Page 106 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
using” Jewish children’s books (Posner, 1986)8. Librarians need
to volunteer to arrange workshops for teachers and educators.
During this decade, we must be aware of the ramifications
of “multiculturalism” and actively voice our need for new Jewish
children’s books. We can indicate the topics and genres of books
that are lacking through conferences and letters to publishers
and writers. We should work cooperatively towards the publish­
ing and
marketing
of Jewish children’s books around the world,
for without a broader constituency, the publishing of such books
will not be viable.
Over the past fifty years, Jewish children’s books have thrived.
They have improved in literary quality and format, and have
increased in quantity. It may be true that Jews as an ethnic
type are not represented in American children’s history text­
books, and barely in American children’s literature, except for
the immigration period and the Holocaust. By the same token,
not every period of American and World Jewish history is found
in Jewish children’s literature; nor does this literature reveal
the full range of the varied types of Jewish belief. On the whole,
however, it is a body of literature to be proud of. Some of the
art and writing is outstanding. Despite the Jews being a people
under constant threat, much humor and enjoyment of life is
expressed in the literature. Were I to choose a central, unde r­
lying theme that prevails — it is the love of family, and when
the family is affected by political tragedy, social problems, illness
or death, it is constantly recalled. This is why so many of our
books, especially the picture-storybooks are nostalgic. They are
expressions of
Zakhor.
We do not want to forget our past. We
can also take pride that our children’s literature does not con­
done cruelty and violence, not even in retribution. Instead, the
values it most frequently expresses are: compassion, social ju s ­
tice, and generosity of spirit.
8. Posner, Marcia.
Jewish Children’s Books: How to Choose Them, How to Use Them.
(Hadassah, Department o f Jewish Education, 1986), 50 West 58th Street, New
York, New York 10019, $5.00. Another helpful publication is the
Selected Chil­
dren’s Judaica Collection,
an annotated bibliography o f 800 titles in twelve cat­
egories; available from the Jewish Book Council, $6.95.