Books on Children’s Books

I am pleased to announce that last night was my very last first grad school class (of this degree program. Who knows what the future may bring – PhD perhaps?). “The History of Publishing” taught by the venerable Anita Silvey will be my final M.F.A. course (other than my mentorship, of course, but more on that in another post). This is the course where I get to explore what makes the children’s book industry tick – where it came from and how that impacts where it’s going today.

To this end, we’re using Leonard Marcus’s Minders of Make Believe as a course book. It is a delightfully chatty book all about the delicious gossip of how children’s publishing came to be. I’ve just finished reading about the 1920s, when children’s publishing first began in America. It’s fascinating! I want to be those pioneering women!

Minders of Make Believe made me think about all the “books on children’s books” that I’ve seen in my time, and made we want to discover more. Here is an abbreviated list of some books that are not only interesting to me personally, but could serve as resources to anyone in the children’s book industry. Or hey, maybe, like me, you just want to know more about children’s books!

Books on the field of children’s literature:
Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter
by Seth Lerer

Paperback: 9780226473017, University of Chicago, $19

Minders of Make Believe:Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children’s Literature
by Leonard Ma
Hardcover: 9780395674079, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28

Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way
by Leonard Marcus, foreward by Eric Carle

Hardcover: 9780375829963, Golden Books (Random House), $40

Books on children‘s book art and its creators:
Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children about Their Art
edited by Patricia Lee Gauch, David Briggs, Courtenay Palmer, Kiffin Steurer, designed by Semadr Megged
Hardcover: 9780399246005, Philomel (Penguin), $30

Pass It Down: Five Picture Book Families Make Their Mark
by Leonard Marcus
Hardcover: 9780802796004, Walker & Co., $19.95

Play Pen: New Children’s Book Illustration
by Martin Salisbury

Paperback: 9781856695244, National Book Network, $40

Show & Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration
by Dilys Evans

Hardcover: 9780811849715, Chronicle Books, $24.99

Side by Side: Five Favorite Picture-Book Teams Go to Work
by L
eonard Marcus
Paperback: 9780802796165, Walker & Co., $11.95

Books on children’s book people:

The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators
edited by Anita Silvey
Paperback: 9780618190829, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.95

Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy
by Leonard Marcus

Hardcover: 9780763632540, Candlewick Press, $21.99

Making Mischief: A Maurice Sendak Appreciation
by Gregory Maguire

Hardcover: 9780061689161, William Morrow & Co., $27.50

The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel
by Charles Cohen
ver: 9780375822483, Random House, $35

The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy compiled
by Leonard Marcus

Paperback: 9780763645564, Candlewick Press, $14.99

Books on children’s books awards (and the people who won them):

Winning Authors: Profiles of the Newbery Medalists
by Kathleen Lo
ng Bostrom
Hardcover: 9781563088773, Greenwood Publishing Group, $60

A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal
by Leonard Marcus
Hardcover: 9780802797032, Walker & Co., $19.95

Children’s book treasuries with supplemental material:

Corduroy and Company: A Don Freeman Treasury
by D
on Freeman, introduction by Leonard Marcus
Hardcover: 9780670035106, Viking (Penguin), $25

George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall, foreward by Maurice Sendak, afterward by Anita Silvey
, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25

Keats’s Neighborhood: An Ezra Jack Keats Treasury by Ezra Jack Keats, introduction by Anita Silvey
over: 9780670035861, Viking (Penguin), $27

Books of children’s book lists:

100 Best Books for Children:
A Parent’s Guide to Making the Right Choices fo
r Your Young Reader, Toddler to Preteen
by Anita Silvey
Paperback: 9780618618774, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $9.95

500 Great Books for Teens
by Anita Silvey
Hardcover: 9780618612963, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26

For something a little different:
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life
edited by Anita Silvey
Hardcover: 9781596433953, Roaring Book Press

Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature
edited by Julia Mickenberg, Philip Nel, foreward by Jack Zipes

Hardcover: 9780814757208, New York University Press, $32.95

Out-of-Print books on children’s books and their creators:
Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book
by Leonard Marcus
Hardcover: 9780525464907, Dutton (Penguin)

The Newbery and Caldecott Books in the Classroom
by Claudette Comfort, designed by Sherri Lewis
9780865301788, Incentive Publications

3 thoughts on “Books on Children’s Books

  1. Zoe, I hate to show my prejudice, but the one reason I didn't add that book to my list is that I highly disagree that the Twilight series is one you MUST READ BEFORE YOU GROW UP. I've read them myself, and can't deny that I enjoyed bits and pieces here and there, but overall I don't think they hold up to the quality of writing exhibited by the sort of books I believe one MUST Read Before They Grow Up. It's a sad case of "one thing ruining it for the rest of us". But overall, it was fascinating to see which books were chosen.Also, one last point, a lot of those books are out of print and/or published in a language other than English. I full support books of both those ilk, but question their inclusion in a book for primarily American-English-speaking parents who are probably searching for books they can actually get their hands on. So, again, while interesting to see the choices, I'm not sure it works for the general audience.But that's just my two (or maybe three or four in this case!) cents.

  2. Hi Rebecca,As my kids are only 5 and 1 and I'm only gradually working my way through the book I hadn't found the inclusion of the Twilight series. I haven't read any of the series so I can't comment on their literary merit, but I take your point. And then funnily enough your second point was actually a plus in my eyes – the book has brought lots of new books to attention that I have never heard of. Yes it is certainly frustrating not being able to get hold of books that sound great but for me this downside is outweighed by discovering new delights as lots of stuff IS available, even if second hand, and translated.Maybe it's not the 1st book you should turn to for new reading ideas, but I think it's still a good one to have to dip in to if you want to move away from the usual suspects.Anyway, I've linked to this post today – I've a post about picture books on the theme of art, selected by author and illustrator Sallie Wolf, and I've mentioned in particular your list of books on illustration in kids' books. Thanks for all these lists – a great resource indeed.

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