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Ethel Leah Heins Edit Profile

critic , author

Ethel Heins was an American children's literature consultant and critic. She was also a contributor of numerous articles about the advantages of teaching children to leading journals, such as Today’s Education and Harvard Magazine.


Ethel Heins was born on April 9, 1918 in New York City, New York, United States. She was the daughter of H. H. and Rose (M.) Yaskin.


Ethel attained Bachelor of Arts degree, graduating from Douglass College in 1938. Some time later, she contunied her studies at Harvard Graduate School of Education, graduating in 1964. Heins also received honorary doctorate at Simmons College in 1985.


Ethel Heins began a long-time career as a children’s librarian in 1938 at the New York Public Library, a post she held till 1943. In 1955 Ethel accepted a position at the Boston Public Library, where she stayed until 1962, when she left for the Lexington Public Schools System in Massachusetts as an instructional materials specialist. In 1962 Heins also began writing reviews for Horn Book magazine, a children’s journal that her husband edited. By 1974 Heins took over the editorship, a post she held for the next ten years.

Mrs. Heins was a founder of the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College in Boston, where she also taught as an adjunct professor for 10 years.

In 1989 Ethel Heins acted as a jury member of Biennial of Illustration Bratislava.

Ethel also lectured at several colleges in the Boston area and throughout the United States and Europe.


  • Heins gained prominence for her work in children’s literature and in trying to keep literature alive in the hearts of children. One of her greatest contributions were a retelling of Russian fables by Ivan Krylov. She worked with a Russian translator to stay close to the author's language and spirit while mindful of the American child as the intended reader.

    She also founded the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College in Boston.


Ethel was a member of American Library Association, New England Library Association, New England Roundtable of Teen and Children's Librarians, Children's Literature New England, Inc. and International Board on Books for Young People.


Ethel married Paul Heins on June 27, 1943. The couple gave birth to two children — Peter S. and Margery E. Heins.

H. H. Yaskin

Rose (M.) Yaskin

Peter S. Heins

Margery E. Heins

Paul Heins

Paul Heins was an English professor, author and translator of the Brothers Grimm, was editor of Horn Book from 1967 to 1974.