This week I’ve been reading the spring 1996 issue of Library Trends: Imagination and Scholarship: Contributions of Women to American Youth Services and Literature. The issue includes an article on children’s services pioneer Virginia Haviland (Initiative and Influence: The Contributions of Virginia Haviland and Children’s Services, Research and Writing by Karen Patricia Smith). While the entire issue is a fascinating look at the impact of women on the field–one quote was a game changer for me. Smith quotes Haviland, “…distinguished art in children’s books may be for some children the only way they can behold beautiful art.”
Books offer many opportunities to educate and empower children. Until reading this quote I’ve never fully understood what illustrations can mean to children. Pictures in a book do more than help tell stories. For some children, illustrations are their first and only art museum. I read Haviland’s words and saw a challenge and an opportunity to provide children with great books and great illustrations.