With over 300,000 copies of his children’s books in print, Shmuel Blitz is one of the premiere children’s authors of our time. We spoke to him about his newest book, A House Full of Love: The Story of Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky.
AS: In an age of so many entertaining distractions, how do we get our children to love reading – and how important is it that they do?
SB: The easy answer is, to give our children great books. We saw how in the secular world, as children’s reading habits were growing worse and worse because of modern distractions, when the Harry Potter series was published, all these “non-reading” children were once again reading. And loving it. They couldn’t wait for the next volume. Give children books that they like – and they will read. That’s what I try to do. Studies have proven over and over that the more a child reads outside of school the better he will do inside of school. So it is VERY important to make sure our children are reading.
AS: There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stories about Rebbetzin Kanievsky’s greatness. Tough job choosing what to put into your book. How did you go about choosing?
SB: It was tough, but at the same time it was easy. There was so much to choose from. Stories of her middos, stories of her devotion to her husband, Reb Chaim shlita, and so much more. I chose the stories that I felt would most relate to a child, and that a child would learn from, and that would hold their interest. And mostly stories that children could incorporate into their own life.
AS: What are some of the lessons our youngsters can learn from Rebbetzin Kanievsky?
SB: There is no end to what our children can learn from Rebbetzin Kanievsky. Every action she did, every word she spoke. Just as we learn from gedolim, such as her husband, ybl’ch, Rav Chaim, we can learn from her. Our children – and we, also – can learn from the way she took care of her own children, her neighbor’s children, her family, her community, and everyone who came to her. It made no difference if the guest was an important person, or the poorest person, or even a person with severe mental problems. Her house and heart were open to all. She was a true role model for all of us.