Bat Sheva Dagan

“At the beginning of my career I was a kindergarten teacher. The children saw the number tattooed on my forearm and started asking questions. I was uncertain about the answers I should give them. How do you explain holocaust concepts – like ghettos, concentration camps – without elaborating on extermination methods? Children are very curious by nature, and I couldn’t leave their questions unanswered. It made me think about ways to tell them my story without scaring them too much.

I decided to tell it my own way – to evade the atrocities and focus on the human spirit. I told them about friendships, about people helping each other, and especially about the conscious choice we have in life – the choice between good and bad – and the importance of being aware to the power of kindness. My conversations with those children made me feel I should look for ways to bring kids closer to this subject, taking into account their unique perceptions and limited life experience. What happened during the holocaust? Rhymes for children who want to know, Chicka the ghetto dog, If stars could talk, Today the siren cried are all books I wrote for children. In addition, I wrote two books for youth and adults: Bless imagination, curse imagination and From here to there as time goes by.

One of my books, Chicka the ghetto dog, tells the story of a touching reunion between a boy, who spent the war in hiding with his parents, and his dog, which was taken care of by a Polish acquaintance. The story focuses on the relationship between the child and his dog and, as always with my books, has a happy end – because I don’t want my young readers to lose their faith in man, and besides, I think every holocaust survivor is a Happy End in itself.

At the beginning, many adults voiced objections to my “children’s holocaust literature”, but the children themselves reacted very positively, because they finally got some answers. And nowadays, telling children about the holocaust in a moderate manner is even more important, because all the atrocities are available at a push of a button. A gradual exposure is much recommended, so that the children know there is a choice between good and bad at any stage. However, some level of exposure is inevitable, especially here in Israel where the sirens always raise some questions among children.”

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