Page 145 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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marginally Jewish families of the availability of children’s literature
with Jewish content. Many assimilated Jews are still unaware of it
and cannot identify trade books with Jewish content, except for
Jewish holiday books. Even worse, many educators and teachers in
Jewish day and supplementary schools are not familiar with the
books, especially those published by trade publishers. Not only can
they not identify appropriate titles, they do not know how to inte­
grate the stories into the curriculum. Publishers need to call upon
the talents of librarians to create free handbooks that suggest ways
of “choosing and 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 newJewish chil­
dren’s books. We can indicate the topics and genres of books that
are lacking through conferences and letters to publishers and writ­
ers. We should work cooperatively toward the publishing and
of Jewish children’s books around the world, for without a
broader constituency, the publishing of such books will not be vi­
Over the past fifty years, Jewish children’s books have thrived.
They have improved in literary quality and format and have in­
creased in quantity. It may be true that Jews as an ethnic type are
not represented in American children’s history textbooks, and
barely in American children’s literature, except for the immigra­
tion period and the Holocaust. By the same token, not every period
ofAmerican and World Jewish history is found in Jewish children’s
literature; nor does this literature reveal the full range of the varied
types ofJewish belief. On the whole, however, it is a body of liter­
ature ofwhich to be proud. Some of the art and writing is outstand­
ing. Despite the Jews being a people under constant threat, much
Fifty Years ofJewish Children’s Books
8. Marcia Posner.
Jewish Children’s Books: How to Choose Them, How to Use
(Haddasah, Department of Jewish Education, 1986), 50 West 58 th Street,
New York, New York 10019, $5.00. Another helpful publication is the
Children’sJudaica Collection,
an annotated bibliography of 800 tides in twelve cat­
egories [out o f print].