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The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter

By January 10, 2019May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter

is an exhibit at the Elmer L. Andersen Library opening on February 11, 2019

(See all related events)

It is a reimagining of an exhibit originated at The New York Public Library.

AND it is a book being distributed by The University of Minnesota Press. To order your copy press here

Publisher’s Weekly interviewed Leonard S. Marcus and me about the exhibit this week and posted this great article. here.

And I am grateful but I hope people understand that one person does not a book, an exhibit, a teaching tool make.

Mary Schultz and JoAnn Jonas are the project managers. That means that they manage and coordinate all of the stuff that goes into making the exhibit, the book, and the digital tools. They also make sure that I stay on schedule. Not easy work.

The Team

Leonard S. Marcus visited Minnesota the summer of 2018 on the Hollinshead Fellowship. While he was here researching for  a book and curation of another exhibit, he was able to review all the books, manuscripts, and art that we gathered from our collection to support his words. 

We worked together with the team to weed out the extraneous and add what would be more illustrative. Sometimes that meant just substituting titles by the same illustrator and other times it meant editing out sections of the original show. We added our own “coda” of contemporary materials that supported the theme.

The Design

Our exhibit director, Darren Terpstra interprets the passion of our team for children’s literature and Leonard S. Marcus’ thesis into a physical embodiment. Open to the public is an event on March 20th in the Andersen Library where Mary Schultz, Darren Terpstra, and I will discuss the process of creation.

None of This Would Have Been Possible 

Without our project managers, volunteers, and interns. There are not enough words for how grateful we are to the interns and volunteers of the Children’s Literature Research Collections—Rebecca Brown, Lucy Comer, Lana Miller, Emma Peterson, Katie Retterath, Ellen Sugg, Joan Platt Broad, Jennifer M. Brown, Paula Singer (close reader extraordinaire)—and to the staff of the University of Minnesota Digital Services. 

We are grateful for the donations and sharing of images from JoAnn M. Jonas, LaurenStringer, Ellen A. Michelson, Paul O. Zelinsky, Melissa Sweet, David Weisner, JerryPinkney, Nick Bruel, The New York Public Library, The de Grummond Collection at theUniversity of Southern Mississippi, and The Free Library of Philadelphia.

Financial Support

Have you ever heard of Furthermore? 

Furthermore grants in publishing, a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, supports publication of nonfiction books that concern the arts, history, and the natural and built environment.

Linda Greve, Program Director for Community Outreach and Grants Coordinator helped me write my first grant at UMN. And we got it!


More Financial Support

The ABC of It would not be possible without the financial support of The Kerlan Friends, Karen Nelson Hoyle, PhD, Ellen A. Michelson, Norma and Bernard W. Gaffron, Suzanne Karr Schmidt, PhD, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, Fred and Patricia Erisman, Gerald P. Barnaby, Helen R. Goldsmith, Marilyn Hollinshead, JoAnn M. Jonas, John W. Stewig, the Lerner Foundation, E. Eugene Peterson, Paul G. Heller, Kirstine Barnaby, Carol J. Erdahl, the Edythe Miller Family Trust, and many anonymous donors.

To support the work of the Children’s Literature Research Collections, become a Kerlan Friend. /kerlan-friends.


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