Peninnah Schram

Photo provided by author.

Peninnah Schram is a storyteller, teacher, author, a recording artist, and a professor at Stern College of Yeshiva University. She is the author of many books of Jewish folktales and has recorded a CD of folktales, The Minstrel and the Storyteller. She has received many awards for her work including the Covenant Award for Outstanding Jewish Educator, The Circle of Excellence Award, and the National Storytellers Network Lifetime Achievement Award.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Jewish Folktales and Legends by Aunt Naomi.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“Elijah gave a whistle and instantly the little cottage became a mansion.”

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Elie Wiesel, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Howard Schwartz.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I didn’t set out to “become” an author. However, as a storyteller, when a publisher asked me to compile a book of folktales, I immediately saw that this was a way to get more stories out to people of all ages. But before this anthology was completed, I was invited by Kar-Ben to write up a Sukkot story I had been telling. I happily jumped at this opportunity for the same reason – so more people could read and tell this story. This became the book The Big Sukkah, my first published book.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

To find your own style of writing! As a storyteller, I decided that I could only set my folktales down on the printed page in an “oral style” and “in my own voice” that could work on a printed page.