If you want to learn more about children’s books and authors or if you are looking for books about the history of children’s literature, you can’t go wrong with Leonard Marcus. You may have heard about the exhibition he’s curating at the NYPL - “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” If not, you can read about it here.
The Children’s Department at CLP has many of Marcus’s books in our circulating and in our Children’s Literature Special Collection. Here are five of my favorites:
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom (1998). Nordstrom nurtured the careers of many early writers and illustrators of children’s books. She had a keen eye for talent and an abundance of wit that comes through in her correspondence.
Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way (2007) brought back memories of my mother reading Tawny Scrawny Lion to me. A couple of years later, illustrator Gustaf Tenggren’s depiction of the forest of angry trees in Disney’s film version of Snow White drove me under the theater seat.
Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon(1992). Goodnight Moon is a favorite gift for new babies and their parents. Marcus’s well-researched biography of the book’s writer reveals the professional and personal life of one of the pioneers of the American picture book.
Minders of Make Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children’s Literature (2008). A good overview of books for children from colonial America to primers to the Harry Potter phenomenon.
Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter (2012). In the introduction to the book Marcus reminds us that “The first art that children see is in picture books.” He interviewed 21 picture book illustrators to get to the heart of their art.
Check the catalog for more books by Leonard Marcus.