Monday, July 22, 2013

Children's Book Exhibitions

From "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter"
Hello! This blog has been quiet for the past two weeks while I was on vacation and I hope you have all been enjoying the long days of summer, taking time to refresh your souls, feed your imaginations, and rest. There are still a few weeks of summer break for most of us and in celebration of this, I thought it would be fitting to share about an exhibition currently on at the New York Public Library. 
"The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter" looks amazing! Featuring rare and curious items from the library's enviable and extensive collection, visitors are able to peek into the history of children's book publishing, view relics from the past, even interact with a life-sized recreation of the bedroom in Goodnight Moon! This looks like a great stop for families as many of the exhibits are child-friendly and admission is free! The exhibition is described as:
The ABC of It is an examination of why children’s books are important: what and how they teach children, and what they reveal about the societies that produced them. Through a dynamic array of objects and activities, the exhibition celebrates the extraordinary richness, artistry, and diversity of children’s literature across cultures and time.
Our first books stir and shape us as few books ever again can. Goodnight MoonAlice in WonderlandA Wrinkle in Time! For three centuries and more, books made especially with the young in mind have served as indispensible gateways to literature, art, and knowledge of the world. And if, as adults, we find that our own childhood favorites remain as thrilling or funny or heart-stoppingly beautiful as ever, we should not be surprised. As W. H. Auden wisely observed: “There are no good books which are only for children.”
Today’s brightly packaged, increasingly globalized books for young people have complex roots in world folklore, Enlightenment philosophy, nationalist fervor, and the pictorial narrative traditions of Asian and Western art, among other sources. Collectively, they form a vivid record of literate society’s changing hopes and dreams, and of the never-ending challenge of communicating with young readers in the most compelling possible way.The ABC of It draws on collections across the Library to present the literature for children and teens against a sweeping backdrop of history, the arts, popular culture, and technological change. The books and related objects on view reveal hidden historical contexts and connections and invite second looks and fresh discoveries. They suggest that books for young people have stories to tell us about ourselves, and are rarely as simple as they seem.

Doesn't that sound fascinating?!? Here's a write-up from The Atlantic on the exhibition and it is definitely worth reading. I absolutely love the quote from the curator at the end of the article: "So to the list of reasons why children's books matter, add the way that they reflect the times they were created in. 'They are the message-in-a-bottle that each generation tosses out to the next generation,' Marcus says, 'the record of one generation's hopes and dreams for the next.'"

I don't think I'll have a chance to visit before the exhibit closes in March, but if any of you do, please let me know what you thought! Here's the essentials for planning your visit:

New York Public Library
5th Avenue and 42nd Street
202.869.8089 or
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday-Saturday
11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
Open through March 23, 2014
Free admission

While researching this event, I stumbled upon a blog that also listed other children's oriented book events and thought I'd list a few of them here. 

In Washington, DC you can visit an exhibit devoted to the Little Golden Books! An avid collector as a child, this would be so much fun to see!

LITTLE GOLDEN BOOKS at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Exhibition Description: "Little Golden Books transformed children’s reading habits in the early 20th century. Prior to World War II, large-format, classic story books for children were prohibitively expensive and available to a privileged few. Little Golden Books offered new ideas and modern stories in an affordable format.   The exhibit features a sampling of artist’s proofs from several early Little Golden Books."

Smithsonian National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, D.C., 20001
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas.
Free admission
For those unable to travel to DC, there is an online exhibition available. To view, click here.

A traveling exhibition on the history of children's book illustration is visiting several cities across the US in the next year and it looks fascinating.
Exhibition Description:
A good children’s picture book still has the power to whisk young minds off to another time and place—even in today’s world of computer games and high-definition TV. Draw Me a Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustration explores one hundred years of bold adventures, classic fairy tales, amazing animals, and imaginative ABCs, all seen through the eyes of forty-one artists who created works especially for children.
Originating from the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, California, Draw Me a Story presents 43 original works of art and 5–10 objects in a thematic and nostalgic trip through the history of children’s book illustrators and illustration techniques. The exhibition starts with artists Ralph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway—two of the most popular illustrators of the late nineteenth century, both of whom now have children’s literary awards named after them.
Twentieth century artists include innovators like W.W. Denslow, William Steig and Chris Van Allsburg. Styles featured in the exhibition range from the delicate watercolors of Kate Greenaway’s “Hush-a-bye baby,” to the evocative pen and ink visions of Edward Gorey. Draw Me a Story also explores the process of illustration and its evolution over time, from simple, traditional media to more experimental combinations of pen, pencil, paint, and ink."

Tour Details available here.

Do you know of any other book-related events our readers may enjoy? Please feel free to share in the comments section below. Happy exploring!

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