Jews have long been known as the people of the book. Yet I recently discovered my great grandmother, Sarah Lotte Korenstein who was born in 1879 in could not sign her own name on her American citizenship papers. She signed with an X. Sarah was born in Kiev and immigrated to America at the age of 30. Perhaps she could read and write in Yiddish and had just not yet learned English.
I cannot imagine a life without reading. I am a 52-year-old white, Jewish, suburban woman. Through reading, I can better understand the world from the perspective of so many other people. I love both fiction and non-fiction. Both types of writing help me to explore the world and to explore my knowledge of myself.
As an Elementary Librarian in a public school I’ve needed to re-read many of the books of my childhood. The words on the page have not changed but the story is new and fresh because I am a different person than the one who read that same book years before.
Do you remember Are you There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume? In my memory that book was treasure I was allowed to read and my classmates were not. It was about growing breasts and getting your period– an amazingly provocative topic for 10 year old me. Re-reading that book as an adult, I found out it is about affiliating with a religion and intermarriage. It was about knowing yourself and your values. Breasts were not the theme of the book.
Books change us and we in turn change books.
This blog is about books which make an impact. Often the books have a Jewish theme, because they are the ones that most speak to me. The books can be written for an adult, young adult or for a child. I am proud to be a book yenta and glad you’ve joined me in the quest to learn about ourselves through books.