Portal:Children's literature

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Russell Lee

Children looking at picture books at school, Santa Clara, Utah

Children's literature is literature written for and/or marketed towards a primarily juvenile audience. While some books are authored for a youthful audience, others become associated with children through marketing or tradition. Still others are "crossover" books, read by children and adults alike. Literature addressed directly to children arose in Western Europe in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, becoming a very profitable industry in the 19th century. It includes picture books, fairy tales, animal stories, school stories, science fiction, fantasy, series fiction, chapter books, children's poetry, and other genres. Throughout its 300-year history, children's stories have reflected the values of the societies that produced them.

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"Puss in Boots" is a French literary fairy tale about a cat who uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth, and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master. The tale was written at the close of the seventeenth century by Charles Perrault, a retired civil servant and member of the Académie française. The book was an instant success and remains popular today. The tale's immorality has provoked some concern about its influence on young minds, but Perrault composed "Le Maistre Chat" and the other tales of Histoires to reinforce standards of civilized conduct in the upper-class French society of the seventeenth century rather than to provide amusement and instruction for the young. Indeed, Puss has been described by one commentator as "the epitome of the educated bourgeois secretary who serves his master with complete devotion and diligence." Perrault's Histoires has had considerable impact on world culture. The frontispiece to the earliest English editions depicts an old woman telling tales to a group of children beneath a placard inscribed 'MOTHER GOOSE'S TALES' and is credited with launching the Mother Goose legend in the English-speaking world.

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Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion
Credit: William Wallace Denslow

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) by L. Frank Baum

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The master of the week being short-sighted, and the parepostors of the week small, and not well up to their work, the lower school boys employ the ten minutes which elapse before their names are called, in pelting one another vigorously with acorns, which fly about in all directions. The small praepostors dash in every now and then, and generally chastise some quiet, timid boy, who is equally afraid of acorns and canes, while the principal performers get dexterously out of the way; and so calling-over rolls on somehow, much like the big world, punishments lighting on wrong shoulders, and matters going generally in a queer, cross-grained way, but the end coming somehow, which is after all the great point.

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Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest. As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain. Wilde wrote almost all of his major and minor works in the last decade of his life, including his fairy tales and short stories for children. He published three volumes of these, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories and A House of Pomegranates.

Did you know...

  • ...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 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 Template:/box-footer

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Literature on Wikinews     Literature on Wikiquote     Choosing High Quality Children's Literature on Wikibooks     Children's literature on Wikisource     Literature on Wiktionary     Children's literature on Wikimedia Commons
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