Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'tis the season

As the holiday gift-giving season approaches, articles about children's books to give and receive are sure to start turning up. An early entry is this one by Joseph Bottum in First Things (I got the link from Neil Gaiman's blog), which I expect to see discussed in the kidlitosphere or on the child_lit listserv pretty soon.

I don't at all disagree that this is a golden age of sorts for children's literature, and I like his idea that we read some books (the Harry Potter series, for example) simply because others read them. Or as Bottum puts it: "their sharedness has become their most important quality." While I disagree with his judgements about certain books (Winnie the Pooh, Little Women, Summerland) I'm enjoying thinking about how living in a certain cultural moment can make good writers better. Is this what happened around the turn of the 18th-19th centuries with the Romantic poets, perhaps?

I'm also just delighted to see someone else sing the praises of My Family and Other Animals, a book I loved while growing up and should really read again. We've been talking on the child_lit listserv lately about our favorite childhood reading, and that's one I'd forgotten to mention. But I adored it at the time.


  1. Yes! I agree, we are living in a wonderful moment in time and I believe the New Golden Age for books is just beginning. How exciting!

  2. Certainly the popularity of Meyer's Twilight series can only be explained by the excitement of sharedness...