Portal:Children's literature

The Children's Literature Portal

Egyptian boys reading

Ben Barber (USAID)


Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are created for children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader.

Children's literature can be traced to traditional stories like fairy tales, that have only been identified as children's literature in the eighteenth century, and songs, part of a wider oral tradition, that adults shared with children before publishing existed. The development of early children's literature, before printing was invented, is difficult to trace. Even after printing became widespread, many classic "children's" tales were originally created for adults and later adapted for a younger audience. Since the fifteenth century much literature has been aimed specifically at children, often with a moral or religious message. Children's literature has been shaped by religious sources, like Puritan traditions, or by more philosophical and scientific standpoints with the influences of Charles Darwin and John Locke. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are known as the "Golden Age of Children's Literature" because many classic children's books were published then. (Full article...)


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Tolkien in 1916
The Hobbit is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic in children's literature. Set in a time "Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men", The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo's journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into darker, deeper territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien's Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo develops a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom. Themes of personal growth and forms of heroism figure in the story. Along with conflict, these themes lead critics to cite Tolkien's own experiences, and those of other writers who fought in World War I, as instrumental in shaping the story. The author's scholarly knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature and interest in fairy tales are also often noted as influences. Due to the book's critical and financial success, Tolkien's publishers requested a sequel, which became The Lord of the Rings. The work has never been out of print since the paper shortages of the Second World War. Its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, and gaming, both board and video games.

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Alphabet book
Credit: J. E. Friedberg

German alphabet book from 1830

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German refugee child, a devotee of Superman reading a Superman comic book, October 1942

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"Perhaps," she said, "to be able to learn things quickly isn't everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people."

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Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon is a 20th-century American author and "one of the most celebrated writers of his generation," according to the The Virginia Quarterly Review. His first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), was published when Chabon was 25 and catapulted him to literary celebrity. He followed it with a second novel, Wonder Boys (1995), and two short-story collections. In 2000, Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a critically acclaimed novel that The New York Review of Books called his magnum opus; it received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. His most recent novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, an alternate history mystery novel, was published in 2007 to enthusiastic reviews and won the Hugo, Sidewise, and Nebula awards. His work is characterized by complex language, frequent use of metaphor, and an extensive vocabulary, along with numerous recurring themes, including nostalgia, divorce, abandonment, fatherhood, and issues of Jewish identity. He often includes gay, bisexual, and Jewish characters in his work. Since the late 1990s, Chabon has written in an increasingly diverse series of styles for varied outlets; he is a notable defender of the merits of genre fiction and plot-driven fiction, and, along with novels, he has published screenplays, children's books, comics, and newspaper serials.

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The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes

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Children's literature: Book talkChildren's literature criticismChildren's literature periodicalsInternational Children's Digital LibraryNative Americans in children's literature

Children and Young Adult Literature topics

Young adult literature: Gay teen fictionLesbian teen fictionList of young adult authorsYoung Adult Library Services Association

Associations and awards: Children's Book Council of AustraliaCBCA book awardsGovernor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature and IllustrationIBBY CanadaAmerican Library AssociationAssociation for Library Service to ChildrenNewbery MedalCaldecott MedalGolden Kite AwardEzra Jack Keats Book AwardSCBWISibert MedalLaura Ingalls Wilder MedalBatchelder AwardCoretta Scott King AwardBelpre MedalCarnegie MedalKate Greenaway MedalNestlé Smarties Book PrizeGuardian AwardHans Christian Andersen AwardAstrid Lindgren Memorial AwardSociety of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Lists: List of children's classic booksList of children's literature authorsList of children's non-fiction writersList of fairy talesList of illustratorsList of publishers of children's books

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