Sonia Levitin

Sonia Levitin mined both her personal history and major historical events for her award–winning books for children and young adults. Levitin’s family fled Germany in 1938 and settled first in New York, then Los Angeles. Levitin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1956 and went west to San Francisco to raise her children. She studied at the Directed Writing Program at San Francisco College and worked as a newspaper columnist before the publication of her first book, Journey to America, in 1970. The book, which detailed her family’s struggle, was an instant classic and won the Jewish Book Council National Book Award as well as becoming an American Library Association Notable Book. She went on to win awards for more playful books like Rita the Weekend Rat in 1971 and Incident at Loring Groves in 1988. But it was her spellbinding book on the airlift rescue of Ethiopian Jews, The Return, in 1987, which won her the National Jewish Book Award, the Sydney Taylor Award, and the PEN Los Angeles Award, among many others. The Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People honored Levitin with its Distinguished Body of Work Award in 1981 and again in 1994.


Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Sonia Levitin.
Courtesy of Rita Berman Frischer.
Date of Birth


Journalist, Writer

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sonia Levitin." (Viewed on June 17, 2021) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox