Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children‘s Literature 

Morrison Public Library is pleased to announce the opening of  Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children‘s Literature. The exhibit opened to the public on December 15th, 2014 and runs through April 1st, 2015 at Morrison Public Library located at 138 West Maple Street, Morrison, Tennessee.  This groundbreaking exhibition of Appalachian children‘s literature explores books published since the late 1800s. Based on research by Jamie Osborn, Manager of the Knox County Public Library in Knoxville, TN, ReadingAppalachia aims to show a more complete picture of the region’s literary heritage and how this literature tells the story of childhood in Appalachia.

Sporting life-size characters from some of the books, the exhibit is designed to create the sensation of walking through the pages of a storybook. Children can stand eye-to-eye with characters from Journey Cake Ho, A Mountain Rose, When Otter Tricked the Rabbit, When I Was Young, and others.  Books are available to touch, read, and explore. The exhibit includes hands on activities that bring the subject to life for kids of all ages.  Children are encouraged to try on masks of storybook characters and find themselves in a story. They are also invited to create their own story of childhood set in Appalachia.

Attendees can view original films and hear the voice of old time storyteller Ray Hicks along with some of their favorite authors and illustrators. Each panel includes an interpretation of the text from a child’s perspective.

An exhibit of Appalachian children‘s literature at this scale has never been produced; this exhibition is designed to travel to other libraries and locations in and around Appalachia.  Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children‘s Literature is made possible through the generous support of the Jane L. Pettway Foundation, Friends of the Knox County Public Library, Clayton Homes and the University of Tennessee’s Center for Children‘s and Young Adult Literature.

Why Appalachian children’s books?

Few things capture our hearts and senses more vividly than children’s books. They ignite imagination and help bring structure and understanding to developing minds. Their stories linger and guide us into adulthood; they help define us.

Perhaps more than any other region, Appalachia has captured the nation’s imagination. It is a land where the blue smoke of the mountains, the self-sufficiency of life in a holler, and the singsong of an enthralling storyteller come together in a near mythic culture.

Appalachia is a land about which stories are told. By examining seminal titles published over the decades since the late 1800s, we hope to show the fuller picture of our region’s literary heritage, and how this literature tells the story of childhood in Appalachia. ​