Page 120 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

Basic HTML Version

a n n y
o l d s t e i n
HILDREN’S book publishing is a world within a world.
Few publishing houses confine themselves to the issuing of
juvenile books alone. The larger houses have for well over a
generation trained personnel and special editors for these books.
Unfortunately, no Jewish undertaking of this character has yet
been developed. I t is, therefore, doubly important that trust-
worthy guide-posts for Jewish juveniles be established, whose
standards parents and educators can accept with confidence.
What is the aim of Jewish juvenile literature and with what
success does it fulfill its purpose? The aim appears to be to supply
the Jewish child with a knowledge of the historic, religious, social,
and economic background of his people, their ideals and ethical
standards, which will guide him through childhood and adult life.
This aim the Jewish juvenile book has achieved in books which
are increasingly well written and attractively produced. Unfor-
tunately, these books repeat the same subject matter over and
over again, without freshness or new emphasis: biblical events,
history, biographies of noted Jews, stories of holiday fun. These
books are quite good but limited in appeal. This field needs not
the conventional patterns but more fiction about ordinary Jewish
children and family life. This conclusion is based on library ex-
perience with what the children themselves want. These children
tend to disregard non-fiction or to dismiss it with the comment
“We already had that in Hebrew School.” They do specifically
ask for stories. Books which have the merit of being read and
liked by non-Jewish children as well should not be overlooked.
Jewish juvenile books seem too often to have a specific religious
content and seldom have as wide an appeal as stories of well-
integrated groups in American life.
On the whole, the “New Look” in Jewish juveniles is most
encouraging. Here and there, agreeable characters emerge, and
authors train for the task of writing for young adults.
Books have their destinies and Jewish parents and educators
have their responsibilities to make available for Jewish youth
good books that will yield the reader pleasure, information and a