Docent Reflections on The ABC of It

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"A great lifelong learning expereince. So thankful for all I have learned from this 18 month experience. So many people have witnessed this exhibit from so many different perspectives and lenses. What a gift!" - Mary Schultz, Project Director

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"It has been a priviledge and honor to serve as a docent. It was intriguing and informative watching the process for designing this display in meticulous detail."

"The exhibit walked through the ways that children's literature reflected the ways that society historically regarded children and highlighted librarians, authors, publishers, and social scientists who all influenced the types of books that were avaliable for the entertainment and education of children. It was an exciting platform for people to experience the depth and breadth of the collections of the CLRC."

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"Opening night was most enjoyable. Leonard S. Marcus was engaging. I frequently shared on my tours the story Mr. Marcus told about a little boy wanting to share his dinner with his copy of Little Fur Family."

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"In three and a half months, I gave tours to dozens of people. Some were strangers, some were friends, but all were deeply interested in the subject and the stories that I told about the items that were exhibited."

Things to Think About

"Participants agreed it's important to talk about classics with a critical eye to the language and imagery used by the authors whose work reflected white ideas of their time. We shared observations, reflected on the Marcus text, and delved deeply into the issues raised by the 'Think About It' panels."

Dr. Seuss Things to Think About

Curious George Things to Think About

Little Black Sambo Things to Think About

LGBT Things to Think About

Intellectual Freedom Things to Think About

The Secret Garden Things to Think About

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The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter is an exhibit, a book, and a digital teaching resource.

The ABC of It originated at The New York Public Library in 2013 and ran for fourteen months. Curator and historian Leonard S. Marcus, author of over twenty-eight books about children's literature and creators of children's books, selected materials held in The New York Public Library to make connections between children's books and the other works found in the NYPL collections. 

Here at the Children's Literature Research Collections, our process was reversed. We took Leonard S. Marcus's observations and insights, then matched them with selected books, manuscripts, and art from the Kerlan Collection. 

The ABC of It is not a history of children's literature. It is an opportunity to explore and celebrate the generous gift of books, manuscripts, and original art Dr. kerlan gave the University of Minnesota 70 years ago, as well as the materials collected by the curators.

Walking Through the gallery space, we hope you are not only reflecting through the lens of one historian but are also thinking critically about the titles and the work displayed. Whose stories are being told? Do you agree or disagree with Leonard S. Marcus's words? What books are missing that you wish were here? What surprised you about the exhibit? Positive or negative? We grow and learn through active reading and response.

Things to Think About

There is a yellow-banded signage throughout the exhibit containing quotes and recommended readings to help you think more deeply about children's books and our society.

The "Further Readings in Topics in Children's Literature: A Selected Bibliography" (available in the literature rack on the 2nd and 3rd floors, and online at the Blue Ox Review) lists resources that speak to children's books and racism, sexism, ableism, and dominant white culture.

Lisa Von Drasek, curator, Children's Literature Research Collections.

"The video produced on the reading of Goodnight Moon was so well done. It brings tears to my eyes, every time I view it."