The Changing Trends in Genres and Formats of Children's Books (page 2)
Strong American high fantasy, rivaling the work of C. S. Lewis, also appeared in the 1960s, most notably the five books of The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, beginning with The Book of Three (1964).
Historical novels, which waned during the 1970s, began a comeback in the 1980s, and informational books (nonfiction) flourished. Although good informational books were available in earlier decades, an explosion of engaging, well-illustrated, and well-written nonfiction occurred. Informational books, which seldom appeared on Newbery Award lists, began to show up more frequently. Books winning Newbery Honors in the last 25 years include Sugaring Time by Kathryn Lasky (1983); Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun by Rhoda Blumberg (1985); Volcano by Patricia Lauber (1986); The Wright Brothers (1991), Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery (1993), and The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marion Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights (2004) by Russell Freedman; The Great Fire (1995) and An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (2003) by Jim Murphy; and Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow (2005) by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman, published in 1987, was awarded the Newbery Medal. One of the most exciting trends of the 1980s and 1990s undoubtedly was the increase in and emphasis on quality nonfiction for all age levels. Informational books now are better as a whole than ever. (See Chapter 14.) The first national award strictly for nonfiction writing was established by the National Council of Teachers of English in 1990 and appropriately named the Orbis Pictus Award in honor of the first nonfiction book published for children. In 2001, the American Library Association also established a nonfiction prize, the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award.
Expanding the emphasis placed on books for the very young in the 1970s, an increased number of quality “I can read,” or beginning reader, picture books appeared in the 1980s and 1990s. The trendsetters in this area had emerged decades earlier with the 1957 publications of Little Bear by Else Minarik and The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. But large numbers of well-written books for fledgling readers were not available until the 1980s. For example, HarperCollins publishes a series called I Can Read Books, of which Minarik’s Little Bear is a part. Fine authors who often have made a name by writing for older children have contributed to the series, which now offers parents, teachers, and children an exciting array of worthwhile beginning reader books. In 2004, the American Library Association established an award acknowledging excellence in writing for very young readers, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. It was first presented in 2006 to Cynthia Rylant (2005) for Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas.
Poetry also received more attention during the 1980s and 1990s. Two books of poetry won Newbery Medals during this time: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (1981) and Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (1988). In 1977, the National Council of Teachers of English established the Excellence in Poetry for Children Award, a lifetime achievement award honoring poets who write for young readers.
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