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The ABC Of It: Why Children’s Books Matter

By November 16, 2018May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter publishes February 1, 2019. This volume is full color, 240 pages is a companion to the physical exhibit that open February 11, 2019 at the Elmer L. Andersen Library on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank, Twin Cities Campus.

Cover of the the Book The ABC of It: Title framed in red with squares of children's book illustrations on the border.

Advance Praise for The ABC of It- the book.

“A feast for the eye, The ABC of It is a testimony to the long history and continuing cultural impact of children’s literature. Leonard Marcus’s expert narration blends seamlessly with the story told through original artwork from the Kerlan Collection, making the book a perfectly accessible, visually stunning resource. It will be cherished by those who delight in children’s literature and will open the eyes of those who thought books for children are a ‘childish’ enterprise.”
Marek C. Oziewicz, Ph.D., D.Litt.
Sidney and Marguerite Henry Professor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature 
Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities


Leonard Marcus standing in the front of The ABC of It original show at NYPL

When I first entered The ABC of It at The New York Public Library, I was wonderstruck.

The phrase that came to mind was “we stand on the shoulders of giants.”

I have had a lifetime exploring children’s books, first as a bookseller, then as a publishing assistant, then as a public librarian, a school librarian, an instructor of teachers, and now the curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections. I have read widely about children’s books and story. I could fill these pages with the names of those who had mentored me in how to read, see, and critically think about children’s books and their creators.

Yet it was The ABC of It, an adventure park experience of children’s literature, that placed all that I knew in fresh context, the Why. Why these volumes, these stories, these creators all mattered in my education, my teaching and my living.

Many who read this volume might not know two important facts about the Archives and Special Collections of the University of Minnesota Libraries.

First, the majority of the materials held in the Children’s Literature Research Collections are generously donated by the writers and artists for research and education.

A screenshot of our finding aid letter C. with links to the collections

Second, the University of Minnesota is an open access institution that welcomes all visitors to our collections.

Black and white horizontal photograph of landscape ground one quarter from the bottom with a gate freestanding in the middle with a sign one third from the top in capital letters, University Farm.

I just love this picture from the University of Minnesota Archives.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting preview images and words of the upcoming exhibit and excerpts from the the companion book. Enjoy.

To refresh here is the Why

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