Through researching children’s books and other materials for this assignment throughout the semester, I have come across a variety of excellent titles. Narrowing down the number of books I read for this project, including picture and board books, was difficult. Choosing the titles was a useful exercise in and of itself, as it forced me to determine what was the best of the best — what I’d want to make sure a child and her family had access to.
The titles I researched and chose helped me develop a better sense of the current trends in children’s books. Graphic novels are incredibly popular; there were many I wanted to include but didn’t have room for. Additionally, as discussed in my introduction, #OwnVoices and diverse books are entering the market and winning awards more than ever. It is becoming much more common and normal to see books like The Crossover or Harbor Me being making best-seller and/or award lists and being promoted by librarians and educators. Books featuring LGBTQ+ youth are also much more frequent (if also banned/challenged); George and Hurricane Child being examples of excellent titles targeting middle-grade readers. Children today are blessed with a growing variety of literature that reflects their lives and the world they will soon be entering as adolescents and adults. By reading these titles, I feel more confident in what I can recommend to children and their families, and what I can order for my library.
I have also been able to better appreciate the illustrations in children’s literature. With works such as Drawn Together, Dreamers, A Big Mooncake for Little Star, and Julián is a Mermaid, I have seen how gorgeous, skilled illustrations can complement and add to a narrative; at their best, they are inextricably tied to the text, adding their own meaning. By reading and exploring Julie Flett’s works and background, I have learned about artistic style and techniques, such as linework and how colors can set moods, and realized how much I personally love watercolor and gouache work. I have also learned how Flett interweaves her personal interest and identity, and community ties, into her work.
As someone who works primarily with tweens and teens, but is looking to also expand into children’s programming, I found this assignment to be particularly helpful in developing my readers’ advisory skills. I can recommend fun, serious, dreamy, educational, imaginative, and complex stories with a variety of protagonists. I have dozens and dozens of picture books I can now recommend, many of which couldn’t make it onto my official list here. I find that I have met one of my goals as mentioned in the introduction — to further my knowledge of literature for children under 8.
Ultimately, this has been a fun and enlightening project that I am confident will help me in my professional development and in my service to youth.
Thank you for reading!