by Laurel Snyder
With the Jewish High Holidays behind us, and Jewish Book Month looming, it feels natural to talk about Jewish books. Of course, being the Mixed Up Files, we’re discussing (duh) the Jewish middle grade, specifically. To that end, we’ve invited our wonderful friend Heidi Estrin to join us, for an illuminating chat about Jewish books for kids!
Heidi hosts The Book of Life, a monthly podcast on Jewish books, music, film, and web. She is Vice-President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, and past chair of AJL’s Sydney Taylor Book Award committee. She’s also the Library Director & Computer Specialist at Feldman Children’s Library, Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida. But most of all, she’s a friend to kids (of all ages)who love books!
Thanks so much for joining us today at the MIXED UP FILES blog, Heidi. We’re glad to have you here.
Thanks, Laurel, I am thrilled to be here!
A lot of people, when they think about Jewish middle grade, really fall back on All of a Kind family and Anne Frank, and then get stuck. So we were hoping you could share your thoughts with us on Jewish characters or themes in other books, books we maybe haven’t read, or haven’t thought of as Jewish.
Let me first give All-of-a-Kind Family its due, since the series was actually pretty important in the history of Jewish kidlit as a genre. It was the first (non-Biblical) story with Jewish characters that became popular with readers from all different backgrounds. It kind of set the tone for our current embrace of multicultural literature! That’s why the Association of Jewish Libraries calls its annual Jewish children’s literature award the Sydney Taylor Book Awards, in memory of the author of All-of-a-Kind Family. Read the rest of this entry »