Page 213 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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— A
mer ican
ew ish
uven ile
trying to understand the nature of children. Today these organi-
zations produce some of the most stimulating and challenging
texts and supplementary materials available to children; they are
equal to, and often surpass in quality and beauty, books pro-
duced by any publisher, Jewish, organizational, or non-Jewish.
Later commerical Jewish publishers, appreciating the impor-
tance of Jewish books for children, established departments or
engaged editors whose function it was to work in this area. In
some instances the resultant output is still inexpert and uneven,
but in other instances good books have been published that other-
wise might never have seen the light of day.
More recently the general publishers have outdone the Jewish
publishers; for currently there is scarcely a major publisher that
does not each year issue one or two titles of Jewish content or
interest on the juvenile level.
Among the main factors operating in the general field of chil-
dren’s literature which have lent impetus to the upgrading of
Jewish juvenile literature is the development of newer and less
expensive methods of reproducing the printed page. This, how-
ever, has been a mixed blessing, rendering it easier to print bad
books as well as the better ones. The greatest good can be meas-
ured in terms o f attractiveness, for the new processes made pos-
sible the use of a variety of type and illustrations that add color,
depth and interest to a book.
The increase of children’s rooms in public libraries and the
development of school libraries also influenced the Jewish ch ild’s
book world. Some Jewish Community Centers and Congregations
were quick to realize that libraries in their institutions could
stimulate the use of Jewish books. A few of these institutions
have developed fine libraries under the guidance of professional
librarians; others have made good progress with dedicated paid
or even volunteer non-professional workers. These librarians have
encouraged classes and clubs to make use of Jewish books, and
have devised projects, contests and activities to achieve this ob-
jective. Most important in terms of this survey is that these
librarians are demanding more suitable books for their patrons.
As their numbers are augmented their voices, hopefully, w ill be
more effective. T h e Jewish Book Council has played an impor-
tant role in the development of these libraries. By setting stand-
ards and by certifying libraries that meet these standards they are
helping to professionalize a service too often treated as a stepchild.
T he Jewish librarians are literally pu lling themselves up by
their own bootstraps. As they progress so will be the fate o f the
books they ask for and disseminate.
T he Jewish Book Council of America, an affiliate of the Na-
tional Jewish Welfare Board, helps to promote the writing and