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Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman

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With the shortage of books for children in post-World War II Germany, Jella Lepman personally translated The Story of Ferdinand into German. She then printed and distributed 30,000 copies to give to children on Christmas day. She then enlisted the U.S. Army's help in furnishing a jeep and driver to travel around Germany collecting books for a children's library, with contr With the shortage of books for children in post-World War II Germany, Jella Lepman personally translated The Story of Ferdinand into German. She then printed and distributed 30,000 copies to give to children on Christmas day. She then enlisted the U.S. Army's help in furnishing a jeep and driver to travel around Germany collecting books for a children's library, with contributions from 20 international publishers.


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With the shortage of books for children in post-World War II Germany, Jella Lepman personally translated The Story of Ferdinand into German. She then printed and distributed 30,000 copies to give to children on Christmas day. She then enlisted the U.S. Army's help in furnishing a jeep and driver to travel around Germany collecting books for a children's library, with contr With the shortage of books for children in post-World War II Germany, Jella Lepman personally translated The Story of Ferdinand into German. She then printed and distributed 30,000 copies to give to children on Christmas day. She then enlisted the U.S. Army's help in furnishing a jeep and driver to travel around Germany collecting books for a children's library, with contributions from 20 international publishers.

31 review for Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman

  1. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    When the U.S. Army asked Jella Lepman - a German Jewish refugee who had fled Nazi Germany, and spent the war years as a journalist in Britain - to return to her home country after the war, and serve as an adviser on the needs of Germany's children, she agreed. Quickly determining that, in addition to homes, clothing and food, German children needed books - books about and from other countries and peoples, books that showed the possibility of peace and international cooperation - she set up a tra When the U.S. Army asked Jella Lepman - a German Jewish refugee who had fled Nazi Germany, and spent the war years as a journalist in Britain - to return to her home country after the war, and serve as an adviser on the needs of Germany's children, she agreed. Quickly determining that, in addition to homes, clothing and food, German children needed books - books about and from other countries and peoples, books that showed the possibility of peace and international cooperation - she set up a traveling exhibition of children's titles from around the world. The phenomenal success of this exhibition, with children and parents lining up, just for a chance to hold a book, confirmed Lepman's belief that books - specifically children's books - could make the world a better place. Other projects, like Lepman's translation of The Story of Ferdinand , which was printed by a newspaper, and handed out to 30,000 children one Christmas, and the founding of The International Youth Library in Munich, soon followed. Eventually, Lepman went on to establish The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), one of the most influential children's literature organizations in the world. Jella Lepman is a woman I greatly admire: for her bravery, in returning to Germany despite her (very natural) fears; for her astonishing generosity of spirit, in caring so deeply for the welfare of children whose elders had set out to exterminate those of her faith; for her great insight and wisdom, in perceiving the vital role of children's literature (always something close to my heart) in promoting an educated and ethical world population. In short, she's something of a hero to me, and the more I learn of her story, the more impressed I am. I can't think of a better subject for a children's biography! Unfortunately, although I am enthusiastically in support of the idea of such a biography, Books for Children of the World fell a little short for me. In fact, if I weren't so interested in the subject, I probably would have awarded this two stars. Pearl Sydelle's narrative just doesn't read that well, and although this is ostensibly a picture-book for younger kids, seems to assume a level of knowledge - about WWII and the behavior of the Nazis - that not all young readers will possess. I found the illustrations by Danlyn Iantorno rather flat and unappealing. Even the title felt a little off to me - wouldn't "Books for the Children of the World" have been better? Still, despite its flaws, I'm glad this exists, as the only other book devoted to Jella Lepman's story, that I am aware of, is her adult autobiography, A Bridge of Children's Books .

