Monday, February 23, 2009

Laurel Snyder and Kosher Pigs

Laurel Snyder published a great article in Nextbook called Where the Wild Things Aren't, about the state of Jewish characters and themes in picture books. If you're interested, it's pretty sad.
Most books for young Jewish readers are instructional. They have titles like, Purim Goodies or It’s Israel’s Birthday! and they’re intended to educate kids about specific customs, traditions, events, and places.

Which is fine, if you’re looking for instruction (though most kids aren’t, if you ask me).
I've talked on Confessions of a Bibliovore about my own love for Catholic-themed books, Although it's a different religion, it suffers from the same invisibility. In fact, when it comes to religion, the default setting at all age levels seems to be something I wouldn't call agnostic or atheistic, but merely, "none of the reader's business." What does religion have to do with everyday life?

For many, many kids, a lot. It's for this reason that mention of any religious themes or traditions in a book tends to make my ears perk up.

Laurel makes a good point that picture books especially have a hard time navigating the line between didacticism and invisibility. She's working on changing that, or at least nudging it, with the publication of Baxter the Kosher Pig. Laurel, that's so on my list.

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