Where Have All the Folktales Gone?
In a recent review of Bobbi Miller’s One Fine Trade, I mentioned that it was a pity that there weren’t more folktales published these days. Each year New York Public Library produces a list of 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, and there has always been a folktale component to that list. In recent years, however, it has become more and more difficult to locate the little buggers. Why is this?
Here may be the solution: I heard from a couple authors after I wrote the review saying that publishers simply weren’t interested in publishing such fare. Said one writer:
"Nobody wants folktales anymore! The books are scarce because editors aren’t buying them. They tell us writers directly, ‘Don’t send us folktales. We’re not buying them. Period!’
It’s been especially frustrating this past year. I’ve been told to my face, ‘. . . I love your work. Please send me something. Just not a picture book or a folktale.’
Librarians and everyone else who loves folktales and believes they’re important for children need to speak out because as far as I can tell, there are none in the pipeline."
None in the pipeline? A shocking state of affairs. Books of folklore will not burn up The New York Times bestseller list, tis true, but they are as essential to a library collection as fiction and fact. Folklore is our very history. The thought that publishes are doing away with them entirely is disheartening to say the least.
But perhaps the author was wrong. Tell it to me straight, folks. Look me in the eye. Are folktales for kids really going the way of the dodo?
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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