Illustration by John Bauer for Walter Stenstrom’s <em>The Boy and the Trolls</em>
Illustration by John Bauer for Walter Stenstrom’s The Boy and the Trolls

A New Read on Children’s Literature in APU Exhibit

by Erin Ganley ’16

Beloved children’s stories are the focus of a new Special Collections exhibit in Stamps Rotunda, inside the Hugh and Hazel Darling Library, that reveals the educational importance of children’s stories while inviting visitors to return to their own childhood memories of literary classics.

Fairy Stories & Children’s Tales features 87 works by well-known authors and illustrators as well as award-winning children’s books. The collection that inspired the exhibit was donated in 2013 to Azusa Pacific by the George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books and comprises more than 1,000 books, including first editions and signed copies of popular stories and fairy tales. Each display case within the current exhibit highlights a different segment of children’s literature history, with categories covering award winners, fairy tales, first translations, and more. Among the most popular books of the exhibit are signed copies of Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum.

Luba Zakharov, MFA, associate professor, librarian, and curator of Special Collections and Rare Books for the University Libraries, and Lianna Moneypenny, senior English major, co-curated the Fairy Stories collection and say those who view it will learn about the history behind the books. According to Zakharov, the stories encapsulate historical and cultural contexts, allowing readers to better understand the authors and the times at which they were written.

The development of the exhibit also served to strengthen the mentoring relationship between Zakharov and her student assistant, Moneypenny, who worked together to process and organize the donation of children’s books from the George C. Stone Center. The effort inspired them to share selected works from the collection with the public. “I knew it would be an excellent opportunity for Lianna to prepare the exhibit with me, because she wrote her senior thesis on the impact of fairy tales and has an interest in pursuing work in special collections,” said Zakharov.

Both curators emphasized the scholarly importance of children’s books, noting that understanding the stories in a fresh way leads to both renewed literary appreciation and new insights for teachers. “The exhibit illuminates how many of the books we read as kids are still important to this day,” said Moneypenny. “Through the diverse works on display, viewers will gain insights into the importance of scholarship in this area.”

In interacting with the exhibit, visitors may find themselves reliving memories of youth through their favorite children’s literature or discovering previously unknown tales to pass on to their families. “The wide variety of books we cover in the showcase hold a special place for many people,” said Moneypenny. “This exhibit was a trip down memory lane for me, and I hope it can serve the same enjoyable purpose for others.”

The exhibit began once upon a time and runs through August 1. For more information, email lzakharov@apu.edu, or visit apu.edu/library/specialcollections/.