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Children's literature is for readers and listeners up to about age twelve, the usual age for entering middle school. It is often illustrated. The term is used in senses which sometimes exclude young-adult fiction, comic books, or other genres. Books specifically for children existed by the 17th century. Scholarship on children's literature includes professional organizations, dedicated publications and university courses.

Defining children's literatureEdit

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There is some debate on what constitutes children's literature.

Books written by children
A much-overlooked kind of children's literature is work written by children and young teens, such as The Young Visiters by Daisy Ashford (aged nine) or the juvenilia of Jane Austen, written to amuse brothers and sisters. Anne Frank wrote a novel and many short stories in addition to her diary. Barbara Newhall Follett wrote four books, beginning with a novel called The House Without Windows at the age of nine; when the manuscript was destroyed in a fire, she rewrote it from memory. In 1937 two schoolchildren, Pamela Whitlock and Katharine Hull sent their manuscript of The Far-Distant Oxus to Arthur Ransome, who persuaded his publisher Jonathan Cape to produce it, characterising it as "the best children's book of 1937". Dorothy Straight's How the World Began and S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders are more recent examples.

Books written for children
Perhaps the most common definition of children's literature is those books intentionally written for children. Nancy Anderson, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of South Florida in Tampa,[1] defines children's literature as all books written for children, "excluding works such as comic books, joke books, cartoon books, and nonfiction works that are not intended to be read from front to back, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference material".[2] Some of this work is also very popular among adults. J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series was originally written and marketed for children, but it was so popular among children and adults that The New York Times created a separate bestseller list. Often no consensus is reached whether a given work is best categorized as adult or children's literature, and many books are marketed for both adults and children.

Books chosen for children
The most restrictive definition of children's literature are those books various authorities determine are "appropriate" for children, such as teachers, reviewers, scholars, parents, publishers, librarians, retailers, and the various book-award committees.

Parents wishing to protect their children from the unhappier aspects of life often find the traditional fairy tales, nursery rhymes and other voyages of discovery problematic, because often the first thing a story does is remove the adult influence, leaving the central character to learn to cope on his or her own: prominent examples of this include Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Bambi and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Many see such isolation of child characters from supporting adults as necessary preparation for the transition to adulthood. The school story became a common device for this, beginning with Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857) by Thomas Hughes and F.W. Farrar's Eric, or, Little by Little, although the framework had been explored as early as 1749 by Sarah Fielding in The Governess, or The Little Female Academy. Life begins for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in the Mark Twain stories (1876 and 1885) once Aunt Polly's ineffectual tutelage is shaken off. In the classic British novels Tom's Midnight Garden (Philippa Pearce, 1958) and Jessamy (Barbara Sleigh, 1967), for example, the responsibility is enhanced by isolating the child not just spatially, but in time, through the use of time slip. Arthur Ransome used the device of children acting for themselves extensively in his Swallows and Amazons series (1930–48) and included poignant discussion of it (the "duffer" question in Swallows and Amazons and Swallowdale).

Books chosen by children

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The broadest definition of children's literature applies to books that are actually selected and read by children. Children choose many books, such as comics, which some would not consider to be literature at all in the traditional sense; they also choose literary classics and recognized great works by modern writers, and often enjoy stories which speak on multiple levels. In the opinion of novelist Orson Scott Card, "one can make a good case for the idea that children are often the guardians of the truly great literature of the world, for in their love of story and unconcern for stylistic fads and literary tricks, children unerringly gravitate toward truth and power."[3] Someone who enjoyed Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a child may come back to the text as an adult and see the darker themes that were lost on them as younger readers.

In addition, many classic books that were originally intended for adults are now commonly thought of as works for children. Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was originally intended for an adult audience.[4] Today it is widely read as a part of children's school curriculum in the United States.

Types of children's literatureEdit

Children's literature can be divided in many ways.

