The New York Public Library has just announced its list of 100 great children’s books from the past 100 years. You can check how many you’ve read while you introduce your children to new worlds.
The titles were selected by children’s librarians and come with an accompanying exhibit at the library on “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” As the curator Leonard Marcus puts it, “Viewed over time, children’s books are the collected memory of our hopes and dreams.”
There are plenty of familiar favorites like Harry Potter and Where the Wild Things Are along with some newcomers. Visit the library website for the full list and brief descriptions. You’ll discover many enduring and emerging trends in juvenile literature that help to define great children’s books:
Adults read them too: The exhibition opens with a quote from the poet W.H. Auden, “There are no good books only for children.” We all need a little advice on how to grow up.
Creatures help. The animal kingdom makes a strong showing from cats and dogs to one very hungry caterpillar.
Fantasy enthralls. Of course, The Hobbit makes the list along with Harry Potter.
Illustrations count. Illustrators often share credit with the author. Where would Winnie the Pooh be without A.A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard?
Diversity matters. These books span the world. Take Morning Sunflower for example about a child growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Moral training comes included. Important messages accompany the fun. As the Little Prince learned, you can only see clearly when you use your heart.
Scary stuff rules. Judy Blume could just as well be talking about the Brothers Grimm as her own works when she says, “’Books that are loved by children are often the books that scare adults.”
At ChildrensBookstore.com we know children’s books. Visit us for great finds and lively discussion of reading and education.