From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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.
- Book talk
- Children's literature canon
- Children's literature criticism
- Children's literature timeline
- International Children's Digital Library
- Native Americans in children's literature
- Young-adult literature
- List of children's classic books
- List of children's literature authors
- List of children's non-fiction writers
- List of fairy tales
- List of illustrators
- List of publishers of children's books