Children's literature  

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This page Children's literature is part of the comics series. Illustration: Little Nemo sitting upright in bed
This page Children's literature is part of the comics series.
Illustration: Little Nemo sitting upright in bed

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Children's literature is a literary genre whose primary audience is children, although many books within the genre are also enjoyed by adults.


Early children's literature consisted of spoken stories, songs, and poems, that would have been used to educate, instruct, and entertain children. It was only in the 18th century, with the development of the concept of "childhood", that a separate genre of children's literature began to emerge, with its own divisions, expectations, and canon.

French historian Philippe Ariès argued in his 1962 book Centuries of Childhood that the modern concept of "childhood" only emerged in recent times, and that for the greater part of history, children were not viewed as greatly different from adults, and were not given significantly different treatment. As evidence for this position, he noted that, apart from instructional and didactic texts for children written by clerics like the Venerable Bede, and Ælfric of Eynsham, there was a lack of any genuine literature aimed specifically at children before the 18th century.

Other scholars have qualified this viewpoint by noting that there was a literature designed to convey the values, attitudes, and information necessary for children within their cultures, such as the Play of Daniel from the 1100s. Pre-modern children's literature, therefore, tended to be of a didactic and moralistic nature, with the purpose of conveying conduct-related, educational and religious lessons.

See also


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Children's literature" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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