Page 100 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
88
the retelling of Bible tales. In the more modern retellings the
dull, drab, and didactic tones of the past have been eliminated
and there has been an improvement in quality and quantity of
stories selected. However, there is still a need for additional applied
imagination on the part of compilers and recountors of Bible stories
for children. It is a curious paradox that although there are a
number of Bible picture books, there is not as yet a single one of
exceptional pictorial and textual merit, designed and executed
especially for the Jewish child.
The six-to-eight-year-old period is a crucial one in any child’s
reading life. I t is during these years that reading habits and
tastes are formed. Everything he reads is touched with magic
and the wonder of experience. As the child grows older he soon
calls for picture books with large illustrations, especially those
done in warm color rather than photographic reproductions or
blacks and whites. So, at this age a child, already a bit more
articulate, observes, lip-reads, memorizes, and is capable of form-
ing and retaining impressions. He prefers picture books that tell
a story, so that he can follow the pages of exciting illustrations,
and concoct variations of the story to suit his fancy. He picks
out letters, “big-fat letters,” for his awakening senses which yield
him individualistic pleasure. We have, therefore, included in this
listing a group under the caption, “Nursery Aids— Picture books—
Easy books.” These books are intended to serve the Jewish child
from the pre-school through the third grade or to eight years of
age.
At eight years most children are able to read by themselves.
For this group, books must lend themselves to either reading aloud
or for the child’s own browsing. Steeped by׳ now in the sense of
Biblical awe derived from the stories of the Creation, new vistas
open into the realms of fantasy through fairy tales and legends
associated with these backgrounds. The child approaching adoles-
cence, with his quickened senses and perceptions, with a worldly
awareness and all that it implies, naturally needs a wider “Open
Sesame” to the treasure houses of Jewish literature. A historic
note with perhaps a glimpse of Palestine is desirable for background
and knowledge and confidence.
Children in the intermediate bracket cover perhaps the age
period from 8 to 10 through 12. The youngster at this age develops
a taste for adventure and wishes to lose himself completely in a
rousing good tale. With these children it is easy to progress from
history to books with religious connotations supplying simple in-
troductions to the holidays and customs of the Jew. The modern
teen-age child with his exhilarated mental capacities, keenly per-
fected reading abilities is far more developed and mature than the