A Nobel Laureate and his love for children’s literature

December 10, 2010

One of my favorite images is I.B Singer, along with other writers at the Garden Cafeteria in NYC, discussing the purpose of literature while eating mountains of rice pudding and countless cups of coffee.

I.B.Singer (Nov 21-1902- July 24, 1991) was the recipient of the 1978 Nobel Laureate in Literature. His acceptance was delivered in Yiddish and English and part of his Nobel Lectures was titled “ Why I Write for Children”.”  In honor of the Novel Laureate Award ceremony and banquet on December 10, I would like to share that piece.

…Ladies and Gentlemen: There are five hundred reasons why I began to write for children, but to save time I will mention only ten of them.

Number 1) Children read books, not reviews. They don’t give a hoot about the critics. Number 2) Children don’t read to find their identity.
Number 3) They don’t read to free themselves of guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation.
Number 4) They have no use for psychology.
Number 5) They detest sociology.
Number 6) They don’t try to understand Kafka or Finnegans Wake.
Number 7) They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.
Number 8) They love interesting stories, not commentary, guides, or footnotes.
Number 9) When a book is boring, they yawn openly, without any shame or fear of authority.
Number 10) They don’t expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that it is not in his power. Only the adults have such childish illusions.

The author of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes will be missed

December 3, 2010

Eleanor Coerr, author of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, died on November 22, at the age of 88. During a writing career that spanned 25 years, Coerr published several books for children, but is best known for Sadako. First published by Puffin in 1977, the novel is based on the life of Sadako Sasaki, […]


Reading books with children to build bridges and break down borders

December 3, 2010

Being in the company of educators from around the world at the ECIS conference in Nice, France  gave me renewed energy and faith in the ability of language—specifically literature, to bridge the cultural divide. Those of us who work in education have an amazing opportunity and responsibility to offer children all forms of literature that […]


The (brilliant) pedagogy of Grandmothers

December 1, 2010

Having just returned from presenting at the European Council of Independent Schools in Nice France, I want to share with you some thoughts from the conference keynote speaker, Professor Sugata Mitra. Professor Mitra’s work is in the field of Cognitive Science, Information Science, and Educational Technology. Early in the morning as I sat alongside bleary […]


Thank goodness Mark Twain failed as a newspaper reporter…

November 30, 2010

If you are a fan of Mark Twain ( 11.20.1835- 4.21.1910)— 2010 being the centennial of Mark Twain’s death—you will find yourself in your heyday.  The centennial of his death brings more events than one can keep track of. Living in San Francisco makes me proud to know that the city played a significant role […]


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