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Exclusive Book & Movie Reviews: A Child Learns to Appreciate Yiddish Too Young for Yiddish by Richard Michelson, MA: Talewinds, 2002, 32 pages, $15.95

by Mitchell Bard

It is not often that a children's book brings tears to my eye, but I found Richard Michelson's book about a young boy from Brooklyn's relationship with his grandfather from the Old Country a touching one. Young Aaron discovers that his grandfather has a treasure trove of books in Yiddish and wants to learn the language, but his Zayde says he is too young. Over the years, Aaron shares his love of baseball with his Zayde and the two stayed close as the boy grew. By the time Aaron had grown up, his grandfather had to move to a room in a nursing home that didn't have room for all his Yiddish books. Seeing them in the trash, Aaron decides to rescue them and then begins to visit his Zayde regularly and bring a different book for them to study together. Aaron not only learns the language, but gets to know more about his Zayde's life. The book concludes after Aaron's Zayde has died and he begins to pass on to his own son the stories his grandfather told him prompting the boy to beg his father to teach him Yiddish as well.

The book is printed "back to front" like a Yiddish book, but the text is written in the normal left to right manner. A page at the end briefly describes the history of Yiddish and there is another page of Yiddish words. Too Young for Yiddish makes a wonderful bedtime story that will make you want to call your grandparents and ask them to read you a story.

Sources: Mitchel Bard is the Executive Director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise