Recently, my sons and I enjoyed the unique pleasure of losing ourselves for a few nights of bedtime reading in a compelling children’s book, Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker (2010). The book, a richly imagined historical novel set in 1914 Missouri, has as much to tell us about history, community, and early 20th century America as any I’ve read in recent years (while packing a serious supernatural punch at the same time). Sometimes we literary scholars or critics treat children’s books as, if not less serious than adult writing (and often it is this as well), then at least entirely distinct from such works. Whereas the truth, to my mind, is that all books are on a shared spectrum, both of greatness and of what we can learn from them about both our own lives and our broader communities.
So for this post, I wanted to highlight five other great children’s books, and to think a bit about what each can teach us:
I’m so glad that there is a place at the American Writers Museum for children’s books, a vital and sometimes under-appreciated part of the American literary tradition!