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 made 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 stories such as 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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Harper Lee receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007
To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was instantly successful upon its release and has become a classic of modern American fiction. The novel is loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old. The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator's father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers, and a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explained the novel's impact by writing, "[i]n the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism." As a Southern Gothic novel and a bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence, but scholars have also noted that Lee addresses the issues of class tensions, courage and compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South. The book is widely taught in schools in English-speaking countries with lessons that emphasize tolerance and decry prejudice. Despite its themes, To Kill a Mockingbird has been the target of various campaigns to have it removed from public classrooms.

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

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In Adam's Fall
We sinned all.

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Christopher Smart
Christopher Smart (11 April 1722 – 21 May 1771) was an English poet. He was a major contributor to two popular magazines and a friend to influential cultural icons like Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding. Smart, a high church Anglican, was widely known throughout London. Smart was infamous for his role as "Mrs. Mary Midnight" and widespread accounts of his father-in-law, John Newbery, locking him away in a mental asylum for many years over Smart's supposed religious "mania". Even after Smart's eventual release, a negative reputation continued to pursue him as he was known for incurring more debt than he could pay off; this ultimately led to his confinement in debtor's prison until his death. Smart's two most widely-known works are A Song to David and Jubilate Agno, both at least partly written during his confinement in asylum. However, Jubilate Agno was not to be published until 1939 and A Song to David received mixed reviews until the 19th century. To his contemporaries, Smart was known mainly for his many contributions in the journals The Midwife and The Student, along with his famous Seaton Prize poems and his mock epic The Hilliad. Although he is primarily recognized as a religious poet, his poetry includes various other themes, such as his theories on nature and his promotion of English nationalism. Some of his most famous religious poetry is Hymns for the Amusement of Children, one of the first books of hymns expressly written for a juvenile audience.

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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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