The Great March represents a selection of Jewish stories for little children covering the period beginning with the Destruction of the First Temple and ending with the expulsion from Spain. As the book is intended to meet the needs of children in Grades Three or Four, the stories are written in simple style. A definite attempt was made by the author to write the stories as they would be told to the child by the teacher in the class or by the mother in the home. It is important that those using the book should bear this in mind. It will help them to make adequate use of the story material presented.
Too often stories in books intended for little children are abbreviated and condensed, the writers being under a mistaken impression that an abbreviated story shortened from a more expanded narrative for adults constitutes a good story for children. Actually, children need more details, more vivid and concrete writing. So the stories in this book were written especially in conversational tone, and the concreteness and vividness with which they are told should render them easy for dramatization. For this reason, too, the language, the style, and the sentence structure follow essentially the rule of simplicity.
It is well for teachers using this book to remember that the chief aim in teaching Jewish stories of the Post-Biblical Period to children in the early grades is not so much to convey information as to give inspiration. The cultivation of favorable Jewish attitudes is one of the most important aims vi
in any such course of instruction. Whatever information the children may obtain should be considered quite incidental. While we expect them, as a result of study of this book, to know some outstanding Jewish names and some important Jewish events, the primary end is that of cultivating a love for Jewish heroes, for the Jewish people, and for Jewish idealism.
Since the book was not written as a history, it was not deemed necessary to include certain historical events which, though significant, ought not to be included in a book for little children. In other words, good teaching practice at times dictated the omission of some events and some stories. Likewise, the arrangement of the stories, it was thought, need not necessarily be strictly chronological. So, though for the most part the chronological arrangement is maintained, the author departed from it whenever, for psychological reasons, it was deemed advisable to do so.
The author of this book has had years of experience as a teacher and as a critic-teacher, especially in charge of extracurricular activities in the schools of the Associated Talmud Torahs of Philadelphia. Many of the stories included in this book were tried out experimentally for two or three years with children in the younger grades.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations sincerely hopes that this book will help meet the needs of our schools, especially in the primary grades. Suggestions and criticisms will be welcomed both by the author and by the editor. If the book should help some of our little boys and girls to develop a love for their people and its ideals, we shall all feel amply repaid for our efforts.