Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Wolfe
by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe

*The Yiddish word for children is “kinder”

Julie Bosman (“Picture Books, Long a Staple, Lose Out in the Rush to Read,” New York Times, Oct. 8. 2010), wrote that “Picture books are so unpopular these days at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., that employees there are used to placing new copies on the shelves, watching them languish and then returning them to the publisher.” Yes, publishers have cut down on the number of new titles of picture books.

The Yiddish word meaning “to blame” is “bashuldikn.” Who do we blame? The recession? Pressure on preschoolers to read chapter books? (A chapter book is a story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age 7-10. Unlike picture books for younger readers, a chapter book tells the story primarily through prose, rather than pictures. Chapter books contain plentiful illustrations. The stories are usually divided into short chapters, which provide children with opportunities to stop and resume reading if their attention spans are not long enough.) Caregiver roulette? (The current acclaimed example of having a multitude of babysitters and day care situations after mommy—or daddy—returns to work.) This term was coined by Isabelle Fox.

Or, have we all become “Gourmet Parents”?
Paul Dickson (“Family Words”) says the ultimate GP question came on a Washington radio call-in show on which the guest was a childhood development “maven”/expert.

I’m worried that my daughter’s linguistic development is being neglected. Could you suggest a good set of phonic flash cards?

How old is she?

Three months.

Goodnightmoon.jpgThe National Education Association (NEA) celebrates “Read Across America” by encouraging adults to read to children. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (“Parenting With Fire - Lighting Up the Family with Passion and Inspiration”) writes, “There’s always pleasure to be found in cuddling up to someone who cares about you, and comfort in the simple, repetitive rhythms of Goodnight Moon…It doesn’t take a lot to impress a child. A simple hug, a story read with gusto, an anthill will do.”

Why does Rabbi Shmuley specifically mention the book, “Goodnight Moon”? This is the very book my neighbor, Laurie Gindi, gave to my newest grandson, Preston, when he was born two years ago.

“Goodnight Moon is an American children’s book written by Margaret Wise Brown; it was illustrated by Clement Hurd. First published in 1947, it is a highly acclaimed example of a bedtime story. It’s about a child saying goodnight (“gute nakht”) to everything (“altsding”) around: Goodnight room. Goodnight moon (“levone”). Goodnight cow (“beheyme”) jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon…”

It’s really a “shande” (shame) when stores are displaying less picture books. Although a book like “Goodnight Moon” takes place in a single room, the child will notice many details from page to page.

Preschoolers and “der kinder-gortn” (kindergarten) student will notice that the “royt” (red) balloon hanging over the bed disappears in several of the color plates, then reappears at the end…and the socks disappear from the drying rack. They’ll notice the young “moyz” (mouse) and kittens who wander around the room.

Another new picture book that I personally recommend is titled, “Beautiful Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken” by Daniel Pinkwater. A chicken (“hun”) escapes from the butcher’s shop and finds a new “heym” among parrots in Brooklyn. The characters in the book don’t just speak one language to each other. There’s English, Spanish, and Yiddish, translated phonetically for those who can’t read the Hebrew characters.

The author explains his multilingual approach: “Growing up there was Yiddish in the background in my family, as in many families. In our case, the parents didn’t really want us to understand it, because they used it as a code; it was a secret language.”


Marjorie Wolfe recalls a sign in a bookstore in Huntington, New York. It read:


Marjorie Wolfe
  Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe