Consider E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. I have gushed over this book before, about my children's responses to it. But I believe wholeheartedly that this book is wonderful for more than just its appeal to children. Adults everywhere will tell you how important it is (not just was) to them. There are countless others, too. Take a look at Brenna's post at Literary Musings about kids' books; the comments make my point for me.
And though there are detractors and areas of certain failing, the Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal recipients often are excellent representations of the best of the best in children's lit. January brought us the announcement of the 2011 award winners and honor books, and though I try to pay attention to these things, I was caught off guard by almost all the selections. See the list below:
Newbery Medal - Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Honors - Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Honors - Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Interrupting Chicken written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
I have read exactly none of these. How humbling. The Stein was on my radar at least, but I didn't consider it a contender. The Vanderpool is a debut novel (What an amazing trip that must be!). Turtle in Paradise has been highly recommended to me. But to have read none of these books, even with weekly trips to the library and regular consideration of such things, is just evidence to me of the wonder and beauty of children's books. That's why I love these awards. Try as I may, I can't read everything, and I bet at least one of these will change me in some important way. Had they not been granted this distinction, I might never have had the honor of reading them. So, I have my list; I must go see what my libraries have available. What about you? Do you have comments on any of these? What about past winners or honorees? Do you have favorites? Let's share some kid book love, people!