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Wikipedia:Today's featured article/December 16, 2009

Title page for an 1801 edition of Lessons for Children, part I

Lessons for Children is a series of four age-adapted reading primers written by prominent 18th-century British poet and essayist Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Published in 1778 and 1779, the books initiated a revolution in children's literature in the Anglo-American world. For the first time, the needs of the child reader were seriously considered: the typographically simple texts progress in difficulty as the child learns. In perhaps the first demonstration of experiential pedagogy in Anglo-American children's literature, Barbauld's books use a conversational style depicting a mother and her son discussing the natural world. Based on the educational theories of John Locke, Barbauld's books emphasize learning through the senses. One of the primary morals of Barbauld's lessons is that individuals are part of a community; in this she was part of a tradition of female writing that emphasized the interconnectedness of society. Charles, the hero of the texts, explores his relationship to nature, to animals, to people, and finally to God. Lessons had a significant effect on the development of children's literature in Britain and America. Maria Edgeworth, Sarah Trimmer, Jane Taylor, and Ellenor Fenn, to name a few of the most illustrious, were inspired to become children's authors because of Lessons and their works dominated children's literature for several generations. (more...)

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