I Live With My Mommy: new Jewish picture book addresses life with a single mother

Today, I’d like to share with you this interview with Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein, the author of the upcoming picture book I Live With My Mommy. This new, groundbreaking picture book for the first time focuses on growing up in a single-parent, Orthodox Jewish home. I learned about the book through its illustrator, the gifted Dena Ackerman, and upon my request, she hooked me up with Tzvia for a bit of Q & A via email.

picture book about Jewish home and divorce

I Live With Mommy, Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein’s new book about growing up with an Orthodox single mother.

RK: What led you to write about children living with a single mother?

TEK: Over 30 years ago I got divorced. At that time it was — or at least seemed to be — very rare [in the Orthodox community]. Walking my (approximately) 4-year-old daughter home from gan (nursery school) with her friend, I overheard her explaining to her friend: “No, my abba (daddy) didn’t die. They got ‘vorced.”

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Reading is for everyone, even those with no bookshelf

In The L.A. Times, I just read a touching article by YA author Amy Goldman Koss about her efforts to offer reading material to the homeless. Her program is in a Glendale, California homeless shelter, but I was reminded of the role libraries play in the lives of the homeless, as well.

In local libraries, I’ve encountered the homeless on nearly every visit. Continue reading

What? No love triangle? How books for Jewish teens fit into current YA trends

If you ask observant Jewish teens here in the U.S. whether they overall prefer Jewish books or secular ones, most of them will tell you secular books (trust me, I write for teens, so I’ve asked). Sad, but true.

Why most Orthodox teens prefer secular books

Interestingly, some of these teens will tell you that they wish there were more Jewish books for teens that suited them. Others will tell you they don’t like either Jewish or secular novels — the former don’t engage them, and latter conflict with their religious beliefs.

Thursday, I caught an excellent article on CNN about the history of YA novels in the U.S. You can read it here. There was little that was news to me in the article, but it did make me think about something that’s troubled me for a while — namely why so many Jewish teens are enthralled by secular books that don’t necessarily reflect the values of their families.

Let’s consider why secular YA books are currently selling like hotcakes. Continue reading

How to optimize your Goodreads “To-Read” list

A few weeks back, I posted about how we select the books we want to read now, next and never.

On a related theme, I just spent an hour culling unwanted books from my Goodreads “To-Read” list. 

Because what good is a “To-Read” list if you don’t really want to read the books on it?

After my very well-intentioned husband took the aforementioned list to the library and returned with many of the books it contained, I discovered few were readable in the land of Mrs. Rebecca Klempner. Three offended my (admittedly rather sensitive) sensibilities so much that I immediately took them out to our van and left them there to be returned to the library. Ugh.

How do such books get on my “To-Read” list in the first place? Continue reading

Prejudices, or how we pick what we want to read now, next or never

My sister attended Conservative rabbinical school here in L.A. back when I was a California greenhorn, still getting confused because the ocean was to the west instead of east, that people called flip-flops slippers and jimmies, sprinkles. At the time, I was exploring Orthodoxy, but shared many of my sister’s friends from the UJ (now American Jewish University) and her Conservative synagogue. Despite my move to Orthodoxy, I remain friendly with many of her friends and colleagues.

Recently, one of my sister’s classmates came out with a book. Naturally, I was excited, so I checked read the synopsis on Amazon.

Within 30 seconds, I decided that I couldn’t and wouldn’t read the book. Continue reading

Save the books for L.A. Jewish kids!

The local Jewish children’s library here in L.A. will be closing in a month and a half. It gets plenty of visitors, but the Federation wants to let the Zimmer Museum (a bigger money-maker) use the space.

pout

Think she heard the Jewish Library is closing? (Picture available through Creative Commons–rumolay on Flickr)

Regular patrons like me are grumbling. How else can we feed the voracious literary appetites of our Jewish kids without breaking the bank? PJ Library is a fabulous resource, but has three drawbacks:

  1. Kids can’t select their own titles to read.
  2. Kids can only receive books for a small window of childhood.
  3. Kids get only one book a month.

This past Sunday, the Jewish library was packed for the monthly Read with Dogs event, and the parents bemoaned the closure. We’re upset that the amazing librarian, Amy, will lose her job, and will miss the books and activities that we’ve enjoyed there.

There’s a Facebook Page for the effort to save the book collection at a new location. If anyone has the link, please post it below in the comments. It’ll only work through grassroots efforts.