Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Lion and the Mouse

Do children deserve a place in public libraries? And if they do, what type of literature should be made available to them? Check out this essay from this week’s New Yorker. It's long, but it's a fascinating peek at the genesis of children’s libraries and the evolution of children’s book publishing.

You'll hear EB White, Anne Carroll Moore [the first—wildly influential— Children’s Librarian of the New York Public Library], Katherine Angell [Katharine Angell White—wife of EB, fiction editor of the New Yorker, and children’s book reviewer], and Ursula Nordstrom [director of Harper children’s publishing department] as they fought “the battle that reshaped children’s literature.”

What was the battle? Whether Stuart Little was suitable for children.

Read this essay; there are so many pithy opinions in it…almost every single one still relevant to children’s publishing today.

Leave us a comment on the quote that struck you the most!


Elisabeth said...

From Katherine White: "They seem to regard books for children with the same tolerant tenderness with which nearly any adult regards a child. Most of us assume there is something good in every child; the critics go on from this to assume there is something good in every book written for a child. It is not a sound theory"

Books written by celebrities instantly came to mind when I read this quote!

Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing it.

Melissa said...

Elisabeth, that's one of my favorites too!

We've got a much more robust reviewing/critical community for children's literature than they did 60 years ago, but you can still run into a correlary today that drives me nuts: if there's
"something good in every book written for a child" then all books for children are equally good, and there's no real need to think critically about children's literature.