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Children's Literature

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 1400s, a large quantity of literature, often with a moral or religious message, has been aimed specifically at children. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries became known as the "Golden Age of Children's Literature" as this period included the publication of many books acknowledged today as classics.'s_literature 

Fairy tales
Fairy tales
Often when parent thinks of children’s stories, fairy tales automatically come to mind. Consider the great Disney classics, Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, and more: most are based on fairy tales or classic literature. Modern storytelling harkens back to the classics because the stories are timeless, they echo throughout our consciousness with universal, archetypal themes.

International Children’s Book Day will be celebrated and was established by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), in 1967, on April 2, the date assumed as the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, the famous writer of fairy tales. Different national chapters of the IBBY sponsor each annual event. Russia is this year’s sponsor.
Great Literature?
Great Literature?
Due to the simplicity of children’s stories, particularly those written for very young children, people may assume that children’s stories must be inferior to literature written for adults. Of course, not every children’s tale falls under the category of “serious work of art.” The great ones, according to Children’s Literature Classics, “are powerful, imaginative, and memorable; they resonate with readers of all ages and have a lasting and profound impact.” The pervasive influence can be understood by a simple search on works that can be labeled as retellings of ancient favorites.

In fact, it may be more difficult to write a great book for an audience of children than for adults. Many famous authors have been quoted as advising aspiring writers to ensure that every word written fulfills a purpose. Perhaps as much as, if not more than, necessary for literature written for adults, every word in a children’s book must contribute to the work’s overall purpose. 

The language of children’s literature must also meet additional challenges. It must engage the young reader and challenge his vocabulary and comprehension, too, without defeating him or discouraging his curiosity or eagerness to learn. Any writer who can accomplish that deserves recognition of a rare skill. Additional kudos go to the children’s book writer who can entertain the adults who read those book to their children.
A Quick History
A Quick History
Fairy tales were not originally composed for children. Rife with violence and sexual connotation, they spoke to adult fears and fantasies. Experts note that novels written specifically for children didn’t appear much before the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in 1865. The paucity of children’s literature can be attributed to the commonplace assumption that “children were viewed as adults-in-training.” According to World Heritage Encyclopedia, the bulk of children’s stories evolved from oral tradition in stories, poems, and songs handed down from one generation to the next.

In the mid-19th century, views regarding children slowly began to turn and adults began to believe that children ought to be protected from the harsh realities of life. That attitude change resulted in the sanitizing of fairy tales and other stories often told to children. In the latter half of the 20th century, children’s literature began to lose its luster of all sweetness and light and address the unpleasant realities of death, violence, divorce, abandonment, bigotry, bullying, etc.
The Best Children's Literature
The Best Childrens Literature
Experts agree that reading to very young children and exposing them to literature yields nothing but good results: improved comprehension, improved analytic skills, improved vocabulary, and more. However, not all literature is created equal: some books really are better than others in the lessons they teach and the concepts they introduce and address. That does not mean, however, that anyone--much less children--craves a steady diet of brussels sprouts and kale. The most effective approach may be to sweeten the diet with pure entertainment which then leads to meatier and more mentally nutritional offerings.

The best literature is that which engages. That holds true at every age. The World Library puts at every young reader’s fingertips a wealth of stories that have taught, informed, and entertained youngsters for centuries. 

For a list of the most popular Children’s Literature by Ages check out our Must Have Books.

By Karen M. Smith

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