We live in the opening decade of the 21st century and one would assume that in an enlightened nation such as Sweden historic anti-semitism would long have been laid to rest, but a first grade reader appears to present a stereotype of Jews that Nazis would be glad to offer their students in the 1930s. A first grade book which is intended to help children read has a passage about a boy with thick glasses who sits alone and apart from other children. The explanation offered by the book is: “Because he is a Jew.” That passage would have earned rave reviews from just about every Nazi publication. Elsewhere in the book, boys are portrayed as being skilled in mathematics while girls struggle with being able to count. Parents in Kariskoga in central Sweden are up in arms at such blatant examples of hate in a book for first graders.
The response by the author and publisher is revealing. They do not offer an apology but argue presenting such misinformation and prejudice provides an excellent opportunity to offer contrasting viewpoints! They want teachers to argue against the book as part of helping children learn how to read! Wow!