WELCOME TO THE BOOK OF LIFE:
A Podcast About Jewish Kidlit (Mostly)

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Thursday, April 02, 2020

Welcoming Elijah (Books in the Time of Coronavirus)

In response to the pandemic, The Book of Life is hosting a special series, Books in the Time of Coronavirus. Authors or illustrators of new Jewish books, whose promotional events have been cancelled due to quarantine, are invited to promote their books on the podcast.

Lesléa Newman shares her picture book Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail from Charlesbridge. 

And a big shout-out to Tziporah Cohen for becoming a monthly Book of Life supporter on Patreon.com/BookofLife. Thanks, Tzippy!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST



CREDITS:
Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 


Monday, March 30, 2020

Worse and Worse on Noah's Ark (Books in the Time of Coronavirus)

In response to the pandemic, The Book of Life is hosting a special series, Books in the Time of Coronavirus. Authors or illustrators of new Jewish books, whose promotional events have been cancelled due to quarantine, are invited to promote their books on the podcast.

Leslie Kimmelman shares her picture book Worse and Worse on Noah's Ark from Apples & Honey Press.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST



CREDITS:


Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 



 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

No Entry (Books in the Time of Coronavirus)

In response to the pandemic, The Book of Life is hosting a special series, Books in the Time of Coronavirus. Authors or illustrators of new Jewish books, whose promotional events have been cancelled due to quarantine, are invited to promote their books on the podcast.

The first episode in this special series features Gila Green, author of No Entry, a novel for youth about elephant poaching in South Africa, starring a Jewish eco-heroine.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST


CREDITS:

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 




Sunday, March 22, 2020

Family Meeting

Today my husband Matthew joins me to help me run a Book of Life "Family Meeting." We've got a lot on the agenda. Listen for all the details and click the links below to get more information.
  1. Books in the Time of Coronavirus
  2. Love Your Neighbor List #6: Passover
  3. Stand Up
  4. Transcripts - click on the transcript link for each episode
  5. Support
  6. Feedback
  7. Jewish Kidlit Mavens
  8. The Sydney Taylor Shmooze
  9. The Book of Life Trailer
We will soon be bringing you recordings from authors whose spring book tours have been cancelled, as part of the Books in the Time of Coronavirus series, but we'll also be publishing some of our regular in-depth interviews, recorded before the virus crisis. Watch for episodes about A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi & Laura Shovan, and A Ceiling Made of Eggshells by Gail Carson Levine.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST



CREDITS:

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 




Friday, March 20, 2020

PragmaticMom Blog Recommends Jewish Books

Mia Wenjen is the co-founder of Multicultural Children's Book Day, the blogger at Pragmatic Mom, and the author of the picture book Sumo Joe and the resource guide Best #OwnVoices Children's Books. When I learned about her #OwnVoices guide, I was excited to see whether Jewish books were included. I was glad to find that there were Jewish titles among her recommendations, but disappointed that they represented only the Holocaust experience. Luckily, Mia was open to further recommendations. She expressed some frustration in identifying the Jewish background of authors to determine whether their books qualified as #OwnVoices, and was glad of assistance.

I sent Mia a list of Jewish #OwnVoices titles that I thought she might like, and the result is this lovely post in which she reviews the books in her own voice! I'm so pleased that I was able to help Mia bring some worthy Jewish titles to a wider audience.


 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

BOOKS IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

If you have written or illustrated a new Jewish book, I invite you to take part in The Book of Life's COVID-19 response, Books in the Time of Coronavirus.
I know the coronavirus closures are affecting many book launches with cancelled tours, school visits, book birthdays, etc. If you are an author or illustrator in that situation, I invite you to virtually promote your book on The Book of Life Podcast. Here's how: I will supply a few questions for you to answer. You record yourself and send me the audio file. 

During this crazy pandemic, I'm glad to find a way to do something constructive. Thanks for participating in this podcasting project! Please read all instructions below and let me know if you have any questions. Thanks! - Heidi

FAQ
  • This project is meant to help those whose promotional events got cancelled due to coronavirus shutdowns. For now, I'm looking for those who were planning to promote new books at events March-May. If the shutdowns continue beyond that, I'll extend the project.
  • Jewish books for kids or adults are welcome.
  • Please aim for a recording of  less than 15 minutes.
  • Be aware that I may edit your recording for clarity or length.
  • If possible, please send me your recording by March 31, 2020. If that's impossible, send it as soon as you can after that. 
  • If you are able to send me a review copy of the book, I would appreciate it, but you can still participate even if that's not possible. If you CAN send me a book, please write to me at bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com and I'll give you my address. I understand that there might be a delay in sending review copies and that's fine.