Children's literature by genres
A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by technique, tone, content, or length. Nancy Anderson, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of South Florida in Tampa,[1] has delineated six major categories of children's literature, with some significant subgenres:[5]

  1. Picture books, including board books, concept books (teaching an alphabet or counting), pattern books, and wordless books
  2. Traditional literature: there are ten characteristics of traditional literature: (1) unknown authorship, (2) conventional introductions and conclusions, (3) vague settings, (4) stereotyped characters, (5) anthropomorphism, (6) cause and effect, (7) happy ending for the hero, (8) magic accepted as normal, (9) brief stories with simple and direct plots, and (10) repetition of action and verbal patterns.[6] The bulk of traditional Literature consists of folktales, which conveys the legends, customs, superstitions, and beliefs of people in past times. This large genre can be further broken down into subgenres: myths, fables, ballads, folk music, legends, and fairy tales.[7]
  3. Fiction, including the sub-genres of fantasy and realistic fiction (both contemporary and historical). This genre would also include the school story, a genre unique to children's literature in which the boarding school is a common setting.
  4. Non-fiction
  5. Biography, including autobiography
  6. Poetry and verse.

Children's literature by age category
Children's literature is an age category opposite adult literature, but it is sub-divided further due to the divergent interests of children age 0–18.

  • Picture books appropriate for pre-readers ages 0–5. Caldecott Medal winners often (but not always) fall within this category.
  • Early Reader Books appropriate for children age 5–7. These books are often designed to help a child build his or her reading skills.
  • Chapter book appropriate for children ages 7–11.
    • Short chapter books, appropriate for children ages 7–9.
    • Longer chapter books, appropriate for children ages 9–12. Newbery Medal winners often (but not always) fall within this category.
  • Young-adult fiction appropriate for children age 13–18.

The criteria for these divisions are just as vague and problematic as the criteria for defining children's books as a whole. One obvious distinction is that books for younger children tend to contain illustrations, but picture books which feature art as an integral part of the overall work also crosses genres and age levels. Tibet: Through the Red Box by Peter Sis is a one example of a picture book aimed at an adult audience.

Series
Book series are not unique to children's literature. Series are also very popular in science fiction and crime fiction. Sometimes the success of a book for children prompts the author to continue the story in a sequel or to launch a series, such as L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz. Sometimes works are originally conceived as series, such as the Harry Potter books. Enid Blyton and R. L. Stine have specialized in open-ended series. Sometimes a series will outlive its author. When Baum died, his publisher hired Ruth Plumly Thompson to write more Oz books. The Nancy Drew series and others were written by several authors using the same pen name.

IllustrationsEdit

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Children's books are often illustrated, sometimes lavishly, in a way that is rarely used for adult literature except in the illustrated novel genre popular especially in Japan, Korea and France. Generally, the artwork plays a greater role in books intended for the youngest readers (especially pre-literate children). Children's picture books can be a cognitively accessible source of high quality art for young children.

Many authors work with a preferred artist who illustrates their words; others create books together, and some illustrators write their own books. Even after children attain sufficient levels of literacy to enjoy the story without illustrations, they continue to appreciate the occasional drawings found in chapter books. Folklore is the oldest of stories including nursery rhymes, folktales, myths, epics, legends, fables, songs, and ballads that have been passed down by storytellers for hundreds, even thousands, of years to enlighten and entertain generations of listeners, young and old. (Literature and the Child, 7th edition, Lee Galda, Bernice E. Cullian, and Lawrence R. Sipe, p. 175).

HistoryEdit

Because of the difficulty in defining children's literature, it is also difficult to trace its history to a precise starting point. Except for some of the pre-19th-century literature, the children's literature listed below is limited to books fitting the definition used for this article: literature for readers and listeners up to about age 12. The list therefore excludes such well known books as Tom Sawyer, Anne of Green Gables, the Hardy Boys mysteries, The Jinx Ship and its sea story sequels, the Nancy Drew mysteries, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lassie Come Home, The Black Stallion and its sequels, the Harry Potter fantasy series, and the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy--books belonging primarily to the young adult (YA) market that starts at about age 13.

15th Century
Some stories popular among children were written in the 15th Century. Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur (1486) and the tales of Robin Hood (c. 1450) were not written with children in mind, but children have been fascinated by these stories for centuries.

17th Century
In 1658 Jan Ámos Komenský published the illustrated informational book Orbis Pictus in Bohemia. It is considered to be the first picture book published specifically for children. Also during this time, Charles Perrault (1628–1703) laid the foundations of the fairy tale in France. His stories include Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Cinderella.

