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The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter

By March 22, 2019May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

The ABC of IT: Why Children’s Books Matter

The exhibit will be open Now – May 31, 2019. Hours correspond with regular Andersen Library building hours:

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesdays and Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

What Informs Our Work?

Who is Rudine Sims?

Rudine Sims Bishop

Rudine Sims Bishop is Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University, where she has taught courses on children’s literature. Her books include Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children’s Fiction (1982), Presenting Walter Dean Myers(1990), Kaleidoscope: A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K–8 (1994), Wonders: The Best Children’s Poems of Effie Lee Newsome (1999), and Free within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature (2007).


In Free Within Ourselves, Dr. Bishop takes the reader on a historical journey, from the earliest works written about African American children (W.E.B. DuBois’ The Brownies Book) to John Steptoe’s Stevie to the contemporary award-winning writer Christopher Paul Curtis and his Bud, Not Buddy, winner of both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.

Dr. Bishop has been recognized with numerous awards, including the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Outstanding Educator in English Language Arts Award and the Arbuthnot Award, and has been on the selection committees for both the Caldecott and Newbery Medals. Her life’s work has been built on the foundation “that all American children, but especially Black children, need to learn the story of African Americans’ struggle on the journey.” Read her essay Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.

In 2017, Dr. Bishop was awarded the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton.

An extensive interview can be found here


The ABC of IT: On Exhibit

Dark Day, Light Night Jan Carr; James Ransome, illustrator New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1995 8” x 10”

Dark Day, Light Night Jan Carr; James Ransome, illustrator, New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1995 8” x 10” original art: oil on paper, 15” x 10” Kerlan Collection, Children’s Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota Libraries

Children need to see themselves in their books. Rudine Sims Bishop, PhD, is one of the giants in children’s literature scholarship. Dr. Bishop developed the Mirror and Windows theory of book selection. Young readers need books that reflect their own lives and books that are windows into the lives, languages, and cultures of other children. Dr. Bishop has taught generations of caregivers, teachers, and librarians to read and think critically through the lenses of race and culture and to advocate for diversity in children’s book publishing.

original art: oil on paper, 15” x 10” Kerlan Collection, Children’s Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota Libraries

These Hands
Margaret H. Mason; Floyd Cooper, illustrator
Boston: HMCO, 2011

Floyd Cooper original art: oil erasure
Kerlan Collection, Children’s Literature Research Collections,
University of Minnesota Libraries


All Fall Down
Mary Brigid Barrett; LeUyen Pham, illustrator
Candlewick, 2014
6.8” x 7.1”
Kerlan Collection, Children’s Literature Research Collections,
University of Minnesota Libraries

original art: gauche Kerlan Collection, Children’s Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota Libraries

Things to Think About Series

The ABC of It: Things to Think About 2

The ABC of It: Things to Think About 3: Dr. Seuss

The ABC of It: Things to Think About 4: Caddie Woodlawn


Join the discussion One Comment

  • A Kay says:

    Free Within Ourselves was a splendid book that takes a critical and historical look at African American children’s literature. This has made me appreciate and desire to explore the genre more.

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