TECHNICAL DETAILS
The best way to get a recording to me is to use Otter Voice Meeting Notes  https://otter.ai/ , which is a free recording and transcription service. You can use it on your computer (if your computer has a microphone) or download the app and record on your phone. Once you've made a recording, just click the Share button near the top (looks like a person with a +) and type in Heidi Rabinowitz.
If you prefer another recording method, that's ok. Just send me the Mp3 file by email or share with me via Google Drive or Dropbox.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Note: You do not need to read the questions aloud on the recording. Instead you can incorporate the questions into your answers as in the examples below.

1. Please introduce yourself: give your name, the title and publisher of your book, and tell us when your book is coming out. You can also tell a little about yourself, such as where you live, and what book promotion events you had to cancel because of coronavirus.
EXAMPLE "Hi, this is Jane Doe, author of The Best Book Ever published in March 2020 by SuperDuper Press. I'm from Anatevka. I was going to promote my book at..."

2. Give a brief description of your book. What is it about? What age readers is it meant for?
EXAMPLE "The Best Book Ever is a picture book for elementary school readers. It's about..."

3. Tell us what inspired you to write this book.
EXAMPLE "I was inspired to write this book when I learned about..."

4. Was there anything you were saving to share on your cancelled book tour/school visit/other event, like a funny story, or a prop? A costume or your lucky outfit? Tell us about what we are missing, or tell us what you would have said at the event.
EXAMPLE "On my book tour, I was planning to tell audiences about..."

5. Where can people get your book? Keep in mind that right now e-books are the healthiest option, and online ordering is the best option after that. Personally, I like to support independent bookstores by suggesting that people order from IndieBound.org or Bookshop.org (and I try to avoid Amazon: here's why). If you agree, you can mention IndieBound.org, Bookshop.org, or independent bookstores in your answer.
EXAMPLE "People can get my book at ..."

6. You can also tell people where to find more info about you.
EXAMPLE  "You can find me online at my website at www...."
7. Is there anything else you'd like to say?
EXAMPLE "I also want to mention..."

Bonus Question: If you've listened to The Book of Life, you know I have a Tikkun Olam segment where I invite guests to share their suggestions for actions listeners can take to heal the world, big or small. Please feel free to share a Tikkun Olam suggestion.
EXAMPLE "I'd like to invite everyone listening to help heal the world with this Tikkun Olam action. I think we should all..." 

You can give closure to the recording by saying thanks, wishing people well, etc.
EXAMPLE "Thanks for having me on the show. I hope everyone stays healthy and reads lots of good books."

Let me know if you have any questions at bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com.




Sunday, March 15, 2020

Jewish Book Carnival: March 2020


The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly roundup of Jewish literary links from across the blogosphere. Here at The Book of Life, I am pleased to present the March 2020 Jewish Book Carnival!

The Association of Jewish Libraries invites Jewish and non-Jewish bloggers to participate in a new anti-bias project, Through the Window: A Diversity Exchange.

At Life Is Like a Library, Chava Pinchuck reviews the new English translation of Kalman Samuels' book, Dreams Never Dreamed.

Howard Lovy interviewed author Roberta Kwall in Publishers Weekly about her book Remix Judaism.

Shira Yael Klein reviewed the novel Don't Tell Ima on The Rachack Review.

On her My Machberet blog, Erika Dreifus routinely compiles news of Jewish literary interest. Here's one recent post.

On her blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, Deborah interviewed author Anita Abriel about her new historical novel, The Light After the War.

Ever thought about creating a space for writers where you live? Read Gila Green's interview with Nadia Jacobson to find out how one writer created community.

Here's an interview with debut author Jennifer Voigt Kaplan about her book, Crushing the Red Flowers, at The Whole Megillah.

At Jewish Books for Kids, interview with author Joy Nelkin Wieder about her adorable new picture book, The Passover Mouse.

