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"Dark and terrible goings on in the world of juvenile letters."

An entertaining and instructive article by Jill Lepore in the New Yorker examines the history of of children’s literature in the United States through the opposing figures of Anne Carroll Moore, who pioneered children’s libraries, and E. B. White, journalist and author of Stuart Little. What brought them into conflict was the notion of "suitability": what is suitable for whom, and who gets to make those decisions.

This link goes to the first page (of eight) of the article, while this one links to the article on a single long page.

Neil Gaiman, in whose diary I found the link, quotes from it a passage from Katharine White (E. B. White’s wife, and one of the first children’s book reviewers:

It has always seemed to us that boys and girls who are worth their salt begin at twelve or thirteen to read, with a brilliant indiscrimination, every book they can lay their hands on. In the welter, they manage to read some good ones. A girl of twelve may take up Jane Austen, a boy Dickens; and you wonder how writers of juveniles have the brass to compete in this field, blithely announcing their works as ‘suitable for the child of twelve to fourteen.’ Their implication is that everything else is distinctly unsuitable. Well, who knows? Suitability isn’t so simple.

Experts, it seems, have been saying No to Age Banding since the 1930s.

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