Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why Children's Books Matter

This weekend, while in New York, I went to the New York Public Library exhibit The ABC Of It: Why Children's Books Matter.

The exhibit is free of charge and runs from June 21st, 2013 thru March 23rd, 2014.

If you love children's books, you'll love this exhibit of over 250 literary artifacts.

From Harry Potter to Charlotte's Web, from Good Night Moon to The Phantom Tollbooth, children's books are an amazing romp between fantasy and reality.

Once you've experienced the exhibit, you will leave with your own answer to Why Children's Books Matter. 

Spoiler Alert… it has everything to do with a shared understanding of what growing up is all about.

Raising a Ruckus
Children's books have often served as lightning rods for controversy, with topics considered taboo - death, race, and sex chief among them - and notions of child-appropriateness triggering sharp debate and vigorous efforts to limit or bar access to certain books. While acts of censorship are often driven by overt political or cultural agendas, other, more ambiguous cases blur the line between blatant suppression and well-intentioned editorial - or parental - judgement.
In the United States, censorship has typically been instigated by self-appointed gatekeepers, not centralized governmental authorities. Cold War-era authors Garth Williams, Madeline L'Engle, Maurice Sendak, and Judy Bloom saw their popular books routinely challenged, primarily by fundamentalist religious groups. Nearly a century before, Mark Twain had divined an upside to such pious literary witch-hunts. When informed that the Concord, Massachusetts, public library had "expelled" Huckleberry Finn from its shelves, deeming it "trash", Twain crowed to his publisher, "That will sell 25,000 copies for us sure."

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