1992: Evaluating Children's Books: A Critical Look


Allerton Park Institute Proceedings (no. 34, 1992); Edited by Betsy Hearne and Roger Sutton

Juvenile publishing is in an unprecedented success cycle, which causes, ironically, unprecedented problems for creators, reviewers, and consumers of children's books. A popularized market has dictated more quantity and less quality control than ever before. Financial bonanzas have generated more glitz and less durability. Librarians, teachers, and reviewers come close to being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and by the subsequent pressure to make choices quickly but effectively. Yet the process of evaluating a book takes just as long as it used to. The process of reading a book to a child takes just as long as it used to. And balancing a book budget takes a lot longer.

Selection now implies more selectivity than in any other time in the history of children's literature. In children's literature, selection depends primarily on reviews. Few professionals have access to examination centers that receive all the juvenile books published every year. Reviewing at every level, from the published journal to the list annotated by a librarian or school library staff, is more basic to this field than it is to any other. We are too new to have established a traditional canon, a Pulitzer Prize, a reliable best-seller list, or even a steady foothold of attention in the media. Yet children's literature has always been central to children's librarianship, and it has become, commendably, more central for teaching children in public and private schools. Evaluation is central to children's literature, and evaluation is most often evinced in reviews.

The complete text of the Institute is available here as well as the individual papers. The papers included here are:

The Proceedings of the Allerton Park Institute have been digitized through the Open Content Alliance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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