I Love Books…
To say I am passionate about books would be somewhat of an understatement. Books are for me what shoes were for Imelda Marcos. There can never be too many. I can never read enough.
It isn’t about the books really. It is about reading. I do not remember a time in my life when I did not have a book in my hand. Plus an extra just in case I finished that one. And maybe another one in the car, just to be on the safe side.
I think it has to do with escape. Books take me far away from my current reality and that was often a wonderful relief for me.
I was raised Italian-Catholic and spent eight years in Catholic school (4th – 12th Grade.) There was a time when I thought about becoming a nun, but that Vow of Obedience just stopped me in my tracks. I think I read every book in our school library. I know a lot about the lives of many saints.
A Jew. By Choice.
My association with Jewish books came later in my life. I married a great Jewish guy. We had a baby boy. It’s a long story. I have told it many times in many places and you can read one version here, but the short of it is we decided to raise our son Jewish. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t quite sure what all that entailed. I sure as heck didn’t know (I was the Catholic side of the family, remember?)
Since I was the mother, it seemed to fall on me to find out. So, I went where I always went – to the bookstore. The first Jewish book I bought was KarBen’s Come, Let Us Welcome Shabbat. I still have it. My son is 25 years old and in college. My daughter is 21 years old and working at Starbucks. My husband and I have been married 29 years. We still have Friday night Shabbat dinners at our home. And I am now a Jew. Such is the power of a Jewish book.
The Birth of forwordsbooks…
My kids went to Jewish preschool. At one point, the Parents’ Club decided to run a book fair. I, of course, volunteered to chair it. We used Scholastic books, because everyone knew them.
We signed up. The books came. The Christmas books. The Easter books. The books for grades 3-8. All came to our little Jewish Preschool. We were unhappy.
The following year, we decided to do another book fair. I knew of a children’s book wholesaler relatively close by. We opened an account through our Temple Gift Shop and another mother and myself, visited the wholesaler and came back with a huge selection of age appropriate Jewish children’s books and classic children’s literature. We completely sold out our entire inventory. We were very happy.
The Preschool Director was so happy. She went to a meeting of Preschool Directors and kvelled (boasted) about the wonderful book fair that her Parents’ Club had put on. The next day I received a call from one of the Preschool Directors who had attended the meeting asking me if I would do a book fair for her preschool. forwordsbooks was born.
My Master Plan…
From the very beginning, forwordsbooks has always focused on bringing the best in Jewish children’s literature to the school’s we serve. But we have also had another, rather unique niche, in the types of books we have tried to deliver to our core audience.
In addition to the best in Jewish children’s literature, we also look for secular books with Jewish values content. As I decide which of the many new, wonderfully illustrated and delightfully told stories I want to review for my catalog each year, I keep in mind Jewish tradition and Jewish VALUES. I then try to find those books that will convey the values appropriate to a specific age level and curriculum in the best and most effective way possible. Finally, and probably most importantly, I look for those books that will excite the imagination of the children, being taught in a way that will tie them firmly into the lesson being presented, and create for them an internal moral encyclopedia from which they can retrieve information to help them deal with life’s challenges in a Jewishly ethical way.
It is that “internal moral encyclopedia” that I am hoping to help build in every Jewish child who may be touched by a book that is recommended by forwordsbooks. And world peace wouldn’t be so bad either…
Kids Books That Matter…
That’s my new tag line – “kids books that matter,” because if they don’t why talk about them. If they do, you should know about them. If they are out there, I want to find them. as I said in my blog about this:
“That’s what I look for. They do not have to be Jewish. They should be for kids. They do have to matter. This is near perfect. I am going for it. Simple.”
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology. Really. No, really.
There are two things I live by:
- Nothing you ever do in life is wasted.
- There are “Credentials,” meaning framed pieces of paper on the wall that are important and equal many hours of study in a classroom and there is a life lived, meaning 31 years of management experience, an eclectic business career including starting my own successful national business, over 50 years of reading many books on many subjects, an auto-didactic education in Judaism, becoming so recognized as an expert on Jewish Children’s Literature that I was honored to be invited to become a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, a successful, loving, respectful, over-30-year relationship with the same man, raising 2 children to be responsible adults, helping many others on their road to Judaism, one life-threatening moment, and more friends than I deserve.
I guess if you need more credentials than that, I am not your woman and you should go to someone else’s website for information. But don’t, because I really think you’ll like it here.
Besides, you haven’t heard about my gorilla collection yet or the books I am writing or what it was like to be a long distance operator…see, I told you – you might like it here.