"Finding a Crock of Gold: Identifying Quality in Children's Literature" and "Huck and Jim Lost on the River" - "Finding a Crock of Gold: Identifying Quality in Children's Literature" and "Huck and Jim Lost on the River"
Defining what makes “good” children’s literature causes so much debate because quality is subjective. Some wonder if it is the book itself or its impact that makes it great. Ethel Heins asks, “Is it enough to say that a children’s book is good in its own right, as a work of literature? Or should it be called good because of its lasting influence or because of what it can do to or for the reader?” (Heins 252). Should a poorly written book that is loved be considered great, or should that title belong to a beautifully written book that does not reach an audience? Readers also interpret the same text in different ways. The Reader Response Theory states that, other than the agreed upon meanings of words, responses to the written word are personal, and every genuine interpretation is valid (Anderson 41). The meaning of a text is found in the reader, depending on their background, personality, and emotions while reading. The same reader can even have different responses to the same text depending on when they read it. Because of this, objectively defining what makes writing good is extremely difficult. However, in this essay, I will identify specific characteristics that are generally present across successful children’s literature.