Once, when giving a talk about my book. Heather Has Two Mommies, a lesbian mom asked me when I thought she should tell her child that some people hate lesbians. How tragic that a parent has to even think about this issue! Her question made me try to remember the first time I learned that there are people in the world who hate Jews. I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t know this fact. I don’t remember a time when my parents sat down and told me; I don’t remember being taught about anti-Semitism in school, and I had no Jewish education. I do, however, remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank—I still have my tattered, childhood copy. The book mesmerized me. I read the book curled up in my favorite chair with my beloved Cairn terrier at my feet, feeling very safe in the world. It was hard to imagine that once upon a time, Anne Frank felt that safe as well.
While it’s important to tell children the truth about the world, I believe it is more important to infuse children’s literature with hope.
Leslea Newman’s latest book is Runaway Dreidel (Henry Holt). Visit www.lesleakids.com to learn more about her children’s books.