The Newbery at 75: Changing with the Times
Sutherland, Zena, American Libraries
PEER INTO THE LOOKING GLASS OF CHILDREN'S BELLES-LETTRES AND SEE A REFLECTION OF JURORS' EVOLVING MORES
All the ingredients were there in 1918 when World War I ended. The audience for children's books had been spurred by new Carnegie-endowed libraries, many with separate rooms for children's services. A growing number of those rooms had librarians trained for just such services. Led by Macmillan, many publishers established separate children's-book departments. There was a groundswell of reviewing of children's books by specialists in the field.
The American Library Association gave enthusiastic support, especially in its Children's Librarians Section, which, after several name changes, is now the Association for Library Service to Children. As advocates of good books for children, their gratitude and ours go to such catalysts as the postwar triumvirate of Franklin Mathiews, Frederick Melcher, and Anne Carroll Moore. The two bookmen had approached Moore with a proposal for the establishment of a Children's Book Week in 1919, and pursuant thereto came the donation by Melcher of the Newbery Medal, named after British 18th-century children's book publisher John Newbery. It was, however, the children's librarians who chose the books to be honored.
It's a monumental task, one that is usually considered a pleasure and a privilege by those who are elected or appointed. It may have been easier in 1922, choosing that first Newbery winner. There were fewer books; in fact, between 1915 and 1945 the annual average of new titles was 713. Probably the librarians of that year felt, as we do now, the same sense of obligation to choose wisely. Probably they hoped, as we do today, that the children who read the award books would enjoy them. Almost certainly, they too were familiar with children's …
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Publication information: Article title: The Newbery at 75: Changing with the Times. Contributors: Sutherland, Zena - Author. Magazine title: American Libraries. Volume: 28. Issue: 3 Publication date: March 1997. Page number: 34+. © 1984 American Library Association. COPYRIGHT 1997 Gale Group.
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