PROFESSIONAL READING

Barking with the Big Dogs: On Writing and Reading Books for Children

272p. notes. Farrar. Nov. 2018. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9780374310400.
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Arranged chronologically from 1970 to 2004, this philosophical, conversational, and humorous volume of 19 essays and speeches, including one previously unpublished, offers insightful glimpses into Babbitt's books and career, as well as her own childhood and her life as both reader and author. She writes with the utmost respect and affection for children, teachers, and librarians alike and voices concerns about literacy instruction and the burdens placed on teachers. Babbitt ruminates on the relationship between authors and readers, the celebrity of authorship, the distinctions between literature for children and adults, and more. She is passionate about encouraging the joy of reading and explores self-acceptance, social responsibility, and how literature helps children grapple with complex ideas and unanswerable questions. Many of her observations are eerily prescient, and despite publication dates spanning three decades, much of Babbitt's keen insight remains relevant today. Even so, some entries contain occasional dated references or other problematic content (in one piece, Babbitt refers to a child as "retarded").
VERDICT Librarians, educators, and anyone interested in materials for young people will appreciate this candid, sharp volume full of discerning perspectives on enduring subjects related to children's literature and the human experience.

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