When PBS announced the Great American Read, I was excited to see PBS uncover literature in American and let the country decide what the nation’s favorite book is. Based upon a survey, they broke down America’s top 100 books and are narrowing it down to one. The show, as hosted by Meredith Vieira, started on May 22, with a two-hour kickoff episode introducing the books. This will be followed with five themed episodes and a finale in the fall to announce the results of the voting. I streamed the episode the day after it aired, and decide to live tweet the process. Anyways, because of my live-tweeting and the general position I hold as I walk through life as a bookish person, I have thoughts on this list and what PBS is trying to accomplish. So, I’m going to hit it with some list analysis.
My first thought when I saw Jacqueline Woodson in person was that she was tall—to be fair though, I’m five feet tall, so everyone is tall to me. My second thought was brief panic. There I was, about to introduce myself to a literary rockstar. I don’t know why I was worried; she told me she liked my skirt, and we set off. Jacqueline Woodson was the keynote speaker at Kansas State University on April 21, 2018 for the Sixth Biennial Conference of Children's Literature in English, Education, and Library Science hosted by the Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community, of which I am a member. The conference theme, “Boundary Crossings in Children's and Young Adult Literature,” was inspired by Woodson’s work. Before she spoke, I had the opportunity to accompany Dr. Anne Phillips, my adolescent literature professor, to pick Woodson up from her hotel and accompany her to the location of the conference. I was delighted to have this opportunity, and am so grateful that Anne helped arrange it. On our car ride (through the rare Kansas rain) and short walk, I had the opportunity to ask Woodson a few questions.
What do we do with Sherman Alexie's work following allegations of sexual assault?
Considering the goal to provide context (historical, biographical, critical, and supporting) to “classic and contemporary children’s and young adult literature,” what exactly is a classic? There are three types of classics that I’m likely going to be talking about: Classics, Modern Classics, and Future Classics.
Bruce Handy, contributing editor for Vanity Fair, provides a “ramble through classic children’s literature” in Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult.