New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., (1939). Single volume, measuring 7.5 x 5 inches: xii, , 360. Original red pictorial cloth stamped in black, original unclipped color pictorial dust jacket. Color pictorial frontispiece, black and white illustrations throughout text. Early owner signature to front free endpaper; bookseller label (Union Book Co., Schenectady) to rear pastedown. Light soiling, creasing, and edgewear to jacket.
Later printing of this landmark in American progressive education, first published to considerable controversy in 1921. The founder of New York’s Bank Street College of Education, Lucy Sprague Mitchell argued that very young children were better served developmentally by stories rooted in everyday experience, the “here and now,” than by the traditional reading list of fairy tales, mythology, and folklore. The stories in this volume, inspired by Mitchell’s conversations with city preschoolers about their own lives, are experimental: “It is the hope that these stories may be tried out with children . . . the hope that we may gather records of children’s stories which will become a basis for a real literature.” Subjects include “The Grocery Man,” “The Subway Car,” and “The Sky Scraper.” Mitchell’s approach put her squarely at odds with the most powerful tastemaker in American children’s literature, librarian Anne Carroll Moore, a lover of fairy tales who saw to it that “every children’s room in the New York Public Library system celebrated [Hans Christian] Andersen’s birthday” (Marcus, Minders of Make-Believe.) The debate between progressive educators and public librarians over the best reading material for young children continued throughout the 1930s, a clash of realism and fantasy sometimes summarized as the “Fairy Tale War.” A very good copy, in the elusive dust jacket.