Middle East Book Awards

Year: 2015

Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Author: Tanya Simon and Richard Simon Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Guiding Question:

Young Oskar is sent from his home by his parents to protect him from the violence in Nazi Europe in the 1930s. Leaving home is scary enough, but Oskar has been sent alone to America to live an aunt he’s never met. Oskar’s parents have taught him the value of blessings which he receives at the hands of strangers as he ventures to his aunt’s home on Broadway Avenue in New York City.

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

  • Honesty- Read the Author’s Note at the end of the book including the description of Kristallnacht. What do you think about Oskar’s parents’ advice in light of what you’ve just read?

  • Empathy- What kinds of thoughts led Oskar’s parents to make their decision to send such a young boy to America alone?

  • Advocacy- Research the plight of the Jews in Nazi Europe. Did anyone advocate for them? Why or why not?

  • Action- Are there groups of people in the world today in which the term pogrom is a reality rather than a term they’re merely reading about? Can you bring attention to their suffering?

What do you think about the tone of this book? Why do you think the authors chose to write this story rather than the story of a Jewish child who stayed in his homeland during this time?

Sociology Concepts:

Year: 2014

The Patchwork Torah

Author: Allison Ofanansky Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing

Guiding Question:

How does learning about other people's beliefs help you appreciate them and the ways they make decisions?

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

  • Honesty- Most stories are written to convey values. What values are presented in this story?

  • Empathy- A small part of the story told about Sarah and Ben who escaped death and imprisonment in Nazi Europe. Do you think this part of the story is important enough to have been a bigger part of this book? Why or why not?

  • Advocacy- One value presented in this book is that we should take care of our environment by recycling. How does the author show that in the story?

  • Action- Learn about a religious group such as the Jewish people in order to better understand and appreciate them. Think about how you can best learn about Jewish people and how you can share what you’ve learned with others. As you learned about Jewish people, what new questions do you have?

Sociology Concepts:

Year: 2013

Hanukkah Bear

Author: Eric A. Kimmel Publisher: Holiday House

Guiding Question:

One value demonstrated by Bubba is generosity. Do you think it’s important to be generous? Are there times it’s OK not be generous? Explain.

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

It seems to be a stretch to use this book to teach about another culture through the indicated protocol. A more appropriate use might be as an introduction to some of the Jewish Hanukkah traditions. If you would like to write a review for this book, please contact one of the site administrator. We’d love to include your ideas!

Sociology Concepts:

Connecting sociology concepts to this book seems to be too far from its intended use. 

Year: 2012

The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other

Author: Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Publisher: Jewish Lights

Guiding Question:

What kinds of things do you feel very strongly about? What kinds of things cause arguments at school?

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

  • Honesty- Sometimes people have such strong opinions that they argue with each other, and need to ask for help.
  • Empathy- Why do you think the people who wanted the mezuzah standing up and the people who wanted it lying down were so angry with each other?
  • Advocacy- During the next situation in which you’re in a disagreement, listen to the other person’s views and think about why they believe what they do.
  • Action- Work on a compromise with the person with whom you disagree. Ask for a teacher to help you work through the compromise. Think about how you can listen better to people with whom you disagree.
Sociology Concepts:
  • Groups
  • Culture/Subculture

Year: 2011

The Golem’s Latkes

Author: retold by Eric A. Kimmel Publisher: Two Lions

Guiding Question:

Is the golem like any other magical beings you've read about? In what ways? 

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

This book seems a stretch to be used to teach about another culture through the indicated protocol. A more appropriate use for this book might be as an introduction to Jewish folklore. If you would like to write a review for this book, please contact one of the site administrator. We’d love to include your ideas!

Sociology Concepts:

Connecting sociology concepts to this book seems to be too far from its intended use.

Year: 2010

The Rooster Prince of Breslov

Author: Ann Redisch Stampler Publisher: Clarion Books

Guiding Question:

Have you ever practiced good deeds on behalf of someone you hardly knew? If so, how did that turn out?

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

This book seems a stretch to be used to teach about another culture through the indicated protocol. A more appropriate use for this book might be as an introduction to Jewish folklore, and the value of practicing mitzvoth (good deeds), and developing rachmunis (true compassion). If you would like to write a review for this book, please contact one of the site administrator. We’d love to include your ideas!

Sociology Concepts:

Connecting sociology concepts to this book seems to be too far from its intended use.