Bessie’s Pillow Review

My 11-year-old daughter and I both enjoyed reading Bessie’s Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc. This is the story of a young Jewish woman fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and starting a new life in America. The book is based on the life of the author’s grandmother as passed on by her mother.


Bessie's Pillow

I love historical fiction. This book is a cross between historical fiction and a memoir, similar to Little House On The Prairie. It is based on a true story but the memories in it were passed through two people before finding their way onto the pages, so it may not be completely accurate. I love this type of book for the historical overview it gives of a specific period in history.

I read the book first since I was not sure what to expect in a book addressing anti-Semitism and immigrant issues.  Except for having to explain the word “rape” in the first sentence of the introduction, it was quite appropriate for her age and addressed many social issues without going into details that were beyond her maturity level. I really didn’t even mind having to explain given her age and the world we live in. Unfortunately, it is time.

I found the book very engaging and learned quite a bit that I didn’t know about the issues in Eastern Europe during that time period. The book follows Bessie from barely an adult to having adult children herself. She meets many challenges but also many joys along the way.


Bessie's Pillow published by strong learning historical fiction mixed with biography story of a Jewish immigrant in the early 20th century.


My 11-year-old really loved the book. She finished in it just a couple of days. She read every chance she got! It also sparked a good bit of discussion between her and I and her and my husband about the history and issues at the time (some quite similar to issues we still have today). This was a great way to teach and discuss how life was 100 years ago.


Check out this video for my daughter’s thoughts on the book:


In the back of the book, there is additional information about life in the early 20th century. There are pictures, links for further study, and written historical information on a variety of subjects including immigration, famous people of the time, recipes, health issues, movies, music and dancing, theater, radio, social movements and more! This information is also available in an interactive format on the Bessie’s America website. In addition to what can be found in the back of the book, the website has links to music and movies from the time, more pictures, information on looking up your own family’s immigration records and more. These resources provide enough material that you could create an entire unit study on the book.


Bessie's Pillow published by strong learning historical fiction mixed with biography story of a Jewish immigrant in the early 20th century.


This is a great book for anyone who enjoys learning about daily life in different time periods. The book is easy to read for a child without being boring for adults. I would say this book is great for children 10 and older. I think any younger than that the social issues may be a little difficult for the child to grasp if reading it alone. It would probably also work well for a family read aloud if used in conjunction with studying that period of history. Plan to have plenty of discussions about the content if reading it with younger children.


Have you read Bessie’s pillow? Tell me what you think in the comments!!

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Click the image below to see other Review Crew reviews of Bessie’s Pillow:

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer


    • I enjoyed it and I don’t usually like youth books. It doesn’t read like a kids book at all. But you would probably still like it, it covers many stages of life. 🙂

  1. I have always been an avid reader. I read to my children and now to my grandchildren. I am always looking for new books to expand their interest in a positive way. Thanks for the information. PS: Your daughter is adorable!

  2. Oh my gosh! I love this so much! How I love your daughter, how bright and aware she is at such a young age, and what a great gift you giver her by providing her with such enriching books and education. If I had a daughter I’d want her to read like your daughter and love it as your daugher seems to..I’m a book worm, and a firm believer in enriching one’s education with more than a public school can offer..I home schooled my son part of his life, and when he chose to go in the public school he lost his love of reading which broke my heart..the forced reading of x amount of pages turned him away from what he onced loved..I hope he returns to it someday..he’s 19..but thankfully loves acting and reads some amazing plays and Shakespeare.. Just loved this post!

    • Thank you for such kind, encouraging words!! I bet your son’s love of reading will return since you laid the foundation!

  3. Thank your daughter, “Up there with Harry Potter”..Wow! So glad you and your daughter enjoyed reading my grandmother’s story.

    Dr. Linda

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