While meandering through the Birmingham farmers market several weeks ago, my oldest and I stumbled upon a stall with a local author and illustrator. She had created a children’s book about Birmingham and I was immediately drawn to it’s vibrantly painted pictures. I decided to pick up a copy and ended up reading it for the first time with my sons before naptime. As we were reading, I realized that the book did not shy away from Birmingham’s packed racial history. I knew most of this was over my 3 year old’s head, but I saw a few flickers of understanding and processing in my 5 year old. After we finished, my 5 year old asked to if he could look through the book on his own.
Do you ever think “I totally could have written that” after reading a children’s book? I know I have! But then I tired to write one for my Master’s Project and GOODNESS GRAY it was tough. Probably one of the hardest things I’ve completed in my academic career.
There are so many different components that go into a quality piece of children’s literature. Even though a 18 page picture book seems simple, there is A LOT of thought behind every detail. It’s hard to know and appreciate the complexities of what constitutes good children’s literature, and even harder to determine which books represent quality children’s lit. Therefore, I often refer to my favorite book lists to help guide me. I certainly don’t think every book you read to your child has be awarding-winning literature – believe me, we read a lot of books just for kicks. But I do think it’s important to read your child a balanced diet of children’s literature. The good stuff helps expose them to more thought-provoking and stimulating content matter.