In time for the holiday, Yaakov Wasserman explores 'what does Passover mean to us?' while reviewing As If We Were There: Readings for a Transformative Passover Experience.

The Sydney Taylor Shmooze, a new mock award blog, shares the experience of seeing the Sydney Taylor Book Awards presented live at the American Library Association midwinter meeting.

And here at The Book of Life, I interviewed author Jeff Gottesfeld about his book No Steps Behind: Beate Sirota Gordon's Battle for Women's Rights in Japan (and yes, it is a Jewish book).




Monday, February 24, 2020

No Steps Behind

"No Steps Behind [by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Shiella Witanto] is the unlikely story of Beate Sirota Gordon, just a girl when her Russian-Austrian-Jewish family found refuge in 1930s Japan. Beate became fluent in Japanese, loved the nation’s culture and people, but hated its treatment of women and proverbs like “Women walk three steps behind.” After World War II, putting her language and cultural skills to use, she returned to Japan and fought for equal rights for women to be enshrined in the post-war Japanese post-war constitution. Though she won that battle, and remains a Japanese national hero, she is little known outside that country." -- Creston Books
I spoke with author Jeff Gottesfeld about Beate Sirota Gordon, and about the adventure of writing this picture book biography in order to bring her story to an English-speaking audience.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST



Jeff Gottesfeld and Nicole Gordon (Beate's daugter)
hold a picture of Beate Sirota Gordon

CREDITS:

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 




Sunday, February 02, 2020

2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award BLOG TOUR


[Edited, post Blog Tour, to include the links to the interviews.]

I am very pleased that the Blog Tour tradition continues at the Association of Jewish Libraries! The 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour includes interviews with the winning authors and illustrators, appearing on a variety of high profile kidlit blogs and podcasts. 

The benefit of a Blog Tour is that the various interviewers bring differing perspectives to their conversations, and different audiences of readers learn about the Sydney Taylor Book Awards. The Blog Tour adds spice and extends the reach of the awards beyond what AJL could do alone.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE


SUNDAY FEBRUARY 9, 2020
Sue Macy and Stacy Innerst, author and illustrator of The Book Rescuer
Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Picture Book Category
at 100 Scope Notes at School Library Journal
R.J. Palacio, author of White Bird
Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Middle Grade Category
at The Paper Brigade Daily at The Jewish Book Council
MONDAY FEBRUARY 10, 2020
Rachel DeWoskin, author of Someday We Will Fly
Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Young Adult Category at Out of the Box at The Horn Book
Debbie Levy and Sonja Wimmer, author and illustrator of The Key from Spain
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Picture Book Category at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 11, 2020
Lesléa Newman and Amy June Bates, author and illustrator of Gittel's Journey
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Picture Book Categoryat Mr. Schu Reads
All Authors and Illustrators on The Children's Book Podcast
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 12, 2020
Hannah Moskowitz, author of Sick Kids in Love
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Young Adult Categoryat Good Reads with Ronna
Andrew Maraniss, author of Games of Deception
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Middle Grade Categoryat A Fuse #8 Production at School Library Journal
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 13, 2020
Sofiya Pasternack, author of Anya and the Dragon
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Middle Grade Categoryat From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
Victoria Ortiz, author of Dissenter on the Bench
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Young Adult Categoryat Jewish Books for Kids
Blog Tour Wrap-Up at The Whole Megillah

Friday, January 31, 2020

#ReadYourWorld Jewish Diversity


Today I'm celebrating Multicultural Children's Book Day by reminding you that JEWISH BOOKS ARE DIVERSE BOOKS in more than one sense. On the one hand, the Jewish community must be fully welcomed under the Diversity umbrella within the kidlit world, and we've made strides towards that in recent days. On the other hand, diversity within the Jewish community needs to be celebrated in the literature, and progress is being achieved in this area also.

While much Jewish children's literature is still "Ashkenormative," representing the white, European Jewish experience, publishing is beginning to recognize and represent other ways of being Jewish. The photo above represents Jews of color, differently abled Jews, adopted Jews, and Jewish-Gentile cooperation, and this is just the handful of books I was able to grab quickly from my shelf rather than a curated selection. Finding a variety of Jewish representation is getting easier all the time!

