Barbara Krasner | History Writer and Poet

Legendary Locals of Kearny

A compilation of more than 100 mini-biographies of the people who helped shape the town of Kearny, past and present.

"Barbara Krasner’s collection of poems, Chicken Fat, is rich and soulful, redemptive, and full of the soothing spice that makes poetry come alive. She writes about heritage, family, the Jewish experience and identity in a way that is fresh and robust. Her poetry is warm, accessible, and utterly singular in its ability to put you right into the middle of the simmer and let you feel all the spice and ‘fat’ of the human experience."--Matthew Lippman

"In her first book for children, Krasner presents a pleasantly fictionalized story about a future world leader." -- Kirkus

Winner of 2015 Sydney Taylor Honor Book Award for Older Readers! "First-time children's author Krasner's first person narration matches her heroine's forthrightness and fortitude..."--Publisher's Weekly

See my Selected Works for Photos from Poland

Inside Prague's Jerusalem Synagogue

The grave of Rabbi Lev (MaHaRaL) in Prague. Czech Republic

History Writer and Poet in New Jersey

The world conspires to help you

When I read Paulo Coehlo's book, The Alchemist, I realized my path was to become a writer. As a child I used to buy printing kits and write and produce my own newsletters I sold to my classmates. In my freshman year of high school, I banged out stories on yellow stationery just for fun and gave them to my favorite teacher and friend to read.

But it was only after my father died in late 1997 that I became serious. I had been researching my family's history since 1989 and I decided to write about that. There's no doubt that passion finds its way on to the page. Within just a few years, my articles appeared in several genealogy magazines, including:

  • Ancestry

  • Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy

  • Family Chronicle

  • Family Tree Magazine

  • Genealogical Computing

  • Heritage Quest

I branched out to history magazines, such as History Magazine and History Channel Magazine, and to writers' magazines such as Writer's Digest and The Writer. For five years I served as a contributing editor to three magazines while I was also working full-time as a single mom in a large high-tech company.

Becoming a children's writer

I had always wanted to write for children. I attended the Highlights Foundation Workshop at Chautauqua (NY) and received valuable advice, including query each issue of the magazines you want to write for. The following month I received my first assignment for Calliope and others soon followed:

  • Appleseeds

  • Babaganewz

  • Cobblestone

  • Footsteps

  • Highlights for Children

  • Odyssey

From magazines to books

My first book, Images of America: Kearny, New Jersey, was published by Arcadia in February 2000. My second book, Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors, was published by Heritage Quest in June 2001. I also authored the chapter “Decoding Genetics: Your Family’s Health History” for Celebrating the Family: The Guide to Understanding Your Family History, published by Michael Friedman Publishing Group, 2002. My third book, Images of America: Kearny’s Immigrant Heritage debuted in November 2003. A new book to help Kearny's public library celebrate its 100th anniversary, The Kearny Public Library and Its Town: A Pictorial History, appeared in June 2007.

Read more about my works


What I write about

I have always loved history. All kinds of history from my hometown of Kearny, New Jersey to American history, and world history. I have a special fondness for Jewish history. Many of the things I learned in Hebrew school at Congregation B'nai Israel in Kearny still inspire me to write for either young readers, adult readers, or both.

Helping Jewish children's writers

From 2003-2011, I helped to coordinate an annual conference in New York City for writers and illustrators who focus on Jewish themes. In 2010, I led a workshop, Writing Jewish-themed Children's Books, with an awesome faculty for the Highlights Foundation. I led that workshop again in 2011, 2013, and 2014.
In 2014, my The Whole Megillah LLC company, together with the Association of Jewish Libraries, hosted the first-ever Seminar on Jewish Story at Temple Emanu-El in New York City. The response to it has propelled us to plan another seminar for 2015.

As a service to Jewish children's writers, I introduced The Whole Megillah | The Writer's Resource for Jewish-themed Children's Books in May 2010. It's become very popular! Here you'll find interviews with authors, agents, editors, and librarians as well as book reviews. I was selected to join the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee at the end of 2010 and have set up my first blog tour for the winners of this prestigious award!

The blog expanded in early 2012 to include Jewish story in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for readers of all ages.

Jewish Poland photo gallery

Many history writers know that photos can enhance their work. While traveling in Poland in 2008, I took a number of photos that I'm very proud of. They are now in my Jewish Poland photo gallery and have been featured in two New Jersey Jewish Community Center photo exhibitions. I frequently address Jewish genealogical societies and local Jewish organizations on "My Home Is Gone - Remnants of Jewish Poland."

Jewish Prague

As a recipient of a fiction scholarship, I was fortunate to attend Western Michigan University's Prague Summer Program in July 2011. I took classes in fiction and Jewish Studies. You can read my "Report from Prague" blog posts at The Whole Megillah.

The eternal student

I am a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University’s Douglass College, where I earned my B.A. in German. I hold an M.B.A. in Marketing from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. in Writing for Children & Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). I also hold an MA in History from William Paterson University, where I teach in the English and History departments. I teach English Composition and American History at Mercer County Community College, too. In April 2018, I join the second cohort of doctoral candidates for the PhD in Holocaust & Genocide Studies at Gratz College.

Selected Works

Short Story
Inspired by my 2008 trip to Poland
Appeared in April 2015 issue of Jewish Literary Journal
Originally published in October 2016 on Lilith blog.
Photo Exhibits
Thirty photos of Warsaw and Barbara's ancestral "shtetlach"
Magazine Articles
American History article that chronicles the odyssey of the ill-fated MS St. Louis, a ship of nearly 1,000 German-Jewish refugees, in 1939. Based on interviews with survivors and archival research.
Cover story for History Channel Magazine, July/August 2008
This book chronicles the development of the library as a place for knowledge, a place to grow, a place for community, and a place where time stands still. In its 100-year history, the library has contributed to making the Town of Kearny a "place where everyone knows your name."
"You've done a great job capturing the heart of many of our childhoods."--Linda Kaywork Barbieri
“It’s a great gift for any Kearny resident. The pictures are priceless!”
-Debra C.Bird
“A perfect Hanukkah gift!”
-Family Tree Magazine