The History of Children’s Literature
EDP1: Task 1
Western Governors University
Children’s literature is defined many different ways. It can be simply defined as a book that a child reads, or as Kiefer defined it “as the imaginative shaping of life and thought into the forms and structures of language.” (Kiefer, 2010, p.5) Literature has been around for hundreds of years, although not in the form that we are used to seeing now. There have always been stories to be told for as long as one can remember.
Before the days of bound books and magazines, there were stories that were told by people in the village around the campfires, or the bards and traveling entertainers telling stories to the court in the castles. This form
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The seventeenth century brought a time where books became more relevant and began to become available to many. The first picture book was made available during this exciting time. However, books were more focused on religion than on entertaining the children, therefore children still read the books that were written for adults to find literary entertainment. Finally, in the mid eighteenth century, the religious beliefs that had been the basis of books to this point yielded to the ideas of those such as John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and David Hume. These idea were what created the birth of children’s literature, and stories that were written for children. This transformation dates from 1744, which was the year the English publisher John Newbery printed A Little Pretty Pocket-Book. Newbery was influenced by John Locke’s Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), in which Locke maintained that as soon as children knew their alphabet they should be led to read for pleasure. (Kiefer, 2010 p.70) Newberry’s success in the idea of teaching children, and writing children’s literature paved the path for others to do the same. The birth of the children’s trade book industry was born! During Colonial America, books were written with specific themes in mind. One of the major themes of the Colonial American writing was religion. Religious teaching was a very important part of educating Puritan children, since Judeo-Christian beliefs