Back in June 2017, I blogged about Diverse Jewish Books and compiled a long list of examples. To make it easier to continue updating the list, I've converted the blog post into a permanent  page at The Book of Life. You can find it by navigating to the "Bibliographies from The Book of Life Blog" link under BOOKS on the right hand side of my website, or find it at DIVERSE JEWISH BOOKS. Titles available through IndieBound include affiliate links; your purchases help The Book of Life Podcast.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. For the next month, you can visit the MCBD website to add relevant links to their Big Giant Linky. Please go share your diverse Jewish books! #ReadYourWorld


Monday, January 27, 2020

The 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Awards, Revealed!

Rebecca Levitan with the 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award gold medalists
Rebecca Levitan is the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries. She joined us to discuss the 2020 winners of the award, which annually recognizes the best Jewish literature for children and teens.

This is the second year that the Sydney Taylor Book Awards will be announced at the ALA Youth Media Awards press conference, being held this year in Philadelphia, PA during the ALA Midwinter Meeting on January 27, 2020 at 8am ET. For the first time, the Sydney Taylor Honor Books are also included in the announcement. The Association of Jewish Libraries is an ALA Affiliate. Watch a live webcast of the press conference.

Here's the official 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award press release and the full list of winners, honors, and notable books.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour will take place February 9-13, 2020. Details will appear soon at JewishLibraries.org.

AJL's Love Your Neighbor booklist series was mentioned during the interview.

The Book of Life's new STAND UP resource for fighting antisemitism was also mentioned.

Read Sydney Taylor Book Award committee member Sylvie Shaffer's poem, "How to Read for the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee... A Self Care Poem?"

For a longer discussion of the issue touched upon in this episode, that of the balance between the Holocaust and other topics within Jewish children's literature, see this article from Tablet Magazine.

The National Jewish Book Award winners from the Jewish Book Council have also been announced! Their winners included Sydney Taylor Honor Book Gittel's Journey and Sydney Taylor Book Award winner Someday We Will Fly.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST



CREDITS:

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 




Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How to Fight Antisemitism


In November 2018 I posted about the Love Your Neighbor series of book lists that I helped create for the Association of Jewish Libraries, in response to the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in October of that year. You can read about the project in Tablet Magazine, here.

With the upsurge of antisemitic hate crimes that took place during Hanukkah 2019, we decided it was time to add to the Love Your Neighbor series. The series now includes five lists. The newest addition focuses on Orthodox Jews, because they were a target for so much of the recent hate.

I am also very happy to share The Book of Life's new resource page, Stand Up. This is a growing collection of suggestions for Jews and allies, for standing up to antisemitism. One of the suggestions is sharing the Love Your Neighbor series with readers of ALL backgrounds.

The Love Your Neighbor series includes:
Each title on the lists is linked to an online bookseller. You can also find them in public and synagogue libraries, and at Judaica shops and bookstores.

Use these titles for library and bookstore storytimes and displays, for classroom reading, for book club selections, for diversity projects, and for blog post topics. Use them anywhere and everywhere, to hold up mirrors and open windows to the Jewish experience!


Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Bisl Yiddish: Bikher fur Kinder



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 Click on the images to buy these books from independent bookstores.
The Book of Life is an IndieBound Affiliate.


Yiddish is really popular right now. From the annual Yidstock festival each summer to the off-Broadway Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof, the mameloshn seems to be everywhere. That's even true in children's publishing. Today I have a joint interview with three authors who've created kidlit related to Yiddish language or culture. Sue Macy is the author of the picture book biography, The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come, about Aaron Lansky who founded the Yiddish Book Center. Debby Levy, who appeared on The Book of Life in November 2016 to talk about her RBG biography I Dissent, is back with her picture book Yiddish Saves the Day. And Valerie Estelle Frankel has written a humorous chapter book called Chelm for the Holidays. These three shayne meydelekh joined me to talk about the resurgence of Yiddish, after an introductory clip of "We're Gonna Learn Some Yiddish" written and performed by Rebecca Schoffer, and inspired by the picture book Goodnight Bubbala by Sheryl Haft.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST



Related books, crowdsourced on the Jewish Kidlit Mavens Facebook group:

