Children’s literature has long been a treasured category of literature. Adults fondly remember classics such as The Cat in the Hat, The Little Prince, Charlotte’s Web, The Secret Garden, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Parents share these titles with their children, and children learn to read with these beloved titles. In the past, however, such titles did not always feature the most positive depictions of all children, or simply didn’t include a wide variety of children at all.
Today, children’s literature has expanded to include more representation. We see positive, accurate depictions of children of color, children of various economic classes and ability, children with blended, single, and LGBTQ+ families and identities, and children who speak English as a second language, and are bi-cultural. These books have merit not only because of this representation, but because of the quality prose, values, and illustrations.
For this project, I have chosen to explore newer children’s titles that exemplify this excellent trend in inclusion. While there are many favorite books from my childhood that I’d like to include, I took this assignment as an opportunity to read books that may better meet the needs of my patrons in the public library. This is not to suggest that classic titles are out of touch, just that there are many newer titles worth inclusion in a collection.
I have chosen fifty print materials and thirty non-print materials that, based on my research and use, and often based on the opinions of the children I encounter in my work, I believe should be included in a public library’s collection. I have also explored an excellent illustrator, Julie Flett, and learned about her background, technique, and style. In conducting this project, it is my goal to:
Develop a better understanding and appreciation for children’s literature;
Address the weak spots in my knowledge of children’s literature — children 8 and under;
Develop a working knowledge of diverse titles (ex: LGBTQ+ middle grade books, #OwnVoices books) that can be used for readers’ advisory, programming, and displays
Be able to identify style and technique in illustration, and understand how an artist’s background and cultural perspective may influence their art
It is my hope that by accomplishing these goals, I will better serve children and their families.