Interview: Prolific Author Shares His Bar Mitvah Story In Coming Of Age Anthology

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Alan Katz is the author of 50 books for young readers, including Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs, OOPS!, Stinky Thinking, and three books in the Lieography series. Recently, he wrote an entry in the anthology Coming of Age: 13 B’Nai Mitzvah Stories, about his bar mitzvah, a common Jewish tradition that celebrates the transition from child to adult.

In addition to writing books, he’s also been nominated for six Emmys for writing TV shows, hosted a game show and created comic books and trading cards.

Coming of Age debuts April 19! Some of the proceeds will go to organizations that fight antisemitism. Read more about Alan Katz below:

Question: How did you get chosen to write for Coming Of Age?

Answer: I’ve been friends with (co-editors) Henry Herz and Jonathan Rosen for many years; I am honored that they asked me to participate.

Q: How has your bar mitzvah shaped you into who you are today? 

A: It gave me a foundation; an inner sense of belonging to my faith that has stayed with me for more than 50 years and carried me through my three sons’ Bar Mitzvahs and my daughter’s B’nai Mitzvah.

Q: Why do you love your faith? 

A: My faith gives me an unbreakable bond to my family and friends, past and present. My father has been dead for more than 40 years, but it is my faith that keeps me connected to him in so many important ways.

Q: Why do you think a mitzvah book is so important? 

A: This book features 13 very different stories on a singular topic. We are all different, and we all celebrate our coming of age in different ways. I think that’s vital for kids (and adults) of all faiths to see.

Q: How does it feel to have written Emmy-nominated TV shows?

A: Writing for television means new excitement 24/7. It’s like writing a new book every day. I’ve been fortunate to be able to create shows with some amazing people.

Q: Tell me more about your Lieography series and how it came to be?

A: My twin sons Nathan and David enjoyed every different kind of books as young boys. Nathan adored non-fiction, especially biographies, while David devoured humorous books. After reading to them at bedtime one night, I said, “Wow, you need to hear different books, because there are no funny biographies.”

Then, as writers do, I asked myself why not? And I wrote some. Each Lieography is based on a real-life hero, but absolutely nothing in the book is true. I made it all up purely to make kids laugh and let them have a good time reading. Babe Ruth is still a ballplayer, Amelia Earhart is a flyer, Thomas Edison is an inventor…but I created everything in the book without any regard to facts. Then, at the end of the book is a chapter of REAL information about the person…so kids can learn some and then hopefully, go do some more research on them. Laugh, laugh, laugh, learn, learn, learn…I like that!

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