18th Century
In 1744, John Newbery published A Little Pretty Pocket-Book in England. He sold it with a ball for boys or a pincushion for girls. It is considered a landmark for the beginning of pleasure reading marketed specifically to children. Previously, literature marketed for children had been intended to instruct the young, though there was a rich oral tradition of storytelling for children and adults. But by the time William Blake's Songs of Innocence was published in 1789, books written specifically for the use of children outside of school had become, according to F.J. Harvey Darton, "a clear but subordinate branch of English literature."[8] Popular examples of this growing branch included Thomas Day's The History of Sandford and Merton (1783-9) - which embodies many of the educational and philosophical tenets espoused by Jean-Jacques Rousseau - and Maria and Richard Lovell Edgeworth's Practical Education: The History of Harry and Lucy (1780), which urged children to teach themselves.[9]

19th Century

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In the early 19th century, the Brothers Grimm; Jakob and Wilhelm were responsible for writing down and preserving tales told by oral tradition in Germany, such as Snow White, Rapunzel, and Hansel and Gretel (1812). However, recent research suggests that many such tales were based ultimately on written materials, usually French or Italian.[10] One of many didactic English writers popular in the first half of the nineteenth century was Maria Elizabeth Budden.

Between 1835 and 1848, Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) of Denmark published his beloved fairy tales: The Little Mermaid (1836), The Emperor's New Clothes (1837), The Ugly Duckling (1844), The Snow Queen (1845) and others. During Andersen's lifetime he was feted by royalty and acclaimed for having brought joy to children across Europe. His fairy tales have been translated into over 150 languages and continue to be published in millions of copies all over the world and inspired many other works.[11] "The emperor's new clothes" and "ugly duckling" are expressions that have passed into the English language.

In 1865, Lewis Carroll (1832–1898) published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in England. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity to adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense, and its narrative course and structure has been enormously influential, mainly in the fantasy genre.

In 1880, Johanna Spyri (1827–1901) published Heidi (1880) in Switzerland. The subtitle declared that it is a book "for children and those who love children".

In 1881, Joel Chandler Harris (1845–1908) published Uncle Remus, a collection of stories narrated by the fictional storyteller Uncle Remus and featuring Br'er Rabbit and other animals speaking African-American dialect.

In 1883, Carlo Collodi wrote his puppet story, The Adventures of Pinocchio as a first Italian fantasy novel for the children of Italy.

In 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the classic pirate adventure novel Treasure Island. Traditionally considered a coming-of-age story, it is an adventure tale known for its atmosphere, character and action, and also a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality—as seen in Long John Silver. It is one of the most frequently dramatised of all novels, and its influence on popular perception of pirates is vast.

In 1894, Rudyard Kipling published The Jungle Book, a collection of stories about a boy who lives in the jungle with animals, that has been made into a series of animated and live-action film adaptations.

In 1898, Albert Bigelow Paine wrote the first of his three Hollow Tree books, The Hollow Tree and Deep Woods Book. This was followed in 1901 by the Hollow Tree Snowed-in Book and in 1915 by Hollow Tree Days and Nights.

In 1899, Helen Bannerman published Little Black Sambo, the story of a boy abused by four tigers who, at the end of the story, suffer the consequences of their abuse--melting into butter and being eaten on pancakes.

In 1900, L. Frank Baum (1856–1919) published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It has been constantly in print since. It is one of the best-known stories in American culture and has been translated into 40 languages. Its success led Baum to write thirteen sequels. Other authors continued the series for decades.

20th Century
In 1902, Beatrix Potter published The Tale of Peter Rabbit, that follows Peter Rabbit, a mischievous and disobedient young rabbit, as he ventures into the garden of Mr. McGregor. The book has generated considerable merchandise over the decades since its release with toys, dishes, foods, clothing, videos and other products made available. Potter was one of the first to be responsible for such merchandise when she patented a Peter Rabbit doll in 1903.

In 1908, Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind in the Willows from his retired position as secretary of the Bank of England. He moved to the country, where he spent his time in the River Thames doing much as the animal characters in his book do; namely, as one of the most famous phrases from the book says, "simply messing about in boats" for his son.

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In 1911, J.M Barrie (1860–1937) published Peter and Wendy where Peter Pan, one of the most famous characters in children's literature, magically refuses to grow up and spends his never-ending childhood in the small island called Neverland.

In 1920, Hugh Lofting wrote The Story of Dr. Doolittle, the first of ten Dr. Doolittle books.

In 1926, A. A. Milne wrote Winnie-the-Pooh, chapter stories about an adorable bumbling teddy bear, his best friend Piglet, and other animal characters. The House at Pooh Corner, more Pooh stories, followed in 1928.

