On this glorious Saturday, I had the afternoon free, and what better way to spend it than at the New York Public Library?
The ABC of It exhibit draws from 250 items in the New York Public Library collection, spanning a period of 300 years, as it shows us in a particularly powerful way “Why Children’s Books Matter.”
It looks at some of the earliest books for children, including the New England-Primer, first published in 1690, to Aesop’s Fables and selections from Songs of Innocence by William Blake, as it works its way to the present day.
The New England-Primer
Of particular interest to me was how the development of child psychology in 1900 helped inspire progressive educators, such as Lucy Sprague Mitchell at the Bank Street School, and writers, such as Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak and Crockett Johnson, to write “stories about the world [preschoolers] knew, as well as books that invited their playful, collaborative participation.” (Source: Exhibit Poster, The Work of Play: The Progressive Child.)
During my tour, the guide mentioned that Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, first published in 1947, was not included New York Public Library’s collection until 1972 because it was not considered literature. Isn’t that unbelievable?
The exhibit delved into topics of censorship, the influence of children’s literature on film, theatre and merchandising, the artistry of the picture book, and the exhibit concluded with a look at New York stories.
The New York Public Library offers free 45-minute tours. For information about tours and the exhibit, please click here.
On my tour, we had a lovely 10 month old, Abigail. Although she didn’t say much about the exhibit, she grabbed a copy of Goodnight Moon and started to chew on the book. I’m assuming that was her way of saying she liked it.
I highly recommend the exhibit. The exhibit runs through Sunday, September 7, 2014.