Wednesday 5 August 2015

Summer of Children’s Classics! What Makes a Classic?

Here at Space on the Bookshelf we celebrate all kinds of Children’s Literature, but predominantly we feature newly published books with our 3D Reviews and competition shadowing. SO when we were thinking of a summer feature to follow on from last year’s successful ‘WOW! Let’s Celebrate; Comics, Graphic Novels and Magazines!’ we decided to look back to the Classics and create our ‘Summer of Children’s Classics!’ posts. Throughout August we will be posting reviews and features about Children’s Classics as well as treating you to some interviews with writers who are going to tell us about their favourite children’s classic book, and share with us what the books mean to them.

To kick off our celebrations of all things classic we thought we’d start with a little ponder on what makes a classic. What it is that promotes a book up to this prestigious title?

The definition of classic in the English dictionary is:


1. Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind: a classic novel, a classic car

So, a Classic book is one which has withstood the pasting of time and fashions, and continues to be relevant, loved, read and most importantly remain in print. Many of the books we instantly think of as Classic’s are old, published long enough ago that they are no-longer have the constrictions of Copyright imposed on them; the likes of Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of OZ, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book. These are the daddies of the Children’s Classic Books, as they really have been judged over a substantial period of time; The Grimm’s Fairy Tales, are pushing 203 years since its original publication in 1812, and Alice and the Wonderland residents celebrate their 150th Anniversary come November 26th. Many of these Classics had rocky starts, Alice wasn't received well by critics upon publication, and Peter Pan which was originally a play that almost didn't hit the stage, which would have seriously hindered it’s evolution to novel form. So these titles have definitely won the right to their Classic status.

But it’s not only older works that earn the classic status. Puffin Books publish ‘Modern Classics’ and even though many of the classics on this list have been in print for a long period of time, like; Ursula Moray Williams’s, ‘Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat’ that was first published in 1942, or ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L'Engle originally realised in 1963, there are the much younger titles on its list too, like Dick Kings Smith’s 1989’s ‘The Hodgeheg’, or even Eion Colfer’s ‘Artemis Fowl’ that hit bookshelves in 2001.

So what makes a classic? An instant embracing of a book by a large audience? Or is it something more? Whatever it is, I believe that most of us have an opinion on which titles are classics even if we don’t quite understand what the elusive ingredients are that they possess that makes them classic! One thing we can be certain of is that Children’s Classic Books are all much loved by both young readers and readers that are young of heart!

Over August we will be celebrating classics in an array of features and will continue to deliberate over what it is that makes them so, but we would really love to hear what you think defines a book as a classic, please tell us by commenting below!

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