People of the book are still reading – and writing
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People of the book are still reading – and writing

The National Library of Israel publishes statistics on the state of the country’s book publishing industry for 2018, with a focus on literature’s approach to kids with disabilities

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Looking for a book to buy at the 2019 Hebrew Book Week in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.(Courtesy Flash 90)
Looking for a book to buy at the 2019 Hebrew Book Week in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.(Courtesy Flash 90)

Just as Hebrew Book Week fills Israel’s major cities with literary events, readings and sales, the National Library of Israel has gathered statistics on publishing, writing and reading in Israel over the last year.

The report included research examining the attitudes in children’s and youth literature toward people with special needs since Israel’s establishment.

Since 2000, 78 children’s books were published with a primary focus on children with physical and cognitive disabilities. That trend has doubled since 2010, and at least 52 books have been published focusing on a main character that is a child with special needs.

In the last year alone, 11 books were published about a child with special needs, compared to ten books published in all of the 1980s.

The content of these books is also different, reported the National Library. Recent books reflect the changing attitude of society toward children with disabilities, explaining and describing how a disorder or disability is manifested and how these children cope with it, rather than trying to correct the disability.

Some books touched on how people with disabilities are often excluded in society, with a general trend toward helping accept and integrate children with disabilities into society.

Actress Gila Almagor reads a book aloud at a 2019 Hebrew Book Week event. (Courtesy Flash 90)

The report also reported on general publishing changes, finding an increase in publishing, with 879 more titles published during the last year, and an overall 35% increase in publishing over the last decade: 8,571 titles in 2018, compared with 6,326 in 2008.

There were 840 original Israeli prose and poetry books published in 2018, mostly in Hebrew, with some in Russian, English and Arabic.

The books of prose included 193 about the relationship between men and women, 84 of which were defined as romantic novels. Another 22 of those novels had a main story that concerned the Holocaust, describing everyday life during and after the war.

There were more than 400 biographies published in 2018, an increase of 20%, with 22 biographies published specifically for children and youth and many focused on women.

Most of the books published, 85.6%, were original works. The majority of the translated books published in Israel were English, at 62.6%, while other languages included German (4.1%), French (4%), Arabic (1.1%), and Swedish (1%). The remaining 27.2% portion of translated publications was made up of 30 different languages, most of them European languages.

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