The sight of a ‘children’s room’ in a public library just after school hours is enchanting…they pour into its doors, the crowd of children, well-dressed, poorly clad, boys, girls, big, small, all with an assured air of welcome, comfortably, easily, happily at home among bookshelves as they are in no other spot. Thirty years ago […]
In the age of preschool princesses and teenage werewolves, nonfiction, conspicuously, has class. That came across buoyantly in the March/April 2011 issue of the Horn Book, where prominent persons in the field wrote about their work and what today’s nonfiction aspires to.
Their aims are admirable, their commitment is impressive, their enthusiasm is infectious; as a cadre, they have a lot to be proud of. But not because their work, however fine, surpasses the work of their predecessors. It isn’t better researched or better illustrated, as some of the contributors suggest, and it certainly isn’t more venturesome. In kids’ nonfiction, “going where no adult book has gone before” is nothing new.
In brief, the children’s library movement was touched off by Caroline Hewins, at the Hartford Public Library, who passed the torch to Anne Carroll Moore, at the New York Public, and Alice Jordan, at the Boston Public. Bertha Mahony Miller, founding editor of The Horn Book, sought guidance from both of them. Principal allies were […]
Richard Dorson, the late dean of American folklorists, had a word for folklore that was not authentic, not the voice of the people. He called it fakelore, and to his mind most folklore published for children fell into that category. Dorson and other folklorists didn’t concern themselves with “Cinderella” and the like, stories that had […]
For the past eighty years, most of the twentieth century, the magisterial figure of Anne Carroll Moore, first Superintendent of Children’s Work at the New York Public Library (1906–1941), has loomed over American children’s books, a warts-and-all icon to insiders and a handy target for outsiders. It was Moore and her associates, indeed, who were […]
When Carter Woodson started Negro History Week in 1926, he wanted the world to know that his people, too, had a history — something his own people had been prevented from learning. What Arna Bontemps didn’t learn as a boy, he put into books for black children and white. Who’d imagine a whole month of […]