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Devlopment Of Children's Lit Essay

2277 words - 10 pages

In fact, it is late in the seventeenth century that John Locke, in his Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), expresses that the minds of the young need to be brought to learning through methods that are more easily accessed through simple words and ideas, as well as illustrations that give children better understanding and enjoyment. It was indeed in the influence of the great thinkers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that brought innovative approaches that viewed children as an audience worthy of specified attention. Such attention sought to instill value in reading, not only for education, but also for enjoyment, shaping young minds through choice rather than compulsion. ...view middle of the document...

In 1744, John Newbery, influenced by thinkers like Locke and others, produced A Little Pretty-Pocket-Book and turned a new leaf for children’s literature. Newbery was among the first to publish books with the intent to delight and amuse young readers, and though he sought to educate young minds, it was done so implicitly. The success Newbery found was the key planting the seeds of what would become modern children’s literature and its proliferation.
The nineteenth century is generally considered the golden age of children’s literature. It is here that we see the evolution from didactic instruction toward more humorous, child-centered works. The early years of the nineteenth century are largely influenced by the publication of traditional folktales. With Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, we see expansion in the publication of the stories that had been such an important part of the oral tradition in storytelling. In the mid-1800s, we also see the publication of books we now consider children’s classics, novels like C.S. Lewis’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868), Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer (1876), and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883) among others. We also see the evolution of picture books come about with improvement in technology, and printers and illustrators like Edmund Evans and Randolph Caldecott produced visually appealing books that brought the world of children’s literature to life. The ready availability of books, in both affordability and access, coupled with rising literacy makes literature more and more common, no longer being reserved for the elite. In this era, children’s lives and values are better-represented, and literature has given them their own special place. It is unfortunate, then, that though the world of children has expanded in the ways they are related to and represented in literature, not all children are being represented or respected in ways that recognize their value or unique cultures and perspectives.
It was not until the 1960s that we experience another clear, major evolution in children’s literature. The 1960s were a time of cultural revolution not only in children’s literature, but also in the United States and the world at large. People began to see and actively respond to the injustices in the world. In 1965, Nancy Larrick published “The All White World of Children’s Books” in The Saturday Review, and in it she explicitly points out the problems of American children’s literature and its lack of minority representation, namely African-Americans as noted by Larrick’s article. In light of the Civil Rights Movement, it was astonishing to see that minorities when represented, (which was not entirely common), were either presented in stereotypical and sometimes denigrated ways or they were white-washed and little attention or respect was paid to cultural differences. We see themes of inclusion and opening up in the world of...

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