival—a story of a young man’s deep need to know who he is, where he comes from, and where he’s going.

José and the Pirate Captain Toledano eSource Guide
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It’s 1928 in Odessa, Texas, and eleven-year-old James is struggling to find his purpose in life and to uncover a family secret. With his father struck dead by lightning and his mother in jail, he is taken in by his grandparents. Treated as a pariah at school, James is taunted as being cursed by his family’s bad luck. But he finds a friend in Paul, a Russian immigrant, who is also treated as an outcast, and together, they battle the school bully. But James's life is turned upside-down yet again when he uncovers a family secret involving his beloved grandmother. His discovery leads him to find the sense of purpose he's been seeking.

When Lightnin' Struck eSource Guide
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In 1996, on her 15th birthday, Bat-Chen Shahak was killed by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Center. But the gifted teenager left behind a rich legacy of diaries, letters, poems and drawings. Following her death, her parents gathered her writings and created The Bat-Chen Diaries ; this is the first English translation of her work.

The Bat-Chen Diaries eSource Guide
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Motti knows that war is coming. Israel is only nineteen years old—the same age as Motti's brave older brother, Gideonand the tiny country is surrounded by enemies. It's only a matter of time before Egypt, Jordan and Syria attack. Motti wishes he could join the Israeli army like Gideon and be a hero. But when his best friend's family flees the country and his brother goes off to fight, Motti realizes this war isn't a game. His family is in danger, and Israel's very survival is at stake. But hope comes to Motti in unexpected forms. In the kind Ethiopian priest who lives nearby. In his grouchy neighbor, old Mrs. Friedburg. In the young Germans who come to offer help. In his father's childhood friend, a Jordanian man who harbors none of the hate Motti expects.

The Six-Day Hero eSource Guide

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Noah is a would-be filmmaker who has trouble making friends and understanding people. Noah thinks that this summer, the best place for him is the David Lynch Film Camp, to work on his film “opus,” and not his parents’ choice, Camp Challah, to work on his bar mitzvah project. But before camp starts, Noah’s grandfather, “Pops” takes him aside, along with Simon, a new arrival but not quite friend, and tells them both “It’s up to you to save the world!” Is Pops just confused, or is he onto something? When a pigeon flies into camp carrying mysterious messages, Noah and Simon wonder if maybe they do really have to save the world.

Noah Green Saves the World eSource Guide
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Raised a Catholic, when 12-year-old Miguel suddenly learns that his ancestors were Jewish, his world seems to turn upside down. Rushing from the house, he becomes lost in the desert. Captured by a band of Apaches, after a daring escape he meets Rushing Cloud, a Tohono O’odham youth who is running away from a mission school. As the boys travel toward home, Miguel learns to survive in the desert, but more importantly, he begins to see his heritage in a new light.

Walk Till You Disappear eSource Guide
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For twelve-year-old Rosetta Wolfson, the war in Europe seems very far off from her home in Canada. Then Mr. Schwartzberg comes to tea and asks Rosetta's parents if they will take in a young war refugee. Isaac joins the family and becomes a ready-made brother to Rosetta and her two sisters. Isaac's arrival brings change. Her best friend's handsome brother doesn't seem as attractive after he reveals himself as anti-Semitic, and Rosetta begins to suspect her friend may agree with him. As Rosetta and Isaac become friends and he shares his story with her, she helps him learn the fate of other family members and helps him shape a promising future in his new country.

Room for One More eSource Guide
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After a pogrom forces Batya's Russian Jewish family to leave their home and make the journey to America, Batya hopes her new life will offer her a chance to become a woodcarver like her beloved father. But while many things in America are different from the world of her shtetl, one thing seems to be the same: only boys can be woodcarvers. Still, Batya is determined to learn. With the same perseverance that helped her family survive and start over in an unfamiliar land, Batya sets out to carve a place for herself.

The Woodcarver's Daughter eSource Guide
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