But 1947 was just the beginning of a golden age of children's books. The post-war decades supplied a growing audience of children for the small band of visionary editors, mostly women, who nurtured an entire generation of artists and writers. And that is where today's doting adults have a great advantage. The books they remember with the most affection and delight are often just as good as they remember them, and many have been continuously in print.
What Ursula Nordstrom at Harper & Row, Mae Massee at Viking, Elizabeth Riley at Thomas Y. Crowell, Margaret K. McElderry at Harcourt Brace and others all shared was an understanding that children at particular stages and ages are more alike than they are different, and that there is no substitute for excellence in text and pictures. They also understood and recognized the importance of the compatibility of art and text in books for children.
But if books and children have not substantially changed in 50 years, publishing clearly has. The transformation of a small business into a big industry took place slowly, but in retrospect the steps are discernible. Beginning 40 years ago, the two inspired series of books that started with ''The Cat in the Hat'' and ''Little Bear'' turned the process of learning to read into a delightful adventure. Soon thereafter the development of trade paperbacks brought the work of many authors into inexpensive uniform editions, greatly expanding the number of children's books available. In recent decades new printing technology has resulted in full-color illustrations that have made children's books appear ever more lush and complex. The young-adult novel -- which many see as dating from ''The Outsiders,'' by S. E. Hinton, published 30 years ago -- found an audience as the boomers and their babies grew up. Nonfiction books, often as handsomely illustrated as the most lavish fairy tales, made all sorts of science and history exciting.
The greater change, however, has been not in the books themselves but in the alternatives to books. Today children must choose reading from among many other tempting, and more intensively marketed, distractions -- television, tape recorders, computers, electronic games, the Internet, movies.
One thing that has not changed is the pure pleasure of reading with toddlers and preschoolers. The practice is now bolstered by all sorts of scientific research in support of the benefits. (The studies somehow fail to note one of the most obvious factors every child understands: if you are reading, you are giving a child undivided attention.) It may be even more important to continue to read aloud with children who know how to read but haven't developed the habit, helping them with words and ideas that are hard or unfamiliar. Fluency, the prized ability to read easily and understand, comes only with practice.
A poem by Karla Kuskin captures the glory this kind of reading makes possible:
So I picked out a book
on my own
from the shelf
and I started to read
on my own
And nonsense and knowledge
came tumbling out,
the wisdom of wizards,
some songs of the ages,
all wonders of wandering
wonderful pages.Continue reading the main story
Не могу с ним не согласиться, - заметил Фонтейн. - Сомневаюсь, что Танкадо пошел бы на риск, дав нам возможность угадать ключ к шифру-убийце. Сьюзан рассеянно кивнула, но тут же вспомнила, как Танкадо отдал им Северную Дакоту.
Она вглядывалась в группы из четырех знаков, допуская, что Танкадо играет с ними в кошки-мышки.