Looking at Children’s Books with a Literary Eye

Thinking about children's books as pieces of literatureI was catching up on podcasts in the car this morning and a Slate Culture Gabfest from a few weeks ago caught my attention. Taking inspiration from a New York Times piece exploring Goodnight Moon from a writer’s perspective, they debate the merits of various children’s books (start at minute 31 for this segment) and what deep, thoughtful topics are woven into favorite books. For example, they mention a piece by David Plotz on the “meditations of the void” in an Elephant and Piggie book.

I’m a huge fan of children’s books, I started collecting LONG before I had children of my own (and even before I was a teacher). However, I rarely stop to think about what makes a children’s book great, beyond being enjoyable to read…even when it is the 80th or 1000th time.

Listen to the piece and tell me what you think. Does it ring true or do they seem like they are trying too hard to find meaning? I would also love to hear about some of your favorite children’s books and what you think makes them a great piece of literature!

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