About Me

Dainy Bernstein

nonbinary – they/them

  • teacher
  • scholar
  • tutor
  • writer

I grew up in Boro Park, Brooklyn, NY. I attended Bais Yaakov of Boro Park elementary school, and then moved on to its sister school, Bais Yaakov High School. I spent a year in Cleveland, Ohio, at Yavne Seminary before coming back to teach 8th grade English Language Arts at Bais Yaakov of Boro Park for two years. I then attended City College of New York, CUNY, where I earned my BA in English Literature and Classical Studies. After a year off to figure out if I really wanted to pursue graduate study (I really did), I began working toward my PhD in the English Department of the CUNY Graduate Center.

My primary research interest is the portrayal of and attitude toward childhood and education in a variety of texts. I think about how the texts of various eras in Britain and America both reflect prevalent ideas about childhood, and how contemporary ideas about the past (and particularly the Middle Ages) manifest in children’s books. I teach a two-part course on Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature and Critical Approaches to Adolescent Literature at Lehman College.

I began graduate school as a medievalist, with the intention of studying medieval literature and its contemporary adaptations. I still have a love of medieval literature, and of adaptations, although my primary focus has shifted to Haredi children’s literature. My work in medieval literature focuses on childhood and adolescence in British romances and in Hebrew Crusades chronicles and piyyutim (poetry) from Ashkenaz. I frequently teach a survey course on medieval and early modern British literature at Lehman College.

My dissertation focuses on American Haredi children’s literature between the years 1980 and 2000, the first two decades of children’s books from major Haredi publishers. I trace the factors that led to this moment in Haredi publishing and in Haredi children’s culture, and I examine the ways in which the Haredi child reader’s literacy was fostered and developed by these texts.

Future projects include:

  • a collection of essays about artifacts of Orthodox Jewish Childhood
  • a database / finding aid for Haredi children’s books
  • a digital exhibit to make my work accessible to the public
  • additional publications on the vast archive of Haredi children’s literature