Last night I attended a lecture by Seth Lerer, Professor of English at Stanford University, on Children's Literature.
He explored the iconic books, ancient and contemporary alike, that have forged a lifelong love of literature in young readers during their formative years.
His book, Children's Literature, charts the makings of the Western literary imagination from Aesop's fables to Mother Goose, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Peter Pan, from Where the Wild Things Are to Harry Potter. In his lively lecture Professor Lerer connected the current Newberry exhibit, Artifacts of Childhood, with his observations on the changing environments of family life and human growth, schooling and scholarship, and publishing and politics in which children found themselves changed by the books they read. The references to literature of childhood over the ages, many of which I was unaware of, were made fascinating by his witty, yet scholarly, observations. I look forward to reading his book.
Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer. University of Chicago Press, 2008.