Page 212 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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A M E R I C A N J E W I S H J U V E N I L E
L I T E R A T U R E D U R I N G T H E
P A S T T W E N T Y - F I V E Y E A R S
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outline some of the influences affecting
American Jewish juvenile literature during the past 25
years. It will single out some titles year by year that seem in one
way or another to break the mold—to present a new outlook or
a fresh approach. Finally, it will summarize achievements and
indicate areas where advances still need to be made.
Like the Pilgrims and the Puritans, the Jews brought their
ideals, dreams and traditions with them to the new world. Not
the least among these was the determination to build a better
world for their children. The first consideration, o f course, was
that of physical survival. But books and learning were practically
a simultaneous need along with food and shelter. Th e importance
of books was an accepted fact, but that they had to be attractive
and interesting to the child was not always appreciated. Thus
the first books for children were often drab, dull and practical
both in format and in the information they offered.
Improving Jewish Juvenile Books
Among the influences at work to improve the lot of Jewish
juvenile literature were the publishers, the new printing methods,
the libraries, the critics and the Jewish Book Council of America.
History and circumstances have worked in favor of the child.
Since books are basic tools of learning, it was the educators, spe-
cifically the people responsible for the religious education of
children, who first bestirred themselves on behalf of children’s
literature. Some 40 years ago the Joint Commission on Jewish
Education of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the
Un ion of American Hebrew Congregations under the leadership
of Dr. Emanuel Gamoran, and later the United Synagogue Com-
mission on Jewish Education, feeling the lack of adequate books
for their needs began to publish books to meet these needs. It
was the first effort to publish books for Jewish children by people