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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

This day in children's literature

The John Newbery Medal was awarded for the first time on this day in 1922.
Named after the 18th-century British publisher and “father of children’s literature,” the award recognizes the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.
Newbery demonstrated that children’s literature could be profitable, but he also used his books to market other business ventures. In “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes,” a character dies because “Dr. James’s Powder was not to be had.” Fortunately for the concerned reader, Dr. James’s Fever Powder was widely available at the time; fortunately for Newbery, he inherited the patent.
Newbery believed that children learned best through play. Accordingly, his books were designed to instruct even as they amused. For an additional two pence, his first children’s book, “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book,” above, was sold with a black-and-red ball or pincushion. Children could stick a pin into the red side to mark good behavior or the black side to mark when they were bad.
The first Newbery Medal was awarded to “The Story of Mankind,” a history of the world for children by Hendrik Willem van Loon.
This year’s winner was “Hello, Universe,” a novel by Erin Entrada Kelly about diversity and friendship.
Emma McAleavy wrote today’s Back Story.

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