Kidding Ourselves

The staff book group at Williamsburg Regional Library dedicated last week’s meeting to the classics of children’s literature. It was a great topic for a sun-distracted summer month. Normally, I recap each book that our librarians present at these meetings for Book Group Buzz readers, but this time we all read multiple books, so I’ll just list our choices. But you know many of these–see what kind of nostalgia this list creates for you:

Lloyd Alexander   The Chronicles of Prydaine

J. M. Barrie   Peter Pan

L. Frank Baum   The Patchwork Girl of Oz

Lina & Adelia Beard   The American Girls Handy Book

Judy Blume   Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Lewis Carroll   The Annotated Alice (annotations by Martin Gardner)


Eva Ibbotson   The Secret of Platform 13

Madeleine L’Engle   A Wrinkle in Time

Hugh Lofting   The Doctor Doolittle series

Maud Hart Lovelace   The Betsy-Tacy series

A. A. Milne  The Complete Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

L. M. Montgomery   Anne of Green Gables

Beatrix Potter   The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (and others)

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry   The Little Prince

Robert Louis Stevenson   Kidnapped

Jules Verne   Around the World in 80 Days

The discussion was spirited and illustrations make these books fun to pass around. Discussion topics ranged from the value of annotations to the joy of bringing home multiple versions of the same book so as to compare the illustrations; from accusations of racism against historical children’s titles to a reclassification of Winnie the Pooh as a gifted lateral thinker instead of silly and stupid.

The most intense discussion was about where many of these books should be shelved. Where do the Verne and the Stevenson live in your local libraries? What do you do with rather adult life philosophies like those of The Little Prince when they are disguised as a gentle children’s fable? Do these classics live in the same space as current children’s titles, or since adults may read them even more often, do they belong in a special nostalgia corner?

Everyone agreed that children’s classics made rewarding reading for us still as adults, whether we were returning to an old friend or discovering a classic for the first time.



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

1 Comment on "Kidding Ourselves"

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  1.' Arec says:

    I am re-reading the Chronicles of Prydain for the second time and I am 20 years old. I still loves the books. They just suck you in and leave you wanting more so that you never leave the world of Prydain.

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