In 1930, The Little Engine That Could was published. Written by Arnold Munk under the pen name Watty Piper and adapted from earlier stories by other authors dating back to 1906, the book is the story of an undersized anthropomorphic switch engine that successfully accepts a challenging job turned down by bigger, main-line engines: hauling a load of toys over a mountain to children on the other side.

In 1933, Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957) published the first installment of the Little House on the Prairie series in the United States based on her childhood in a Western-pioneering family. The books have remained continuously in print since their initial publication and are considered classics of American children's literature. Several of them were named Newbery Honor books. They remain widely read. The books were also adapted into a long running, popular American television series, Little House on the Prairie.

In 1934, Pamela L. Travers wrote Mary Poppins, the first of a long series of books about a magical nanny and the children she shepherded. The last Mary Poppins book was published in 1989.

In 1936, Munro Leaf wrote The Story of Ferdinand, the story of a gentle Spanish bull who refused to accept his appointed role as a bull ring combatant.

In 1945, E. B. White (co-author of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style), wrote Stuart Little, the story of an intelligent, semi-anthropomorphic mouse who sailed a tiny boat and drove a tiny car. A few years later, in 1952, White published Charlotte's Web, the story of a barnyard spider and her animal friends.

In 1950, C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) published the first of installment of his Chronicles of Narnia series in the UK. The Chronicles of Narnia has sold over 120 million copies in 41 languages, and has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage, and cinema. In addition to numerous traditional Christian themes, the series borrows characters and ideas from Greek and Roman mythology, as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales.

In 1957, Theodore Seuss Geisel, writing under the pen name Dr. Seuss, wrote the first and best known of his Dr. Seuss books: The Cat in the Hat. Several sequels followed. Also in 1957, the next best known Dr. Seuss book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, was published.

In 1964, Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the story of Charlie Bucket's adventures inside Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. At the end of the story, Charlie wins a prize--the chocolate factory!

In 1964, Louise Fitzhugh wrote Harriet the Spy, the story of an 11 year old girl who gets into trouble by spying on her neighbors, classmates, and friends. She ultimately becomes editor of the school newspaper, in which capacity she makes amends for earlier remarks that alienated people.

In 1972, Graham Oakley wrote The Church Mouse, the first of a series of twelve Church Mouse books extending until 2000. The main characters are Arthur and Humphrey, two mice who, along with the lazy cat Sampson, operate in England's Anglican Church of Saint John.


21st Century</br /> In 2001, Eoin Colfer (born 1965) published the first installment of his Artemis Fowl series in Ireland. In 2008, titles from the series spent six weeks at number one and helped the Penguin Group post record profits in a tough economy.[12]

ScholarshipEdit

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Scholarship in children's literature written in or translated into English is primarily conducted in three different disciplinary fields: (1) literary studies (English departments, language departments), (2) library and information science, and (3) education (Wolf, et al., 2011). There has historically been little overlap between the topics studied or the methodologies used to conduct research in each of these fields, but recently more attention has been paid to how scholars from across disciplines might collaborate, as well as how each field of study contributes unique information and theories to scholarship related to children's literature.

Research from a Literary Perspective: Typically, children's literature scholars from literature departments in universities (English, German, Spanish, etc. departments) conduct literary analyses of books. These studies are considered literary criticism analyses and may focus on an author, a thematic (e.g.,) or topical (e.g., ) concern, a genre, a period, or a literary device (e.g., ). The results of this type research are typically published as books or articles in scholarly journals. The highly regarded research journals that publish literary studies in children's literature include Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Children's Literature in Education, Children's Literature, The Lion and the Unicorn, and International Research in Children's Literature.

Research from a Library & Information Science Perspective: The field of Library and Information Science has a long history of conducting research related to children's literature. The focus of the 1999 Trejo Foster Institute for Hispanic Library Education was Library Services for Youth of Hispanic Heritage. [13]

Research from an Education Perspective: Most educational researchers studying children's literature explore issues related to the use of children's literature in classroom settings. Some educational researchers, however, study home settings, children's out-of-school reading or parents' use of children's books, for example.

Scholarly associations & centers: the Children's Literature Association, the International Research Society for Children's Literature, the Library Association Youth Libraries Group, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators the Irish Society for the Study of Children's Literature, IBBY Canada and Centre for International Research in Childhood: Literature, Culture, Media (CIRCL), National Centre for Research in Children's Literature.

