by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
This fall is the 75th anniversary of Little Golden Books, those inexpensive, golden-spined classics of all of our childhoods. On Tuesday, September 19, the Litchfield Library will be hosting a presentation on the history of Little Golden Books. At 6 p.m., collector Ellen Radel will share her extensive knowledge of these special children’s books, show us her collection and read one of her favorite Little Golden Books. She will have some books available for sale at the end.
If this date doesn’t work for your schedule, you can catch Ellen at the Dassel History Center on Sunday, September 10, at 3 p.m., or at the Hutchinson Library at 6:30 p.m. on September 26, among other Pioneerland libraries that are hosting programs.
Even as adults, we can enjoy children’s books. In the new book Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, author Bruce Handy examines classic children’s books. Handy is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine and was nominated for an Emmy in the ‘90s for writing for Saturday Night Live. He researched the classic children’s books he read to his kids, such as Goodnight Moon, Charlotte’s Web, and The Cat in the Hat. In this book he shares perspectives on how we see these books differently as adults than we did when we were children ourselves. Do you love the artwork of Beatrix Potter or Maurice Sendak? Do you agree with Handy that Ramona the Pest is as iconic an American character as Tom Sawyer or Jay Gatsby? (I do.) Reviewers say this book is a pleasure to read, with plenty of humor, and it’s an interesting look at the history and significance of our favorite children’s books.
Speaking of Goodnight Moon, we have a new biography of its author. In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary shows that Brown was very different than the quiet classic she’s famous for. She began writing children’s books for a school, with a mission to create stories that were more than fairy tales and that had gender equality in mind. Brown prepared for her writing by doing things children would do: picking daisies, watching the clouds, and otherwise observing nature so that she could capture a child’s sense of wonder. Her approach to writing changed the children’s publishing business. She also lived an adventurous, bohemian life: as NPR put it, she was no old lady whispering hush.
The editor of the New York Times Book Review, Pamela Paul, has a new book out called My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues. Paul has kept a notebook all her life called her book of books, or “Bob” for short, which lists all of the books she has read. The first chapter is called “Brave New World: You Shouldn’t Be Reading That.” In it, Paul describes what it was like to be a bookworm when she was growing up, and she talks about her adventures in the library, checking out things she was proud of reading, like “Little Women,” and things she was embarrassed about, like Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume books. She eventually realized the librarians weren’t judging her. Paul’s memoir should appeal to people who love books and like to think about how the books we read are a part of our lives.
It can be really fun to revisit classic children’s books, whether you’re reading them to your children or grandchildren or just going back to enjoy something on your own. Did you love The Poky Little Puppy or The Monster at the End of This Book? Come to our program on the history of Little Golden Books at one of the local libraries and enjoy the nostalgia.