Jan Slepian (born January 2, 1921) is an author of books for children and young adults. Born Janice Berek in New York City, she obtained a degree in psychology at Brooklyn College, later doing graduate work in clinical psychology and speech pathology at the University of Washington in Seattle. She worked as a speech therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and before embarking on a writing career.
With co-author Ann Seidler, she published several illustrated books in a series called the "The Listen-Hear Books". Titles included The Hungry Thing, The Hungry Thing Returns and The Hungry Thing Goes to a Restaurant: all three are for young readers and teach about phonemic awareness; they also co-authored The Cat Who Wore a Pot on Her Head, Alfie and the Dream Machine and several other titles.
Some of her books deal with mental disability, including The Alfred Summer (1980) Lester's Turn (1981) (both of which feature the voice of a child afflicted by cerebral palsy) and Risk n' Roses (1990).
Books for adolescent readers include The Night of the Bozos (1983), The Broccoli Tapes (1989), Pinocchio's Sister (1995), Mind Reader (1997) and Emily Just in Time (1998).
Her husband was the noted mathematician David Slepian.
Her 2009 book, Astonishment: Life in the slow lane (ISBN 0-557-04914-8), self-published when she was 88, is a collection of twenty brief essays on aging and life in a retirement community. In 2010, Laura Ekstrand, artistic director of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theater in South Orange, adapted the work into a stage production which was subsequently performed at various venues in New Jersey. In 2012, Slepian published a follow-up to Astonishment called How to Be Old.
Awards and recognition
- The Alfred Summer was included on a list of the One Hundred Books that Shaped the Century by the School Library Journal (2000). It was also nominated for American Book Award and was on the honor roll of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (1980).
- Penguin profile of Jan Slepian
- Herbert N. Foerstel, Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries, Greenwood Publishing Group, July 2002, p. 171
- Bookrags profile
- NYT review of Lester's Turn
- La Gorce, Tammy (September 17, 2011). "Author, 90, Sees Her Essays Brought to Life Onstage". New York Times. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- La Gorce, Tammy (June 11, 2012). "New Wrinkle On Old Age". New Jersey Monthly. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- Boston Globe-Horn Book Award