In my head, Victorian Lit was stuffy, dated and irrelevant. I hate love stories, always have, and I imagined that anything that fell under the Victorian umbrella was lacy, lovely and not for me.
But then came Wuthering Heights. What a book. In the end, I’m so glad I capped off my undergrad experience with that Vic Lit class. It opened my world, and I had the time and maturity (kind of) to digest everything. Vic Lit is dark, dingy, musty and complicated. The characters are usually painfully realistic and struggle endlessly to break free from the very things that were keeping me from taking that course; namely society, class and romantic expectations.
It’s no wonder that the Victorian era still holds us captive. The dark, muted Gothic style lends itself to a melancholic propriety that offers something that’s missing from today’s neon pop trends. If you’re into the steampunk thing, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The Victorian aesthetic has seen a massive resurgence lately, and the list of September’s kids book releases is dominated by books that take place in the 1800s, some even alluding directly to Victorian Literature classics. Grab a few of these highly recommended September kids releases and plant the seed that may someday grow into an appreciation for this great era in arts and culture.
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
In a book that Peter Brown calls his “most autobiographical book to date,” Mr. Tiger grows bored of being prim and proper and heads out to the jungle to “go wild.” Mr. Tiger learns how lonely it is out in the wilderness. A book about striking balance, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild will teach kids how to be themselves while still respecting the rules of others.
Little Miss Austen: Sense & Sensibility by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver
The BabyLit book series is a classy, adorable way to introduce pre-k learners to all kinds of classic literature. In this particular primer, kids learn about opposites through the simplified Jane Austen classic.
Check out Nerdy With Children’s review of Pride and Prejudice for more on the Little Miss Austen portion of the BabyLit series.
Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver have made many other Victorian Lit primers including the Little Miss Bronte Wuthering Heights Primer, also out this month, which covers weather concepts. Other previously released primers include Moby Dick on oceanography and Alice in Wonderland on colors, just to name a few. There’s even an Ana Karenina BabyLit primer on fashion.
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt
In this book aimed at older kids aged eight and up, the Newberry Award winning author of the popular Tillerman series weaves a mystery that is intended to be the first of a trilogy. After his actor parents disappear without a trace, Max sets off in search of them and finds out that he has an uncanny knack to solve everyone’s problems but his own. The style of the book takes on a distinctive 1800s vibe.
Locomotive by Brian Floca
As reviewer E. R. Bird observes, “train lovers are the nerds of the toddler world.” He explains that this particular book on trains caters to kids who have held onto that train obsession, but also catches the attention of kids who may have never given a thought to trains before. This beautifully illustrated book uses fresh and simple prose to tell the story of how the transcontinental railroad stretched itself across the country, starting out in 1869. A complex story told in simple terms, just as an enchanting kids book should be.