Page 101 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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parent of today was at that age and he therefore demands a liter
ature on his level. He seeks a mirrored image of himself and his
ideals in the lives of others. He reads fluently and is beginning
to grope in his reading for a clarification of his various longings
and identities. In this groping the question of the child’s relation-
ship to his own group life, to other races and lands, and an un-
conscious awareness of indigenous roots is raised. The quickening
of the pulses and the sense of desire to know more about the
individual urges him to ask, “Who is who, and What has he done,
and How can I pattern myself accordingly as a useful social human
being, preferably with a big T ? ” The ego is being born. Actual
patterns of heroes and heroines are sought to bolster the spirit.
The legendary figures, the tales of valor shrouded in mystery, dis-
solve into the past; the desire for truth and the factual asserts
itself. For children already on the threshold of adolescence, read-
ing about those who have actually accomplished things may whet
their reading appetite and provide them with further inspiration.
Glimpses into the distant past with a few samples of song and
poetry lighten the literary fare and prove to the child that Israel
has also produced its great singers, poets and men of letters.
The child on the threshold of adulthood may be trusted to pick,
choose and to relax with just a good story, a rousing book of
fiction. He may find here and there a glimpse of the many facets
of Jewish life as detailed and interpreted by countless writers here
and abroad. Fiction is no longer tossed aside because of its light-
ness. Present-day fiction does more than just tell a tale. I t pre-
sents a period, interprets, philosophizes, characterizes and draws
parallels, which make fiction reading today not only recreational
but thought provoking as well.
The general pattern of the Anglo-Jewish juvenile book up to
about 1930 was in the main dull, drab, prosaic, and unappealing.
About 1935 the Jewish juvenile commenced to take on a more
modern and artistic note. The former style and content matter
of writers who had never been exposed to an American childhood
were outmoded. New authors familiar with the problems, tastes
and inclinations of their potential readers gradually appeared in
print. Parents became more conscious and discriminating. With
it all, there is still a great need for more imaginative literature for
the young — literature that will complement the upward striving
of youth and yield the American Jewish child a greater sense of
completeness. Adult books of versatility of subject material, locale,