On behalf of PJ Library, a program dedicated to giving the gift of quality Jewish children’s literature to families across North America and doing so at a rate of 95,000 books each month, I would like to respond to Deborah Kolben’s Jan. 31 column. “Where Have All the Good Jewish Books for Kids Gone?”
We who love children’s literature mourn the deaths of both Russell Hoban and Simms Taback. While their passings are sad, the world need not fear for children’s literature. To be involved with Jewish books today is to know that many fine authors and illustrators are at work writing compelling, contemporary, relevant stories that engage, charm, and make Jewish connections for our children. One only has to seek out PJ Library to know that fabulous books are being published more often and in greater quantities. Some favorites are: “Bagels from Benny” by Aubrey Davis, “How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box” by Linda Heller, “Picnic at Camp Shalom” by Jacqueline Jules, “The Only One Club” by Jane Naliboff, “A Sweet Passover” by Leslea Newman, “The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey” by Steve Sheinkin, and “A Song for My Sister” by Lesley Simpson.
We want and need many more stories that break the mold and speak to today’s Jewish families. Recently, Marshall Cavendish, a New York mainstream publisher, launched a new imprint called Shofar Books, dedicated to Jewish children’s literature. While it takes time to produce a greater supply, the movement is steady and strong. And readers agree. Every day, we hear from families who write about magical moments at bedtime when parents and children snuggle together around beautiful Jewish stories that spark meaningful conversations.
Marcie Greenfield Simons
PJ Library North America
New York, N.Y.