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Bearing witness

“It is amazing that art could come from such unimaginable atrocity, that writers have found so many different forms — fiction, memoir, poetry, history, even comic strip — to bear witness. These authors have found a form to give voice to the unspeakable.” — Hazel Rochman

I was planning to post a response to last week’s coldly calculated threat from the White House to erase transgender identities across federal agencies (post to come). But then Saturday’s massacre in Pittsburgh happened. Jewish congregants in the Tree of Life Synagogue slaughtered as they worshipped — I don’t even know how to describe that kind of hate and darkness.

Below are some resources — about Jewish life, about the Holocaust, about hate and gun violence — from the Horn Book’s archives to shed light in the midst of darkness and make sense of the incomprehensible.

  • Hazel Rochman’s 2006 article from our What Makes a Good… series: “Beyond Oral History: What Makes a Good Holocaust Book?” The article highlights books that put the Nazis’ WWII atrocities in context for children and young adults (and grownups). As Hazel observes: “The best Holocaust accounts make young readers think about their own lives. The question, ‘What would I have done?’ is central… Extreme as the Nazi genocide was, it was not a thing apart; it was human experience. Camp survivor Bruno Bettelheim said it was what ordinary people did to ordinary people.”

  • A Holocaust booklist, compiled for Holocaust Remembrance Day, updated in April 2018.

  • A booklist featuring picture books that celebrate the accomplishments of Jewish women.

  • Emily Schneider’s recent appreciation of the work of Jewish publishers, “Jewish Books, Jewish Families.”

  • Look to the lunchroom, in which Elissa shares librarian Danielle Winter's Facebook post: "Don’t underestimate the actions or knowledge of our children. They know a lot more than us. Our children are the resistance."

  • Christopher Myers’s powerful essay, “Orlando,” written in the wake of another hate-fueled mass shooting. Commenter Carol said, “Nothing makes the loss better, but this essay and the art accompanying it are helping me to process both the loss and how the work I do could possibly have an impact.”

Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.
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Emily Schneider

Thank you very much Kitty. I feel reassured that The Horn Book has posted a heartfelt and practical response to the atrocity in Pittsburgh; not all publications or organizations in the children's literacy field have done so. As you put it, we were still responding to the unprecedented bomb threat to many of our national leaders and to the free press when the slaughter of Jews at prayer took place. Empathy with all the victims of violence and oppression, and using books and other resources to educate ourselves and our children, are a good start in confronting these assaults on our society. Emily

Posted : Oct 30, 2018 12:54


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