What We Find In Young Children’s Literature

From “Good Night Moon” to this year’s crop, what we seek and share in young children’s literature.

Kathy Johnson, of Pleasant Garden, N.C., reads a copy of "Goodnight Moon," at the New York Public Library's bookstore, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in New York. Author Margaret Wise Brown's unpublished poems were recently released in a brand new collection. (AP)

Kathy Johnson, of Pleasant Garden, N.C., reads a copy of “Goodnight Moon,” at the New York Public Library’s bookstore, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in New York. Author Margaret Wise Brown’s unpublished poems were recently released in a brand new collection. (AP)

News from the snuggly world of children’s bedtime books lately.  The world of our first reading to little ones one and two and three and four years old.  The world of “Good Night Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny.”  From an old trunk of “Good Night Moon” author Margaret Wise Brown, a new trove of songs and poems.  She died in 1952.  She’s back.  And a new study saying in the thousands of children’s books published last year, still few with children of color.  What are we reading to our littlest ones these days?  Are we reading? This hour On Point:  what we seek and share in young children’s books.

— Tom Ashbrook


Leonard Marcus, children’s book historian and author. Curator of the current New York Public Library exhibit “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” (@leonardsmarcus)

LeVar Burton, actor, host of the popular PBS children’s reading program, “Reading Rainbow.” (@levarburton)

Starr LaTronica, manager of children and youth services for the Four County Public Libraries in Vestal, New York and current president of the American Library Association’s Association for Library Service to Children. (@starrreader)

See Some Great Children’s Book Suggestions Over On Our Blog

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: The Apartheid of Children’s Literature — “This apartheid of literature — in which characters of color are limited to the townships of occasional historical books that concern themselves with the legacies of civil rights and slavery but are never given a pass card to traverse the lands of adventure, curiosity, imagination or personal growth — has two effects.”

Publisher’s Weekly: ‘Goodnight Songs’ Collects Never-Seen Margaret Wise Brown Works — “The story of the songs’ discovery goes back almost a quarter century. Amy Gary, who in 1989 cofounded WaterMark, a small publishing company in Birmingham, Ala., and had previously been a library sales rep for Doubleday, followed the advice of some librarian friends. ‘They suggested that I consider reprinting some of Margaret Wise Brown’s out-of-print works, and I decided to contact the author’s sister, Roberta Rauch, about that possibility,’ said Gary. In 1990, she visited Rauch’s Vermont home for what proved to be a propitious meeting.”

The New Yorker: The Lion and the Mouse — “In the first half of the twentieth century, no one wielded more power in the field of children’s literature than Moore, a librarian in a city of publishers. She never lacked for an opinion. ‘Dull in a new way,’ she labelled books that she despised. When, in 1938, William R. Scott brought her copies of his press’s new books, tricked out with pop-ups and bells and buttons, Moore snapped, ‘Truck! Mr. Scott. They are truck!'”

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