The Library of Congress recently issued a list of eighty-eight American books published between 1751 and 2002 that helped shape our nation. The list includes many children's classics, such as: Charlotte's Web, Farenheit 451, Goodnight Moon, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Library anticipated and hoped to prompt conversation, even debate. There's a survey on their site soliciting reader opinions. As a Floridian, I would add Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Yearling to the list. And as a former horse-obsessed child, Walter Farley's Black Stallion Series. The list seemed heavy in older classics, ignoring influential contemporary children's authors, specifically those writing for tweens and above, like Lowry, DiCamillo, Gaiman, Halse-Anderson, Blume and Cabot, to name a few. Maybe hindsight is needed to rate how those authors' books affect generations. More likely, the list is way too short.
I remember reading many of the classics in high school and college. Tampa Bay Times' book editor, Collette Bancroft, wrote an eloquent editorial addressing the book list last Sunday. She suggested that the classics remain relevant and deserve repeat readings, adding, "The best reason to read, or re-read, these books is that they are brilliant, engaging works of literature." As writers, that's a compelling call to study those who came before. For more of Collette's article, click here.
Check out the Library of Congress for the full list of books and leave your opinion.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor