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Parents and picture books

I review three picture books about little superheroes for the New York Times this week. (I didn’t much like any of them.)

Reviewing for a newspaper (or whatever it is we call them now) is really different from what we need to do at the Horn Book. You get more words, but you have to assume that your audience doesn’t know a thing about children’s books so, Lucy, there’s a lot of  ‘splaining to do. At the same time, your audience is exactly the demographic targeted by the books  I covered Sunday: educated, book-buying parents and other retail-susceptible reading adults. It will forever be a mystery to me that civilian grownups can be completely  particular and unapologetic when it comes to their own reading choices but still believe that their kids need to be instructed and preached to, by a celebrity if possible. Don’t these people remember how they came by their own love of reading? But maybe I am underestimating public taste: let’s just hope that Anita Silvey is onto something when she writes in this month’s SLJ that the reason people aren’t buying more new picture books is that too many new picture books suck out loud. (I paraphrase.)



Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. I very much hope that Anita’s terrific article in SLJ gets as wide a readership as possible–including everyone who cares about children, books, and reading. Here’s one quote:
    “If I could chart a course to rescue picture books, I’d suggest that we establish the writer again as half of the equation. We need real stories, and long stories, that can be read more than once.” So true. Books with stories, memorable characters, and (whenever possible) delicious language (I say “whenever possible” because I definitely know how difficult it is to write a good book–).

    Your NYTBR piece is equally passionate about the dangers of manipulating story for adult purposes. “The best picture books reward children and parents alike, the weakest convey parental instructions…”

    Let’s all fight for the very best for the very young (and I paraphrase).

  2. “always wear a helmet . . .”

    Hey! Watch it! I loved Officer Buckle and Gloria.

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