The remarkable story of Jella Lepman, who, having left Germany to escape the Nazi regime in the 1930s, chose to return in the aftermath of the Second World War, as 'Adviser on the Cultural and Educational Needs of Women and Children in the American Zone'. She soon decided that what Germany's war-ravaged children needed was to see a world of the imagination, beyond their landscape of bombed-out buildings and military vehicles.
Battling with bureaucracy and meeting with generals and statesmen, including Eleanor Roosevelt, she founded the International Youth Library, filling a huge void in the lives of Germany's children with books from all corners of the world. The IYL included a children's art studio, story- and play-writing classes, readings, foreign language classes, and the foundation of the Young People's United Nations. In 1951 Jella Lepman founded the International Board of Books for Young People, dedicated to promoting international understanding through children's books.
This is a story of tireless courage and conviction in the face of desolation and cynicism.
Jella Lepman, born in Stuttgart in 1891, was the second of three daughters of a Jewish factory owner. She organised an international reading room for children when she was only seventeen.
Her husband, a German American, died when her two children were tiny, leaving her a widow at thirty-one. She became a journalist and in 1928 published her first children’s book.
When Hitler came to power, she lost her post in the German Democratic Party and on the advice of friends sought safety in London.
This autobiography begins nine years later when she was persuaded to return to post-war Germany.
This is the story of a remarkable woman and an important document in the history of international children's literature
captivating as well as educational
from our favourite children’s publishers O’Brien Press