The humble board book, with its cardboard-thick pages, gently rounded corners and simple concepts for babies, was once designed to be chewed as much as read.

But today’s babies and toddlers are treated to board books that are miniature works of literary art: classics like “Romeo and Juliet,” “Sense and Sensibility” and “Les Misérables”; luxuriously produced counting primers with complex graphic elements; and even an “Art for Baby” book featuring images by the contemporary artists Damien Hirst and Paul Morrison.

–  A Library of Classics, Edited for the Teething Set, NYT

  • What do you think about reading complicated classics to preschoolers?
  • Do you read fairytales to preschoolers? If so, are they the originals or has their gruesomeness been ameliorated? (After all, fairytales were not originally meant for children — they were cautionary tales for adolescents and adults.)
  • Do you also read the classic Nursery Rhymes, such as the Mother Goose rhymes?
  • Has anything been lost between your own childhood and the childhood of your children?

I have been asking myself these questions, because for those of us who like to curate reading material for our children (to avoid them reading an abundance of mass produced lackluster tales), there are some decisions to be made, given that there are only so many hours total of ‘childhood’. With each generation comes a whole host of new work, and it’s tempting to stick to our own old favourites, because finding good, newly published work is harder work, especially since so many ‘Best Of’ lists of kidlit seem to be compiled by people who don’t seem to have read a children’s book since their own childhood.

See also: The 7 Best Graphic Adaptations of Classic Literature from B&N