New Classics

Jonda C. McNair, Assistant Professor of Reading at Clemson University, publishes I Never Knew… a terrific newsletter highlighting African American children’s literature. In her Fall 2008 issue (which you can get by emailing her) Dr. McNair invites readers to expand the definition of “children’s classics” to include more representation of diverse authors and texts, as follows:

It is my hope that teachers, teacher educators, parents, and others will broaden their definition of the term “classic” so as to represent all children with a diverse collection of books that will stand the test of time.

I’m currently reworking my classroom library and keeping McNair’s words in mind. I recently came across a box of old books (left by the teacher who occupied  my classroom before me) and to my delight I found copies of picture books by Lucille Clifton (like-new copy of Everett Anderson’s Goodbye) and John Steptoe, as well as several titles by Eloise Greenfield. My library also includes many of the newer titles mentioned in the newsletter, and my students and I agree that Show Way, by Jacqueline Woodson is a “must” to be included on anybody’s list of new classics!


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