Yet by focusing so much on the Holocaust, we are telling children, Jews no more, that the worst thing that has happened to us is the cornerstone of our collective identity. Are we trying to scare Jewish children into loving their Jewishness? Trying to blame non-Jews for refraining from abuses and attacks? How’s it going for us? And how, well, we’re making Judaism Attractive For Jewish children the primary story we share about ourselves when we are victims of mass murder?
Although the Sidney Taylor Prize winning Holocaust books are mostly excellent, the truth is that excellence in Holocaust books is rare. majority of The Holocaust Kidlit Is, Actually, Godly: Age-Inappropriate (Why We Need a Picture Book About It a cat looking at the Kristallnacht?), deceptive (the vast majority of Jewish families were.) No, Actually, reunited after the warStill Children’s Books need a happy ending, so …) and based on fiction and fact (the king of Denmark did No wear a yellow star In sympathize with the Jewish community; a famous italian cyclist Maybe did No save 800 jews)
And many people focus on great Christians rescuing passive, helpless Jews. We don’t need any more righteous-gentile books; No one will improvise on Lois Lowry’s Flawless”number of stars, otherwise also. They are the equivalent of white-savior narratives in black literature. Show us Jewish resistance fighters, ghetto fighters, smugglers and spies! and genug With well-meaning but sleazy young adult novels that use the Holocaust as an atmospheric, high-drama backdrop for a love story, deliver emotional intensity without true gravity. let’s not even discuss Popular young adult novel about a teenage girl death-camp survivor In a dystopian alternate timeline, one who develops shape-changing powers from experiments such as Mengele, falls in love with a hot Axis boy and enters an intercontinental motorcycle race in order to hit Hitler with the ball of victory .
And, oh,the boy in the Striped pajamasNine-year-old Bruno is the son of a Nazi commandant, yet has no idea what his father does or even what a Jew is. He befriends a Jewish boy, Samuel, who somehow lives in Auschwitz. manages to walk away from his daily activities with Bruno over an un-electrified, unsecured fence. The story isn’t heartwarming; it’s a lie. The Jews who managed to reach them ( In fact, electrified) the fence threw itself against them commit suicide. Bruno would have known what Jews were; until 1935, 60 percent German boys were members of the Hitler Youth. Bruno may not have thought that people in “striped pajamas” were on vacation; Real prisoners looked like walking skeletons. and most were 9 year old boys gas on arrival At Auschwitz, so Samuel might not have been there at all.
Even non-trivial, fact-based Holocaust books are problematic because it is Many. The Sidney Taylor Book Award committee read 146 books this year; 32 were about the Holocaust. Of the big five publishers and Scholastic, however – the books with the highest prestige and highest production values – 11 out of 44 (25 percent) were related to the Holocaust.