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  • ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter
  • Jessica Brown
  • inspiration
ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter

If you live in New York or are at all interested in children's literature, you've probably heard about the New York Public Library's exhibition The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter. This week I finally got a moment to visit the exhibition and it was, as expected, beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Upon entering the exhibition, you're greeted by a wonderful quote by W. H. Auden: "There are no good books which are only for children." From there, each section is curated by themes such as Visions of Childhood, Raising a Ruckus, and Storied City: New York.

ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter entrance

Alice ABC of It

Installation ABC of It

Max installation ABC of It installation

ABC of It

Seeing Lewis Hine's Men at Work (first image below) book was a surprise to me. I always knew of these images, especially the iconic Empire State Building construction images, but I never knew that they were originally published as a children's book. Similarly, seeing the photographic work of Mary Steichen Martin and Edward Steichen in The First Picture Book (second image below) was a great surprise. Both of these books are great examples of how strong wordless picture books can be for little readers.

Men at Work ABC of It

The First Picture Book ABC of It

There was a good amount of diversity represented in terms of cultures, languages, and gender. Some of my favorites from the show: La calle es libre (The Streets Are Free) by Kurusa and Monika Doppert, Japanese Fairy Tales by T. Hasegawa, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Stevie by John Steptoe, The Poppy Seed Cakes by Margery Clark, Slovenly Peter, or Happy Tales and Funny Pictures by Heinrich Hoffmann, and Collages for "This Little Light of Mine" by Ashley Bryan.

La calle es libre ABC of It

Japanese Fairy Tales ABC of It

The Snowy Day ABC of It

The Snowy Day ABC of It

Stevie ABC of It

The Poppy Seed Cakes ABC of It

Slovenly Peter, or Happy Tales and Funny Pictures ABC of It

This Little Light of Mine ABC of It

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The show is up through September 7 and is definitely worth a look. Open hours and more info can be found on the NYPL's ABC of It website.

  • Jessica Brown
  • inspiration

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