A Nation of Little Readers: Yiddish Primers and Workbooks for Children, with Miriam Borden

A Live, Online Event Recorded Via Zoom on November 12, 2020

The 1940s and '50s were a golden age for primers, workbooks, and educational material designed for children in Yiddish schools. The books and notebooks themselves have much to tell us—but so does what the users of these materials left behind: doodles, addresses, jokes, and other marginalia that provide a glimpse into the inner world of schoolchildren in an educational system that today exists only in memory. Miriam Borden has become a collector of these archival objects and recently won the 2020 Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize for her trove of schoolbooks, flashcards, and more. In this presentation, she shares highlights of this collection and the stories behind them.

Miriam Borden is a doctoral candidate in Yiddish studies at the University of Toronto, where she teaches Yiddish language classes and leads walking tours of the city's historic Jewish neighborhood. She serves on the board of the Ashkenaz Festival and the jury of the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards. Borden has been a Field Fellow with the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project since 2016 and was a 2019–2020 Pedagogy Fellow at the Center.

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