AwardsEdit

Some noted awards for children's literature are:

  • Canada: the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature and Illustration (English and French). A number of the provinces' school boards and library associations also run popular "children's choice" awards where candidate books are read and championed by individual schools and classrooms. These include the Blue Spruce (grades K-2) Silver Birch Express (grades 3–4), Silver Birch (grades 5–6) Red Maple (grades 7–8) and White Pine (High School) in Ontario. Programs in other provinces include The Red Cedar and Stellar Awards in B.C., the Willow Awards in Saskatchewan, and the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards. IBBY Canada offers a number of annual awards.
  • The Philippines: The Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature for Short Story for Children in English and Filipino Language (Maikling Kathang Pambata) since 1989 and Children's Poetry in English and Filipino Language since 2009. The Pilar Perez Medallion for Young Adult Literature (2001 and 2002). The major awards are given by the Philippine Board on Books for Young People. They include the PBBY-Salanga Writer's Prize for excellence in writing and the PBBY-Alcala Illustrator's Prize for excellence in illustration. The Ceres Alabado Award for Outstanding Contribution in Children's Literature; the Gintong Aklat Award (Golden Book Award); The Gawad Komisyon para sa Kuwentong Pambata (Commission Award for Children's Literature in Filipino) and the National Book Award (given by the Manila Critics' Circle) for Outstanding Production in Children's Books and Young Adult Literature.
  • Online: the Cybils Awards, or Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, are the first major series of book awards given by children's and young adult book bloggers.

See alsoEdit

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ListsEdit

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Biography of Nancy A. Anderson, EdD". http://www.nancyaanderson.com/. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  2. Anderson 2006, p. 2.
  3. Card, Orson Scott (November 5, 2001). "Hogwarts". Uncle Orson Reviews Everything. Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2001-11-05.shtml. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  4. Liukkonen, Petri (2008). "Mark Twain". http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/mtwain.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  5. Anderson 2006
  6. Anderson 2006, pp. 84–85.
  7. Anderson 2006, p. 89.
  8. Leader, Zachary, Reading Blake's Songs, p.1
  9. Leader, Zachary, Reading Blake's Songs, p.3
  10. See Ruth Bottigheimer: Fairy tales, old wives and printing presses. History Today, 31 December 2003. Retrieved 3 March 2011. Subscription required.
  11. Elias Bredsdorff, Hans Christian Andersen: the story of his life and work 1805–75, Phaidon (1975) ISBN 0-7148-1636-1
  12. Book Trade Announcements (Monday 2 March 2009). "Penguin Group Announces Record 2008 Profits". Press release. http://www.booktrade.info/index.php/showarticle/20011. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  13. Immroth, Barbara Froling, and Kathleen de la Peña McCook. 2000. Library services to youth of Hispanic heritage. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. Toggle expanding/contracting information section Harvard (18th ed.)

ReferencesEdit

  • Anderson, Nancy (2006). Elementary Children's Literature. Boston: Pearson Education. ISBN 0205452299. 
  • Chapleau, Sebastien (2004). New Voices in Children's Literature Criticism. Lichfield: Pied Piper Publishing. ISBN 9780954638443. 
  • Huck, Charlotte (2001). Children's Literature in the Elementary School, 7th ed.. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0072322284. 
  • Hunt, Peter (1991). Criticism, Theory, and Children's Literature. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0631162313. 
  • Hunt, Peter (1996). International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415088569. 
  • Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin (1996). "Defining Children's Literature and Childhood". In Hunt, Peter (ed.). International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. London: Routledge. pp. 17–31. ISBN 0415088569. 
  • Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin (1994). Children's Literature: Criticism and the Fictional Child. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0198119984. 
  • Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin (2004). Children's Literature: New Approaches. Basingstoke: Palgrave. ISBN 1403917388. 
  • Rose, Jacqueline (1993, orig. pub. 1984). The Case of Peter Pan or the Impossibility of Children's Fiction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812214358. 
  • Wolf, Shelby (2010). Handbook of Research in Children's and Young Adult Literature. Cambridge: Routledge. ISBN 9780415965064. 

Further readingEdit

  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, ed. by Jack Zipes, Oxford [etc.]: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006, 4 vls.

External linksEdit

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