The Sages of Chelm and the Moon by Shlomo Abas
Chanukah in Chelm by David Adler
Malke's Secret Recipe by David Adler
Shmutzy Girl, Noshy Boy, Shluffy Girl, Kvetchy Boy and Klutzy Boy by Anne-Marie Asner 
The Brothers Schlemiel by Mark Binder
A Hanukkah Present by Mark Binder
The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch by Carol Chapman 
Just Stay Put by Gary Clement
The Yiddish Fish by Santiago Cohen
Kishke for Koppel by Aubrey Davis
A Hat for Mrs Goldman by Michelle J Edwards
Oy Feh So by Cary Fagan
Stone Soup with Matzoh Balls by Linda Glaser
Way Too Many Latkes by Linda Glaser
The Silly World of Chelm by Zalman Goldstein
Oy Vey! Life in a Shoe by Bonnie Meltzer Grubman
Goodnight Bubbala by Sheryl Haft
Five Little Gefiltes by Dave Horowitz
Once Upon a Shabbos by Jacqueline Jules
The Jar of Fools by Eric Kimmel
Right Side Up: Adventures in Chelm by Eric Kimmel
The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman
Estie the Mensch by Jane Kohuth
A Confused Hanukkah by Jon Koons
Shlomo Travels to Warsaw by David Kudler
The Tushy Book by Fran Manushkin
Good Night Wind by Linda Marshall
Too Young for Yiddish by Richard Michelson
A Kiss on the Keppie by Lesléa Newman
Shlemiel Crooks by Anna Olswanger
Beautiful Yetta: the Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater
Beautiful Yetta's Hanukkah Kitten by Daniel Pinkwater
The Angel's Mistake by Francine Prose
The Demons' Mistake by Francine Prose
The Schmutzy Family by Madelyn Rosenberg
The Wise Folk of Chelm by Seymour Rossel
Strudel Strudel Strudel by Steve Sanfield
The Wise Men of Helm and Their Merry Tales by Solomon Simon
The Fools of Chelm and Their History by Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Parakeet Named Dreidel by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Zlateh the Goat by Isaac Bashevis Singer
My Yiddish Vacation by Ione Skye
Nosh Schlep Schluff: BabYiddish by Laurel Snyder
Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost by Ann Stampler
In the Land of Happy Tears: Yiddish Tales for Modern Times edited by David Stromberg
Can Hens Give Milk? by Joan Betty Stuchner
The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band by Joan Betty Stuchner
My First Yiddish Word Book by Joni Sussman
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
Kibitzers and Fools by Simms Taback
Raisins and Almonds by Susan Tarcov
Rachel Captures the Moon by Richard Ungar
Rachel's Gift by Richard Ungar
Rachel's Library by Richard Ungar

NOTE: The Book of Life is an IndieBound Affiliate. Many of these links lead to IndieBound, where you can purchase the books from independent bookstores.

CREDITS:

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. We'd also appreciate it if you'd leave us a rating or review on iTunes or the podcast app of your choice.







Monday, January 06, 2020

How to read for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee...a Self Care poem?

A guest post by Sylvie Shaffer


Just before Chanukah, I wrote this poem as response to the Nessah Synagogue desecration. At the time, I was finishing my second year of reading for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, which I have been so incredibly honored to do. The award has been given annually since 1968 by the Association of Jewish Libraries to the best books featuring Jewish content published for children and young adults.

While I have enjoyed reading and critically considering some wonderful books with joyful expressions of Jewish life, most of my committee reading has centered the Holocaust, and to be completely honest, it's been brutal reading these stories of Jewish victimhood. Especially since over the course of the last 24 or so months of reading every eligible book published, antisemitism and violence against Jews has risen dramatically.

Setting aside the hard numbers - for example, "at least 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets were shared or re-shared on Twitter over a 12-month period" in 2018 - consider that during the same period in which I read a stack of Holocaust books taller than I am (granted, I am only five feet tall, but still) the following things happened:
  • Months of bomb threats to Jewish schools, Jewish Community Centers, and Synagogues
  • Deadly Synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway
  • Swastikas spray-painted in big cities and small towns and on college campuses including my dear alma matter Smith College
  • A Kosher supermarket shooting
And just in the last week alone, each day of Chanukah saw horrible acts of violence against Jews. Never again is now. This has to stop. Please, whether you're Jewish or not, a Kidlit pal or not, please raise your voice, raise awareness, acknowledge that this - acts of violence against Jews - is happening...again.

