I post this in preparation of the November Will's Texana Monthly entitled: Children's Texana Picture and Easy Books of Recent Interest: A Casual Bibliography of about 150 titles.
I became aware of the genre through previous matters. I co-chaired in the middle 1970s a Youth Services Interest Group Task Force for the Southwestern Library Association to compile a selective bibliography of books in print. It was intended to supplement The Southwest in Children's Books: A Bibliography, edited by Mildred Harrington (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1952).
The subsequent distant touchstone for that project was Southwest Heritage: a literary history with bibliography, 2nd edition, by Mabel Major, Rebecca Smith, and T.M. Pearce (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1948.) Southwest Heritage’s 1938 edition lacks a children’s section. But, of course, there was Texas in Children's Books compiled by Kay Pinckney Braziel and Dorothy Brand Smith. (Austin: Univ. of Texas at Austin, Graduate School of Library Science, 1974.) Another earlier work consulted was “A Collection of Stories of Early Texas for Supplementary Reading in the Elementary Grades” by Leslie Mullin, a master’s thesis from Southwest Texas State Teachers College, 1943. Several locally compiled lists from Dallas etc. were also considered, e.g., A List of Books and Related Materials about Texas for use in schools, by Mary Akin Cochran (Austin Public Schools, 1952.) That SWLA task force’s work became a paperback list, A Selective Guide to In-print Children's Books about the Southwest co-edited by Will Howard and Judith Bryant (Dallas: Southwestern Library Association, Youth Services Interest Group, 1977.) Through that project, Texas writer Byrd Baylor’s elegant, humanistic, and charming books came to dwell in my sentiments. And we’ve all slapped our legs on James Rice’s humor.
Determining that Texana in general was not systematically monitored, I founded the Texas Bibliographical Society’s Texas Current Bibliography and Index (early 1970s to 1981), and I deliberately included children’s material in that periodical’s listings. The TCBI as served as a book review index.
After a trip to Chicago, I collected children’s material published by the communist Chinese government because they were so intriguing to compare with our democratic Western European tradition and so revealing by a reverse mirror image. I married children’s librarian Carol Spencer with her interest, research and personal collection of Wanda Gag, who established the modern American picture book standard with Million of Cats.
I wrote and published an ABC book on Austin, Texas, Arthur’s Austin ABC: Arturo en Austin, un abecedario, illustrated by Ben Sargent and translated by Maria Isabel Jofre (Winter Wheat House, 1981). At the time Texana picture books, indeed even alphabet books, were available but in relatively small numbers. For a while I consulted for school libraries and taught in some Austin private schools.
Some time later, in Houston, the arrival of youngsters into Houston Public Library’s Texas Room, where I served for many years, was a continuing pleasure.
When I retired and began the Monthly, I included youngsters’ books. My discovery of the National Center for Illustrated Children’s Literature and Museum at http://www.nccil.org/ with its wonderful facility in Abilene has been a delight.