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Micro review: My Art Book of Adventure by Shana Gozansky
Notes From the Reading Nook: September 26
Hi hi hi 👋
A few things before we get to today’s micro review:
1️⃣ Next month I’m doing an AMA — Ask Me Anything — and I need your questions! If there’s something you’ve been wondering about regarding children’s books, raising readers, building a culture of reading in your home (or, I suppose, me or my life), now is the time to ask. Fill out this form if you’d like to remain anonymous, leave a comment, or reply to this message with your question/s.
2️⃣ I’m excited to announce that I’ll be serving as a first-round judge for the 2023 CYBILS Awards, on the poetry panel. The CYBILS Awards — which have been around for 15 years — seek to elevate the best books for children and young adults, expanding their audience and improving childhood literacy by helping to identify books that will encourage a love of reading in children and teens, and ensuring a diverse and equitable appreciation of literature through inclusivity. I’ll be reading 60-some-odd books between mid-October and mid-December, working with my four fellow first-round judges to determine one shortlist for collections and one for novels/nonfiction in verse… and I am totally thrilled.
3️⃣ Lastly, I want to say happy birthday to my wonderful dad 🎂 who I love so incredibly much and who is responsible in many ways for my love of books and reading.
In 2022, I published a letter he wrote to a librarian he worked with once upon a time. It’s a testament to the power of books and certainly the way that he very intentionally shared his own love of books with me, but my main intent in publishing it here was to highlight that your efforts in building your own reading life, and a culture of books your own family, may have a much bigger impact than you ever realize — might, in fact, reverberate down the generations. If you’re interested in reading it, you can do so here:
Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy (our current read-aloud at breakfast)
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
Micro review: My Art Book of Adventure by Shana Gozansky (2023)
When my kiddos were babies and toddlers, I loved finding and reading books to them that featured fine art.
I started with the Mini Masters series by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober (and the second set, Mini French Masters), and became a little obsessed with anything from the Metropolitan Museum of Art — Museum ABC, Museum 123, and Museum Shapes; and then the Can You Find It? series, which I’ve recently discovered are even more fun now that my children are older; Vincent Van Gogh + poetry in Vincent’s Colors, which I reviewed in issue No. 67; and one of our most (surprisingly) precious titles of all time, Go In and Out the Window: An Illustrated Songbook for Young People, which I reviewed in issue No. 19. (Here is a photo of my now-late grandmother going through this book with my eldest, then 5yo, picking out what to sing next.)
This is all to say: I know a thing or two about art books for the littlest readers. And after years of experience with many titles, I am pretty picky about them.
My Art Book of Adventure by Shana Gozansky had a lot to live up to when I received it, but, pleasantly, it does. If you have babies and toddlers and want to introduce them — in a holistic and not didactic way — to fine art, I highly recommend this book.
I love the concept — and thus the text — here: the idea that art can be an adventure. YES. As a lifelong art lover — someone who came ridiculously close to being an art history major in college and dreamed of being a curator of an art museum for a long time — this resonates with me on a deep level, and sharing that with little kiddos? Delightful.
But, probably unsurprisingly, the best part of this book is the art itself:
When done well, there is a lot to look at and discuss in art books for kids, and this title is no exception — each page features a painting that can spark an interesting conversation or foster some spontaneous storytelling, which gives it a longer shelf-life (you can read it past the toddler stage) and greater appeal (you might find yourself reading it over and over, which I realize gets old, but is also extremely important — and developmentally valid — when reading to children in this age group).
This is a lovely, tiny treasure of a book.
On this week in the past…
🗒️ Please note: This is the last time I’m including the From the Archives section in my posts. I originally created this in hopes that it would help you discover more of what I’ve written in the past, but it turns out that people only rarely click these links. Substack stats, ftw!
I might replace it with something else and I might not. TBD.
Read good books and take good care 😘
P.S. All Bookshop.org affiliate links are affiliate ones. You know how it goes — you buy something, I get a small kickback. (Thank you, btw.)