Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Books about Books

Anyone who has ever been to the CCBC knows the space isn’t vast. (We loved the vision of first-time visitor Margarita Engle on her trip here to accept the 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award for Drum Dream Girl:  “I pictured a whole building!” Wouldn’t that be nice?). 

But we try to make good use of the physical space we do have—a more expansive space since our move to a new home in the Teacher Education Building on the UW-Madison campus two summers ago. With that moved we gained not only work space we’d never had before (there are stories), but more shelf space, too.

Most of that shelf space is devoted to books published for children and teens—a Current Collection of the newly published books we receive for hands-on book examination by Wisconsin librarians and others; a curated Basic Collection of recommended books across years and decades that we draw on heavily in our work with education and library school students and Wisconsin teachers; a small Historical Collection.  But we also have a collection of books about books for children and teens; in CCBC parlance, our Reference Collection.

Among recent additions to our Reference Collection are:

The Newbery & Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books (ALA Editions, 2016). This edition’s timely introductory essay is “It’s All Political: Books, Awards, and Librarianship,” by 2016 Newbery Award Committee member Allie Jane Bruce, talking about things she’s encouraged by and things she hopes for as the Association for Library Service to Children (which administers the Newbery and Caldecott awards) and our profession as a whole address the challenges and responsibilities of providing culturally sensitive and culturally competent book evaluation and librarianship.

Excellent Books for Early and Eager Readers by Kathleen T. Isaacs (ALA Editions, 2016).  This is such a common question for librarians—what books can you suggest for a young child who is reading far beyond their age or grade?  Opening chapters discussing the characteristics of early readers and what makes a good book for early readers leads into the chapter-by-chapter genre suggestions which include both old favorites (Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White) and new classics (Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke).  

Picture This : How Pictures Work by Molly Bang. Revised and Expanded 25th Anniversary edition (Chronicle Books, 2016). With the first edition of this essential work out of print, I was thrilled to see this new edition. It is a striking and accessible look at visual literacy for both creators, including young artists, and those looking at art. This edition includes new content (e.g., a discussion of emotions in art using Bang’s picture book When Sophie Gets Angry…Really, Really Angry).

Robert McCloskey: A Private Life in Words and Pictures by Jane
McCloskey (Seapoint, 2011). If I had a coffee table, this book would be on it.  Robert McCloskey’s younger daughter, Jane, discusses her father’s life in a personal, conversational narrative accompanied by some of her father's sketches, paintings and illustrations. Although the artwork isn’t abundant—some page spreads are all text—the design is lovely and it’s the kind of book one can imagine getting lost in (in which case the nightstand might be a better place—but it’s a little large….)

These four new additions to the Reference Collection join many other books, from selection tools like Children’s Catalog to children’s and young adult  literature textbooks to numerous resources about multicultural literature, intellectual freedom, graphic novels, international literature, and more. From picture books to young adult literature, scholarly critiques to hands-on reading guidance, we try to build this relatively limited collection with the interest of assisting both researchers and library and education students and practitioners.  We’ve gone to online editions of a few resources, something being part of the university make technically easier, if no less costly.  But there is nothing quite like working on a reference question and being able to get up, go to the Reference shelves, and browse…

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