The New York Public Library is celebrating children's literature in a special exhibit “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” City and Country School, Caroline Pratt, and our very own unit blocks are featured in the exhibit's display. The exhibit's installations and narrative thoughtfully reflect on progressive education's influence on children's books. Pratt's visionary concept of open-ended learning through her design of unit blocks and her approach to education is reflected in iconic books, as the description at the exhibit explains:
"Other applications of the same concept of open-ended design can be seen in the text-free left-hand pages of The First Picture Book, the playful 'Goodnight nobody' page of Goodnight Moon, and the very premise of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Nor is it by chance that Leonard Weisard’s semi-abstract Noisy Book skyline bears a striking resemblance to a building-block city."
The exhibit can be seen at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at the New York Public Library through March 23, 2014. The exhibit was reviewed in the New York Times on June 20, 2013. Read the article for a deeper look at the exhibit and the intersection between progressive education and children's literature.
Historical note: Lucy Sprague Mitchell, discussed at length in the exhibit, is best known as the founder of Bank Street College, but was first a teacher at City and Country School. She provided significant financial and educational support to C&C through the 1920s, when Pratt and Mitchell formally parted ways.