Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Another One Of Those Opinion Pieces About Children's Books

Suad Kamardeen @Unsplash
Every couple of years, some mainstream magazine publishes an article trashing children's literature and creating hysteria in the children's literature world. This has been going on a long time, and I gave up responding to them, (and sometimes even reading them) a long time ago, because I felt I was being manipulated. The publishers of these things wanted me all huffy and talking about them, to create buzz for their publications. I don't like just mindlessly giving people what they want.

But here I go, anyway.

This morning, Google News carried in a section labeled "For You" a link to Are There Any Kids Books Out There That Are...Actually Good? by Kathryn Jezer-Morton, which was published Monday at New York Magazine's The Cut.  Jezer-Morton may not have been responsible for the click-bait title. Another one might have made the whole essay hang together better. And I'm not going to argue with her content. What she thinks is bad...what she thinks is

What I'm struggling with is the essay, itself.

She may be using some kind of classic writing format that I'm just not a fan of--knocking down A to build up B. Yeah, I do think that's a thing. She spends a lot of space objecting to a number of titles she appears to be familiar with before she gets to a shorter portion where she concludes SPOILER yes, there are books out there that are actually good. But it doesn't sound as if she's read them. She knows they exist because she asked librarians, and they told her so. She doesn't even name any of the titles of the good books. She links to a list of them that she created. 

What Does It All Mean, Gail?

I'm not sure what to take away from this essay. 

  • I'm definitely not accepting that the books she doesn't care for are bad or the books the librarians recommended are good, because anyone who has read here much knows I'm never going to do that.
  • I keep wondering how could this essay have been written in a more meaningful, but still short, way? Maybe just stick to a piece about her frustration with her kids' reading, which may have been the initial inspiration? Waited until she'd read some of the so-called good books so she could form an opinion about them herself and not just tell us librarians say they're good? Do a little compare and contrast between a book from part A and a book from part B?
  • What I really want to see now is an opinion piece trashing adult books, en masse, the way we get these pieces trashing children's books, en masse. They may be out there, and I just don't hear about them, because adult books don't seem to get people fired up the way kids' books do.


A few of my Facebook friends have books on Jezer-Morton's list of good books. Hurray!


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