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Portal:Children's literature

The Children's Literature Portal


Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are enjoyed by 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 stories 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. 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. Read more...


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Frontispiece to Original Stories
Original Stories from Real Life; with Conversations Calculated to Regulate the Affections, and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness is the only complete work of children's literature by 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. It begins with a frame story, which sketches out the education of two young girls by their maternal teacher Mrs. Mason, proceeded by a series of didactic tales. The book was first published by Joseph Johnson in 1788; a second, illustrated edition, with engravings by William Blake, was released in 1791 and remained in print for around a quarter of a century. Wollstonecraft employs the burgeoning genre of children's literature to promote the education of women and an emerging middle-class ideology. She argues that women can be rational adults if they are educated properly as children (not a widely-held belief in the 18th century) and contends that the nascent middle-class ethos is superior to the court culture represented by fairy tales and to the values of chance and luck found in chapbook stories for the poor.

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Polly by Kate Greenaway
Credit: Kate Greenaway

Polly, from Bret Harte's The Queen of the Pirate Isle (1885), illustrated by Kate Greenaway

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Brothers Grimm

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Yours was a promise hard to keep. But by it you have freed me from a witch's spell. Years ago she changed me from a prince into a frog. A frog I should stay, she said, until I should find a princess who would let me sit beside her at the table and eat from her plate and drink from her cup and even sleep in her bed. She thought that would never be. But it is done and I am free. Now I shall be king and I wish you to be my queen.

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J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling is a British writer and author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold nearly 400 million copies. The 2007 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £545 million, ranking her as the 136th richest person and the 13th richest woman in Britain. Forbes has named Rowling the second-richest female entertainer in the world, and ranked her as the 48th most powerful celebrity of 2007. Time named Rowling as a runner-up for their 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fandom. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and One Parent Families. Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated $15 billion (£7 billion), and the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages.

Did you know...

Carol Chomsky

  • ...that linguist Carol Chomsky (pictured) developed the technique of repeated reading, in which children gain fluency by reading along with a recording of a text until they can do so on their own?
  • ...that Ebba Haslund's adolescence novel Nothing Happened was virtually ignored by the press when it was first issued in Norwegian in 1948, but was later regarded as one of her most important books?
  • ... that English dramatist Edward Rose published The Rose Reader, "a new way of teaching to read," that only used words that were spelled as they sounded?

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Children's literature and Young adult literature

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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