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    Imagine you are a German Jew who managed to escape Hitler's Germany during the war. Now, the war is over, but you have been asked to return to Germany by the United States Army to assess what the German children living in that now decimated country need to live a better life. After all that happened to Jews in Germany, could you have done it? It would indeed take a strong, caring, forgiving person to embark on such a task, but that is exactly what Jella Lepmaan did. As Jella traveled through Germ Imagine you are a German Jew who managed to escape Hitler's Germany during the war. Now, the war is over, but you have been asked to return to Germany by the United States Army to assess what the German children living in that now decimated country need to live a better life. After all that happened to Jews in Germany, could you have done it? It would indeed take a strong, caring, forgiving person to embark on such a task, but that is exactly what Jella Lepmaan did. As Jella traveled through Germany in an army jeep, she saw that the children needed so much - clothing, food, homes, warmth. But they also wanted books. She spoke to the General at army headquarters where she was stationed about an exhibition of children's books from around the world. The General agreed this was a good idea and, night after night, Jella wrote to publishers to ask for books donations for the exhibition. She called her letters doves of peace. And, amazingly, even after what Hitler had done to the world, publishers around the world did respond. The books were great, but were for an exhibition, not for the children who wanted them. So, Jella decided to translate The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf into German. Then she had it printed - 30,000 copies on newsprint and a few days before Christmas, they were handed out to Germany's children. That was just the beginning. By 1949, Jella's first children's book exhibition had grown into the International Youth Library in Munich. This research library still exists today and still collects children's books from around the world. Sydelle Pearl's Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman is a beautifully written homage to a very courageous woman and the library she founded. Lepman believed that just as her letters were doves of peace, books were messengers of peace and the idea of peace is a clear message in her work. Pearl is herself a librarian and it is easy to see that she believes in the power of books. Illustrations add so much to a book and those of Danlyn Iantorno are no exception. These bold, colorful realistic illustrations, which appear to have been rendered in oil paint, capture both the bold spirit of Jella Lepman and the varied emotions of the children. I also thought that the tones of the colors used reminded of picture books and readers from the late 1940s and 1950s reflecting the Zeitgeist of that particular time. Be sure to read the Author's Note at the end of the book for more information about Jella Lepman and the International Youth Library. There is list of selected sources as well, should you be inclined to explore Lepman and the library further. Bear in mind that this is a historical biography and not really a picture for young readers. This book is recommended for readers age 8+ This book was provided to me by the publisher. This review was originally published at The Children's War

  3. 5 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    This is the story of the German woman who founded the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, in 1949, and who brought books to the children of Germany after the war. I had never heard of this woman before reading this book. My one question is, when she translated the classic The Story of Ferdinand into German, did she deal with any copyright issues? She then had this book printed on newsprint and distributed to children in Germany for Christmas. Can you imagine what a treasure those boo This is the story of the German woman who founded the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, in 1949, and who brought books to the children of Germany after the war. I had never heard of this woman before reading this book. My one question is, when she translated the classic The Story of Ferdinand into German, did she deal with any copyright issues? She then had this book printed on newsprint and distributed to children in Germany for Christmas. Can you imagine what a treasure those books must be today? I must read her book, A Bridge of Children's Books. This is an inspiring of how one person can make a difference. Recommended!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    After WWII Jella Lepman returns to Germany to help determine what the children need. She learns they want books. This is the story of how she gets books into the hands of the children. I enjoyed this book. I found it interesting how she found funding to start a library. I also liked that she took the initiative to get books printed that she could give to the children. The book was Ferdinand the Bull, which was a favorite of mine from childhood. I recommend this book for 7-10 year olds.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Enjoyed the story about how books made a difference to lives of children after a war... Well told historic story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mirco Redolfi

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ragina

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kim Tyo-Dickerson

  9. 5 out of 5

    GatheringBooks

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad

  11. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ronyell

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lee

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  18. 4 out of 5

    CBC Diversity

  19. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy Hustead

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  23. 5 out of 5

    Burak Ademo─člu

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

  26. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Anne

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimberley Shaw

  29. 5 out of 5

    Children's Community Center

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bijou

  31. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

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