My biases in the children’s literature genre

Standard

As I mentioned yesterday, there are things I love and things I don’t in children’s books. Here are a few of these:

Don’t like:

  • Counting books (usually too didactic & repetitive)
  • Books that try to teach (colours, numbers, pretty much anything), particularly the authorless “educational” ones like Baby Einstein … shudder
  • Sarcasm and adult humour (so jading for children!)
  • Focusing on “are you good?”, punishments and/or “consequences” (Berenstein Bears books are bad for this) as these feel way too manipulative
  • Male-centric or non-gender equal texts (note: this doesn’t mean that every book needs a female carpenter or a working mother, but please, try to transcend gender stereotypes a bit. And write about girls: they have adventures too!)
  • When things have to fall apart too far (e.g., the first half of the book is a big fight) before they get better, and the getting better part isn’t very well-developed or long
  • Leveled reading books, with their corresponding lack of any literary value (some exceptions, notably the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems)
  • A good portion of computer-generated illustrations and some mixed media (nothing wrong with these, but I just don’t enjoy the juxtaposition, for example, of fabric samples with photos with computer art. Mo Willems & the Knuffle Bunny books are again an exception)

What I love:

  • Real art for the illustrations, in widely varying styles
  • Humour
  • Stories with a twist, imaginative adventures, and/or a focus on relationships, friendship & family
  • Stories about girls and women
  • Evocations of home and family

In summary: I love real stories, put together with care and skill, that see children as imaginative and discerning readers. I shy away from books that seem designed to manipulate children’s behaviour or act as disguised rote learning activities, put together on the quick and cheap.

Long live children’s literature!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s