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Children’s Books

In response to:

The Writing of E. Nesbit from the December 3, 1964 issue

To the Editors:

Mr. Gore Vidal’s case in the December 3 issue of The New York Review for the imaginative in children’s books, and most particularly for E. Nesbit, is a good one, and children’s librarians will be the first to agree that “practical books are not everything.” These same librarians will take issue with Mr. Vidal that it is the librarians who dominate the “juvenile market” who are responsible for this depressing dominance of “how-to-do” books and the rejection of books which stretch the imagination.

In public libraries in this country, one will find children’s librarians buying and encouraging children to read the best works of fantasy and imagination available. These same librarians conduct storyhours where folk tales and modern imaginative stories are told and they use every opportunity to urge adults to buy for children something other than the latest book on a practical subject.

Children’s librarians say a heartfelt Amen to Mr. Vidal’s words, but they would ask that they be included in the number of those who are working for the same important end. Practical books are necessary and the best of them make a real contribution to children’s development, but we also recognize that the heart and spirit must be fed. Children’s librarians are dedicated to this belief and provide the imaginative “food” for the feast.

Jane A. McGregor

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

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