It is often said that "the world is a classroom" and that is true for no one more than for young children. Before the school years begin, they learn, for the most part, just by taking it all in: touching, tasting and smelling, listening, and above all, looking.
No one understood this better than Tana Hoban, the prolific and brilliant photographer and children's book creator. Tana Hoban began her career in the 1940s, photographing mainly children, and some of her pictures are now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. In the 1970s, she turned to taking pictures for young children, which she collected in a series of beautiful books. Many of these are still in print, and we hope they will remain so for years and years to come.
Hoban's books are all about how small children see and learn from ordinary objects in the world around them. Her photographs are often stark, and always graphically captivating. She focused on shapes, sizes, and numbers expressed in daily environments. She wrote, for example, that "A neat row of garbage cans sitting in the bright sun inspired me to do the counting book, 'Count and See.'"
Children love the way these books reflect their own perception of the world. And Tana Hoban also reminds parents just how much there is for a kid to learn from a walk down the block and a conversation about what she sees:
"Through my photographs and through open eyes I try to say, 'Look!' There are shapes here and everywhere, things to count, colors to see and always, surprises."
Below are a few of our favorite Tana Hoban titles -- take a look for yourself, and see!
Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban
A friend turned me on to Switch on the Night by Ray Bradbury (published in 1955 by Pantheon Books with original illustrations by Madeleine Gekiere), calling it one of her favorite vintage children's books of all time. Apparently, she bought a first e... read more
"To watch children at play is to see the mind in all its uninhibited glory." So said David Wiesner, the acclaimed children's book illustrator and storyteller, in an acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal. As a child, Wiesner continued, he and his ... read more