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Tonight the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will present the winners of its prestigious Carle Honors. One recipient is selected in each of four categories: Artist, Angel, Mentor and Bridge.

 

I asked the honorees to answer one important question about the state of our craft and business, and I hope to elicit more responses from attendees this evening.

Children’s literature has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the last few years (as if people are rediscovering an art form that never faded away). What in particular makes picture books more relevant today than ever before?


Ed Young, Artist

Shadows dancing on cave walls by the crackling fire pit where an oral story is told under a starry sky….

Fast forward to a lone finger sliding make believe pages on a tiny screen where words and pictures are viewed in silence in pre-ordered sequences.

Yes, progress indeed has been made in the secured comfort of a home where everything is convenient and predictable. But at what price? Meanwhile, the heart is lost.

I came to America to learn making shelters for physical people, unwittingly ending by creating sanctuaries for impoverished inner ones.

Paper picture books are tiny lights in an increasingly dark and dehumanizing world of robots. Institutions like the free libraries and Eric Carle Museum provide refuge to keep those lights alive and thriving.

They keep us connected.


Dr. John Y. Cole, Angel
Historian, Library of Congress

The versatile and vibrant picture book has become an increasingly important part of the basic fabric of the Library of Congress annual National Book Festival. Since the first festival on September 8, 2001, dozens of picture book authors and illustrators have spoken directly to audiences, young and old; Eric Carle himself was featured in 2002 in one of the two pavilions for children and young adults. In 2004 children’s illustrator Floyd Cooper designed the cover of the festival’s printed program, inaugurating a tradition of featuring a well-known artist each year. A “Picture Book” pavilion in 2014 highlighted 11 writers and illustrators; in 2015 the number climbed to 16. Roz Chast was the featured artist at the 2017 festival; another popular favorite was graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, who also has served as the Library’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the past two years.

 
Bank Street Writers Lab, Mentor
Represented by Dr. Cynthia Weill, Director of the Center for Children’s Literature

My sense is that there are several reasons for the rebirth of children’s books and their relevance in the world.

Parents have realized that a picture book cannot be replaced with an e-book device. Young children need and want tactile experiences. They want to feel the pages of a book. They want to carry them. Young children may gnaw on a board book. It isn’t quite the same experience with a tablet.

Secondly, publishers are becoming more attuned to diverse writers and the point of views and experiences they can share. This helps more children to see themselves in the pages of a book and ultimately to want to read.

Thirdly, parents and educators are also more aware that children must be exposed to someone else’s experiences to grow. There is more encouragement to read books outside of one’s own reality.

Finally, publishers are now able to offer more timely subject matter on issues such as refugees, protest and the environment. These books help parents and teachers help children make sense of the world at a time when it is very necessary.

The fourth honoree is Anthea Bell in the Bridge Category, for translating foreign children’s books into English. She will be represented at the Awards this evening by her son, Oliver Kamm.

To learn more about The Carle Honors, please visit The Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Bid TODAY on original art to benefit the museum. Find treasures by Sandra Boynton, Mo Willems, Laurie Keller, Mike Curato and many more celebrated illustrators at 501auctions.com.

Bidding ends tonight at the awards but absentee bids are accepted via the 501auctions website!

 

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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