by Gail Hareven

Every Child Imagines Orphanhood

The great success of Harry Potter I attribute, among other things, to the fact that this series goes back to the principles of children’s literature of an earlier era, portraying orphanhood—every child imagines this sometimes— adventure and a struggle with evil.

Here is a true story. About two years ago an Israeli child was kidnapped in Russia. In an effort to collect a ransom, the kidnappers shackled him in a dark pit, and after a few months cut off his finger and sent it to the boy’s father. The boy was freed in the end, in terrible condition, as would be expected. When asked in the hospital in Moscow, by the children of the Israeli consulate, what book to bring him to  read, he asked—to the surprise of those who don’t understand what children’s literature is to read something from the “Chills” series of Israeli thrillers. He was lucky there was no educator type in the area, and he held that “Chills” book in his bandaged hand all the way back on the flight to Israel.

Gail Hareven was born and lives in Jerusalem. She has written books for children and adults as well as plays. She writes on politics and feminism and is a columnist for Maariv and The Jerusalem Report.

How Books Tell the World’s Bad News to Children

The articles in this special section:

Beware Sentimental Tripe

by Jane Yolen

Truth Soothes

by Susan Rich

Heroines Overcome their Demons

by Gail Carson Levine

Bad News from the Start

by Ellen Handler Spitz

Kaddish as Magical Incantation

by Susie Morgenstern

Cry for Someone Else

by Esther Rudomin Hautzig

History Helps

by Karen B.Winnick

Struggles of Underdogs

by Sonya Sones

No Brainwashing

by Yehudit Kafri

Hope After the Holocaust

by Ruth Minsky Sender

Pain Is a Teacher

by Julius Lester

Forget Bibliotherapy

by Johanna Hurwitz

War in a Picture Book?

by Fran Manushkin

Discovering Hatred

by Leslea Newman

Between Hopes and Reality

by Etgar Keret

The Power of Anger

by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso