THE regular search for the good book for the child will continue so long as there are children's libraries. A recent report on an enquiry has reached us from Bethnal Green and follows the familiar lines of getting the children to vote on what they like; with the result that the “William” books, which should be making all concerned in their production a fortune, head the list, and the simple “small”‐child books, the Milly‐Molly, Mandy series, come next. The field surveyed was small, for “William” polled only 34 votes; only 800 of the 6,000 children registered as borrowers participated. It is questionable if such enquiries, however much they interest us as librarians, can effectively help to improve child reading, unless some method of finding and providing high literature in the type the youngsters prefer can be devised. Mr. George F. Vale prefaces his brief list of books chosen with a really interesting discussion on the subject, but a quotation from it indicates part of the problem. He writes, speaking of Tom Sawyer, Alice and The Wafer Babies, “What elements go to make a permanent children's book is one of the mysteries of literature, but evidently these books possess some quality which overrides all the chances and changes of time. It is not merely the appeal of a good story; there are many better stories than The Water Babies. The secret seems to be some mysterious rapport between the author's mind and that of the readers, an ability to see and to think upon the level of the child mind.” All this is true, but it is more than that, we think; it is the power of recording what is, has been or may be, within the child's own range of experience; that is, it is true in that it realises the conditions of the world of childhood. It is curious, and possibly significant, that a book for children in these enquiries means a story. An enquiry is overdue into the type and quality of non‐fiction read by them, the sort of child who reads and in what circumstances: Real information here might reveal gaps and surpluses in book provision that are not now widely recognized!
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