What is The ABC of It?
The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter is a physical exhibit at the Elmer L. Andersen Library. For information about the exhibit, hours, and location go here
The original exhibit was at The New York Public Library. Children’s book historian Leonard S. Marcus, the author of over 28 books, was charged with selecting materials from the NYPL collections and creating content that linked those objects with history, educational theory, child development and art for an exhibit. (recent Publisher’s Weekly interview with Marcus here.)
That exhibit was so popular that it was extended twice, ran for over 14 months and had over 1/2 a million visitors.
At the University of Minnesota
We did not recreate the NYPL exhibit. We selected Leonard S. Marcus’s words from the NYPL case labels and we selected materials from the collections that would illustrate them. For example, Marcus discusses the making of picture books using Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats. The Kerlan Collection holds the original art, printer’s advance, manuscript and family photos. We were able to pair Marcus’ words with the Gág collection that we hold.
Sadly there was no catalogue the NYPL show meaning a loss of Leonard S. Marcus’ words. Visitors to the University of Minnesota The ABC of It will find a density of text accompanying the objects. A visitor would have to spend hours standing and reading and might not want or be able to, therefore there is a book physical (University of Minnesota Press) and an open access e-editions ( available here).
The physical book is available in bookstores and distributors as well as from the University of Minnesota Press. Here.
Is this a comprehensive history of children’s literature?
No. This is one scholar’s words and point-of-view limited by time, space and materials. There is so much more we would have wished to display and explicate.
If anyone has a copy of the Brownies’ Book please donate it to the Kerlan Collection. For more about the Brownies Book and its impact read “To Be Great, Heroic or Beautiful”: The Enduring Legacy of The Brownies’ Book by Dr. Jonda C. McNair and Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop in The Horn Book.(Here)
We have asked our visitors to think about what is contained in this exhibit, what is missing, what had they wished for? We are recording and saving these comments as they inform our work.
As we think about children’s books and their place in our lives, education and culture there are scholars and teachers who give us insight. (what informed the exhibit here )
This bibliography is on display on the 3rd and 2nd floor of the Andersen Library as well as copies of the articles lists. A PDF of the list here
We welcome groups
If you wish to bring a group of 10 or less, no need to let us know, just come and enjoy. For example, we have had many book groups choose a favorite from their childhood to discuss and recommend and then visit The ABC of It. We are open until 7 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
If you have a larger group or wish to schedule a visit accompanied by a docent please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office staff is available Monday through Friday 9 am to 4:30 pm. Our phone is 612-624-4576.
Things to Think About Series