Yesterday in the Guardian books blog, Tim Martin asked the question "how close can we get to a canon in children's literature?"
Today, Robert McCrum asks readers to consider what makes for children's classic? Near the end of the article he writes:
This is not a blog about lists (truly!), more an invitation to reflect on what makes a good book for children, who are the children's literary greats, and (ideally) what the mix of new and old should be.These two men are asking the same question really. There are those who work in the field of children's literature who will argue that there are books one must be familiar with to be a scholar or librarian or perhaps even a classroom teacher. But what of children? Are there books and stories that every child should/must know? There are those in the Cultural Literacy and Core Knowledge camps who would answer with an emphatic YES!
The answer is not so easy for me anymore. I look at my own son who had no taste for any of the Pooh stories, but loved Alice. How do you serve up a "must read" to a child who has no interest? In the end, I think this discussion should lean more towards matching a book to a child and his/her particular interests than towards making sure he/she is reading the "right" books. How about you?