A recent New Yorker piece got me thinking about how we define “good” kidlit.
Using Goosebumps books as an example, the New Yorker author questions whether financial success, awards, psychological value, or popularity makes a book “good”–by which he means lasting, rereadable, culture-changing “literature.”
I found his discussion of “socially conscious” children’s books particularly interesting. There seems to be a resurgence in content-driven kids’ books with Important Messages for Children. Perhaps this trend is a long-overdue response to the lack of diversity in children’s literature.
Many of the books I’m reading lately are excellent: beautiful images, artistic language, powerful messages. I’m proud to share them with kids, and I’m glad the books are getting attention in the world of kidlit.
Of course, now I want more. I’m looking for books from diverse perspectives that aren’t explicitly about identity, race, or social status. I’m on a quest for science fiction, slipstream, fantasy, action, and humor that bucks the tradition of white, middle-class, cisgender, able-bodied characters as the norm.