Yesterday, Jonda McNair posted about classic Coretta Scott King (CSK) books on the CSK Blog. McNair pointed out that often when one thinks of a classic book, they do not think of books written by and about African-Americans. Citing an article she wrote in The Reading Teacher in 2010, McNair shares what her criteria for a classic book in African-American literature are- often books can be grouped into three categories:
“universal experiences (e.g., death, love, and friendship) from an African American perspective, breakthrough books that are a “first” in some way or break new ground, and literary innovation (e.g., use of language, style, etc.).”
At the end of the post, Jonda shares the titles of some CSK winners that meet this criteria, and are what she considers CSK Classics, one of which is a personal favorite, Everett Anderson’s Goodbye.
As I sat on the train this morning to work, I thought about classics in children’s literature, and how there are books that meet aspects of the criteria Jonda shared,that have never necessarily won an award, but have impacted children’s literature. Are there universal titles that everyone agrees on? Is there other criteria How did a book become a classic to begin with? Is there a special bat-signal that is sent up each time a book becomes a classic? At what point do we start sharing these books as the “new classics”?
I know these are a lot of questions, and I know that there is no one answer. Or maybe, there is? Anyway, below is a list of some books that I would consider a new classic, and some of my reasoning. Feel free to add to it in the comments or try to answer the questions! I apologize in advance for the lack of finality in this list and it’s reasoning; the ideas and thoughts are still churning!
Alyson’s New Classic Books
- Captain Underpants series : breaking new ground
- Wonder: universal experience, recommended on school lists (does this make it a classic?? I feel like there’s a correlation between school-approved books and classics)
- Harry Potter series: breaking new ground
- Rapunzel’s Revenge & Calamity Jack ( I always recommend these to people looking for new graphic novels, even though they’ve been around. Does the fact I always recommend them make them a classic?)