Once upon a time, not so long ago – in 1990, in fact – Chaim Walder was puzzled. The fourth-grade rebbe had tried everything to get his talmid (pupil) to stop hitting the other children: He talked to the boy, docked his recess, put him in the corner, and sent him to the principal. Nothing worked. Finally, he asked the child why he was acting that way. At first, the child offered all kinds of excuses: “This one hit me; that one laughed at me.” When he finally understood that his rebbe was not interested in justifications, but wanted instead to know what he was feeling in his heart, he was quiet. “Because,” as Rabbi Walder was to say much later, “children don’t speak about themselves.”
That’s how the story begins. And since this is a Where What When article, not fiction, we’ll skip right to the happy ending: In trying to get to the bottom of his student’s misbehavior, Rabbi Walder wrote a story. And through the story he stumbled upon a second career as a famous author. More important, he found a way to help children and adults heal where it hurts the most, in the heart.
Rabbi Walder, of Bnai Brak, has published ten books. His Kids Speak children’s books are bestsellers in the religious market. Written in Hebrew (Yeladim Mesaprim al Atzmam, Children Speak About Themselves), they were picked up by Feldheim Publishers and published in English; they have also been translated into French, German, and Spanish.