Backlist, and Picture Books

Several weeks back, Seth Godin had a great reflection, “Building your backlist (and living with it forever” on how each person should pay attention to his or her backlist , and I’ve been pondering it ever since.

from my Jane Austen bookcase

Here’s what I think: First, I have a considerable “backlist” here on Reading Catholic of book reviews, author interviews and other content. Part of what I’d like to do is organize that a little better so that it’s easy to access, but I need to be proud of that work and say “way to go, me” about it.

But I also realize that I’ve got a great backlist “in my head” of, in particular, book lists of:  (this is only a partial list)

*great picture books for families to own

*great young kid books

*great beginning chapter books

*great audiobooks for family listening

*great young adult novels

from the C.S. Lewis/Tolkein bookshelves (clearly in need of reorg)

Often, someone will ask me in person or, as happened on Facebook recently, for good suggestions for picture books, or middle-grade novels, or great books for girls, or … And I think, it’s all in my head, but I can’t access it easily.

So the goal here will be to gradually work to get some of these “backlists” out of my head and here for readers to reference, springboard from, and incorporate into their family libraries.

a tiny portion of the picture book bookcases–also in need of reorg

I’m starting with picture books because I have a ready library at home to share, so for the time being it will be “Picture Book Monday” here on Reading Catholic. I hope you will discover some great picture books and picture book authors. Eventually, I would love to add on other book categories.

I’m acknowledging here the inspiration of the wonderful Cay Gibson, the author of Catholic Mosaic: Living the Liturgical Year with Children, as well as “A Picture-Perfect Childhood. Cay blogs at Both of those are great resources and book lists, and both are available on Amazon.

Many years ago (when my oldest was a pre-schooler, I think) Cay moderated a now-silent yahoo group called “Literature Alive!” One year, Cay organized for us an “author study” of picture book authors, one per week. The prospect of one author per week was almost too much, but I was in heaven getting to discover so many wonderful authors and classic works.

Some were new, some were old favorites, and some were not very interesting to us after all. But every week I would faithfully go to the library with my family (only two little girls at that time) and take out every book by, say, Dr. Seuss.

I’d also give a hand-written list to Miss Glenda, our library’s wonderful inter-library loan person (this was before you could order books from the library on the Internet) various other titles that the yahoo group members would recommend.

And over the course of that year, I discovered picture book authors that our family adored, and we gradually assembled a home library of wonderful books. More importantly, we accumulated wonderful stories and family traditions related to the book.

Come Monday, we shall start with probably my favorite picture book author, Margaret Wise Brown, and feature five of her books. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about some of the books and our family stories, and consider discovering some of these authors and picture books. Most of all, I want to encourage families to make picture books part of your family life.

Do you read picture books at your house?  What are some of your favorites?