~ Sylvie Shaffer, December 30, 2019

How to read for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee...a Self Care poem?

As books arrive, sort them into Picturebooks, MG, and YA. Diligently update your spreadsheets noting “books received”...try to stagger your reading so you read non-Holocaust books in between the Holocaust books. At some point, late in the year, accept that you will run out of non-Holocaust books to read as spacers. Es faran nisht genug bikher. There are not enough books. And yet there are too many.

When all you’ve got left is a stack of Nazi-lit, it’s time to beef up the self care. Make deals with yourself about pages read before you can take the dog for her walk. Drink hot chocolate while you read. Bake something, so the house smells warm and sweet.

Take the covers off the books so you don’t have to see the swastikas, barbed wire, yellow stars that adorn the dust jackets. Read in the bathtub with soft music playing.

Take a break, take a walk. Put on your coat. Think about how it doesn’t have coins or jewels sewn into the lining. Wonder if it should. Say hi to your neighbors when you pass them. Would they take you in, if it came to that? Kiss the mezuzah on the way back into the house.

Check Twitter. Look at photos of the Nessah Synogogue vandalism with disbelief. Feel gratitude your Zeydie who was forced into the Bialystok ghetto, a firsthand witness to the desecration of the famous Great Synagogue in 1941, who survived multiple concentration camps, is not alive to see this. The images of broken glass and vandalized Torahs are dizzying, nauseating.

Read on the sofa with one hand scritching your dog’s soft head. She understands you’re reading horrifying stories you already know, were born knowing. Remember your Oma screaming in German in her sleep, every Shabbat sleepover of your youth. Remember, when you read descriptions of concentration camp bunks, how your Bubbie commented at your sister’s school production of Oliver- “that’s how we slept in the camps.” Remember. Never forget. As if you could.

Update your committee spreadsheets.



Saturday, January 04, 2020

Top Posts of 2019



I was on vacation as 2019 came to a close, so I'm a little late with this year-in-review post, but I hope you will still find it interesting. If you missed any of these posts, you might want to go back and check them out. Your fellow fans would recommend them!

The most popular Book of Life posts of 2019 were (in increasing order of popularity):

  1. Sister Religion/Sister Kidlit, August 
  2. Blog Tour 10th Anniversary, February
  3. A Field Guide to Jewish Kidlit, December
  4. Diversity Needs Jewish Books, October
  5. Takeaways from "Beyond the Holocaust & Holidays," March
  6. The 2019 Sydney Taylor Book & Manuscript Award Winners, January
  7. Beyond the Holocaust & Holidays: A Writing Symposium, January

The Book of Life has a huge back catalog - after all, I've been podcasting since 2005! Please enjoy these 2019 highlights (the other posts from 2019 were pretty good too!). Happy reading and happy listening!


Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Statement from the Association of Jewish Libraries Regarding Recent Antisemitic Acts

Reprinted from the Association of Jewish Libraries website, posted 12/31/19:


The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is horrified by the recent spate of antisemitic attacks, especially those that took place during the holiday of Hanukkah. The shooting at a kosher market in New Jersey and the stabbing at a Hanukkah party in New York made national news; at the same time, there has been a tidal wave of verbal abuse, physical violence, and widespread vandalism of Jewish spaces. We mourn the tragic loss of life, offer prayers of recovery for victims, and urge all to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in the face of intimidation.


As an international organization of librarians, archivists, researchers, writers, teachers, and lovers of literature, AJL seeks to educate the public and provide resources to fight this scourge of ignorance and hate. After the 2018 attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, AJL published the Love Your Neighbor series of youth booklists. These recommended titles demystify the Jewish experience for readers, with the aim of helping them grow in understanding and empathy. We will continue to update and add to this series in the new year. We call upon educators and librarians of all backgrounds to share this resource with their communities, and to reach out to AJL for more ways to learn about and support Jewish neighbors. Please contact info@jewishlibraries.org to see how you can help.


We will not allow our communities to accept antisemitic terrorism or any other form of hate crime as "the new normal." We will spread knowledge to fight hate. Please join us.


The Association of Jewish Libraries - The Leading Authority on Judaic Librarianship
www.jewishlibraries.org