Thiscompelling work examines classic and contemporary Jewish and African Americanchildren's literature. Through close readings of selected titles publishedsince 1945, Jodi Eichler-Levine analyzes what is at stake in portraying religioushistory for young people, particularly when the histories in question aretraumatic ones. In the wake of the Holocaust and lynchings, of the MiddlePassage and flight from Eastern Europe's pogroms, children's literatureprovides diverse and complicated responses to the challenge of representing difficultcollective pasts. In readingthe work of various prominent authors, including Maurice Sendak, Julius Lester,Jane Yolen, Sydney Taylor, and Virginia Hamilton, Eichler-Levine changes ourunderstanding of North American religions. She illuminates how narratives ofboth suffering and nostalgia graft future citizens into ideals of Americanliberal democracy, and into religious communities that can be understoodaccording to recognizable notions of reading, domestic respectability, andnational sacrifice. Ifchildren are the idealized recipients of the past, what does it mean to telltales of suffering to children, and can we imagine modes of memory that movepast utopian notions of children as our future? Suffer the Little Childrenasks readers to alter their worldviews about children's literature as an"e;innocent"e; enterprise, revisiting the genre in a darker and more unsettledlight.
Suffer the Little Children
Uses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children's Literature