Dr. James Taylor

Dr. James Taylor

It is assumed that in the age of the “Nursery” (ages 2-7) the child is being read to and the selections (Good Books List) remind us that children can listen to, and enjoy, many books they cannot yet read for themselves.

In my nursery age I was raised on the rhythms and rhymes of Mother Goose, Robert Louis Stevenson, and numerous poems and songs found in anthologies. Later, I heard the stories of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. The Steadfast Tin Soldier I still know by heart. Also, The Fox and His Travels, though I do not remember the author. Perhaps it was by the famous, Anonymous.

Years later I took my first formal course in Children’s Literature from Dr. Dennis Quinn at the University of Kansas and also had many conversations concerning these poems and stories with his colleague, Dr. John Senior. I have taught Children’s Literature at the high school and college levels for nearly two decades. What I have to say about the selections in this book draws from my childhood memories and adult reflections and my conversations with Quinn and Senior.

None of the age and literature categories used in the Angelicum Academy Good Books grade list are absolute. Think of the selections (grade levels) as notes of music with the freedom to work up and down the scale as you see fit. This is especially true of the Nursery and Preschool selections since the latter category is relatively new and could just as well signify Nursery. Even within the category of Nursery there are titles that one would want to withhold until a particular child is about to enter first grade. Seven years old was the traditional age the child went to school. Custom has changed for beginning school but the child’s intellectual stages of development have remained the same. Therefore, never rush the child into the book; it well may be that he or she will want to hear or begin to read one book over and over again. If so, remember that each time the child experiences the story or the poem, read to and or reading on his own, he is learning a great deal about how language works and becoming a good reader.