Adorning the front entry of the Bank Street College of Education is a brass plaque honoring Margaret Wise Brown, author of the bedtime classics Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. In the 1930s, as a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab, Brown was a driving force behind the “Here And Now” movement in children’s books conceived ten years prior by Bank Street College founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell.
Mitchell and Brown oversaw the creation of hundreds of innovative works of literature that -- unlike that era’s conventional children’s books, laden with moral instruction – reflected back children’s intimate daily experiences and inner lives.
Working with legendary colleagues Ruth Krauss (A Hole Is to Dig), Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon) and Edith Thacher Hurd (Ellen’s Lion), Brown’s work paved the way for the Little Golden Books publishing phenomenon, and ultimately, via Krauss and Johnson’s disciple Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), to the entire modern era in children’s literature.
The Bank Street Writers Lab still flourishes, as a component of the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature, along with Bank Street’s various awards programs, among them the Irma Black Award (outstanding picture book, as judged by child voters) and the Cook Prize (outstanding book about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.) In addition there are awards given annually by the Bank Street Children's Book Committee, such as the Claudia Lewis Award (outstanding poetry book).
It’s this pivotal place that Bank Street College occupies in contemporary children’s literature that explains why forty years of nurturing and maintaining one of the world’s best children’s bookstores has been a mission-driven activity for the Bank Street College of Education.