Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Discovering Books that Shaped America

Week of August 26, 2012—A Canon of Picture Books
Tuesday, August 28—Discovering Books that Shaped America

A current exhibition at the Library of Congress (and online) features “Books that Shaped America.” The list includes familiar titles and ones that are lesser known, fiction and non-fiction, adult literature and children’s literature. “This list is a starting point,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.”

Don’t you love the idea of “a national conversation on books?” Perhaps we could call this list from the Library of Congress a canon of American literature. What I wish had been included in the exhibition and the many articles about it is the criterion for selecting the books. Of course, the criterion itself might spark another national conversation!  

Below is the Library of Congress’ “canon” of books that shaped American. Picture books are highlighted in red, and other children’s books are highlighted in blue.

American Cookery, Amelia Simmons
The American Woman’s Home, Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe
And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Beloved, Toni Morrison
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
Common Sense, Thomas Paine
Cosmos, Carl Sagan
The Double Helix, James D. Watson
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Family Limitation, Margaret Sanger
The Federalist, Anonymous
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Howl, Allen Ginsberg
The Iceman Cometh, Eugene O’Neill
Idaho: A Guide in Word and Pictures, Federal Writers’ Project
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Joy of Cooking, Irma Rombauer
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving
Mark, the Match Boy, Horatio Alger Jr.
Moby-Dick; or The Whale, Herman Melville
Native Son, Richard Wright
New England Primer, Anonymous
New Hampshire, Robert Frost
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective
Our Town: A Play, Thornton Wilder
Poems, Emily Dickinson
Pragmatism, William James
The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
Spring and All, William Carlos Williams
A Street in Bronzeville, Gwendolyn Brooks
A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
A Treasury of American Folklore, Benjamin A. Botkin
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unsafe at Any Speed, Ralph Nader
Walden; or Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau
The Weary Blues, Langston Hughes
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

For you (and me) to do:
RStart reading through the list!
RSee what criterion we can ascertain by looking at the children’s books on the list.
RVisit the Library of Congress' online exhibit at http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/books-that-shaped-america/Pages/SlObjectList.aspx

No comments: