Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Book Smarts

C. Rosenberg

Why would someone write or publish a textbook? How long does it take? Do textbooks ever become obsolete?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

 Mishpacha image



eet the Experts

Mrs. Baila Roth
Roth Publishing (Monsey, New York), a publishing house for Yiddish and English textbooks

Favorite part about working in a publishing house?

Combining my love for writing and teaching. 

Mrs. Pessie Frankel

M&M Publishing (Beit Shemesh, Israel), a publisher of English as a Second Language textbooks and other materials to help learn the language.

Favorite part about working in a publishing house?

It’s rewarding when kids (and teachers) come up to me and say, “I love English because I love your book!”

Mrs. Rifky Amsel

Former writer at Mosdos Press (Cleveland, Ohio), a publishing house of literature textbooks.

Favorite part about working in a publishing house?

The challenge of applying my skills and appreciation for literature, writing, and analytics, while making it interesting and relevant for the students.

Behind the Scenes

So who actually creates our textbooks?

“Most of our books are created by teachers who understand how students learn, and have seen the need for a specific book in their own classrooms,” Mrs. Baila Roth says. “The books may have started off with just a few stencils the teacher created for her students, which were later developed into a full-fledged program for other students to enjoy. Sometimes, if the book is successful, the author adds new volumes for the next grade levels.”

Textbooks are also written by other experts (such as college professors or researchers) in the specific field of study such as math, science, etc.

Getting the Book Out

However, lest you think differently, textbooks are more than authors writing the text. At M&M Publishing, Mrs. Pessie Frankel employs a staff of graphic artists, writers, artists, editors, and proofreaders just to plan the book and its layout.

As the publishers work on the book, they constantly evaluate whether their product meets the state’s educational criteria, as well as those important to schools. Then, a government agency determines whether the book complies with state curriculum guidelines.


“I am constantly updating, changing, coming out with new materials, like flashcards, CDs, and books, of course,” Mrs. Frankel says. “There is always new research to take into consideration, and the Ministry of Education is constantly changing, revising, and updating its requirements.” Mrs. Roth adds that before they print a title, they do a “trial year.” At the end of the year, they make changes and corrections based on the feedback received from schools who used the program. If a spelling word or lesson is too difficult to understand, for example, they simplify it.

The Right Domain

Both Mrs. Frankel and Mrs. Amsel (who worked on the Ruby (fourth-grade) Literature Workbook at Mosdos Press) speak about the complications of getting rights to reprint literature stories. Since they use stories from many different authors and publications, the copyright holder for each story must be found, and reprint permission requested.

“Some of the permissions were easy to get,” Mrs. Amsel recalls. “Yet others never made it into the book. Some were expensive and some were free.”

After a book’s content and layout is complete, the book is ready to be published, sold, and distributed.

With so many different facets of the puzzle that need to fall into place, planning a textbook requires more than just a bit of know-now, dedication, and determination. Yet, once it all falls into place, the feeling of triumph is inestimable! (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 675)

Related Stories

That’s Old School

Miriam Bloch

We interviewed adults about their school memories and regrets, the things they wish they’d known, an...

Jr. Tales: Conversation Piece

Rachel Stein

Yikes! Dovid felt the blood drain from his cheeks, and his breath came in short gasps. They’re talki...

Chocolate Bars, Puppies, and Paper Clips

Rochel Burstyn

The world’s wackiest school supplies

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Har Sinai on the Gaza Fence
Rabbi Moshe Grylak “Who would ever believe I’d be holding a sefer Torah?”
In Budapest, a Thirst for Torah
Yonoson Rosenblum “This is a matter of saving an entire tzibbur”
Torah Consumer’s Alert
Eytan Kobre To learn Torah — but just as surely, to learn from it
Relive Matan Torah Every Single Day
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Incredible zechusim we can generate through resolutions
5 out of 10: Top 5 Seforim Intros Celebrating Torah
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin What are you going to learn on Shavuos night?
Right-Hand Man
Jacob L. Freedman “Goodbye, Dr. Freedman, I’ve got a whole world to save”
The Good News about Obituaries
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman To write our own epitaphs while we can still write
Endnote: The Song That Still Plays for You
Riki Goldstein What’s that tune that, when you hear it, brings you back...
A Golden Opportunity
Faigy Peritzman What did Rus have that Orpah lacked?
Say It with Cheesecake
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A positive learning experience creates lessons that stic...
Say Yes to Kindness
Miriam Kosman With her, Rus brought the key to humanity’s redemption
A Soaring Spirit
Chana Ungar To Marcie a”h, life meant doing what G-d expected of her