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History of Children’s Literature Children’s literature is a relatively new kind of literature • Before 1850, books taught lessons on manners and morals •Books also contained lessons on the ideas of history and science that existed at the time Children’s Books • Children found the books dull, so they read stories intended for adults – Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving Advantages in reading adult books: • Made it possible for children to live more lives than one • Able to find new friends, laughter, knowledge, and an understanding of people of all ages in all parts of the world Early Beginnings • In 600 A.D., the Old English period, monks and other learned men wrote “lesson books” for children Early Beginnings • Aldhelm (640?-700AD), Bishop of Sherborne, was probably the first man to write lesson books for children – Riddles and puzzles children had to solve were written in Latin – He set the pattern for all books of instruction from that time up to 1500 AD – All books used question and answer form and were written in verse Early Beginnings • The Venerable Bede (763-735AD) was a teacher at a monastery school – His lessons showed more imagination – They were a spark of learning in the Dark Ages – They contained all the knowledge then known of natural science, natural history, and the study of plants and flowers and stars Early Beginnings • Egbert of York (766 AD) founded the famous school of York – Collected the works of the previous monks and books by outstanding Greek and Roman authors – Wrote a variety of lesson books, still using question answer (dialogue) method and Early Beginnings • Egbert of York (766 AD) [continued] – Wrote many books on grammar – Tutored sons and daughters of the household at the court of Charlemagne (the first Holy Roman Emperor) – This is also one of the earliest records of co-education Early Beginnings • Alfred the Great (849-399 AD), King of England drove back the invasion of the Danes – He translated Latin literature into Anglo-Saxon with the help of many scholars The Hornbook • The final text was “The Lord’s Prayer.” • The next piece of text was the words “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.” The Renaissance • After the hornbook, rhymed alphabets and primers were published for children – The Royal Primer had a letter of alphabet, followed by a familiar verse – A In Adam’s fall, we sinned all The Renaissance • This primer sold million copies during the hundred years it was used as a text book for younger children • The Royal Primer was followed by the New England Primer, published in Boston in 1690 • [Remember, the pilgrims arrived in 1620.] Puritan Times • In the 1600s in England and America, children’s books were rather gloomy • They reflected the Puritan outlook, which was one that was more interested in the fear of God than in the love of life Puritan Times • Books for children were either reprints of English publications or local writings that were even drearier • First important illustrated book for children was written by John Amos Comenius, a bishop of Moravia in 1651 – Comenius believed in teaching children by visual means •Book was written in Latin and German, translated into English in 1659 The 1700s • John Newbery was a writer, publisher, and bookseller of St Paul’s Church, London • He published a series of books for children • He recognized they had special interests and tried to meet them The 1700s • Newbery printed chapbooks, cheap little paper editions, which were sold on the streets by chapmen (peddlers) • They contained ballads and folktales • The ordinary person could afford to buy these books The 1700s • Newbery also published translations from the French: – Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Perrault – It was considered beneath the dignity of authors to write books for children, so they were published without any name attached The 1700s • It is also believed that Perrault wrote “Blue Beard,” “The Three Witches,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Red Riding Hood.” • Madame de Beaumont, a lady in the king’s court, wrote “Beauty and the Beast.” The Early 1800s • In the beginning of the 1800s, children’s literature became more honestly creative • Real literary authors could write for children and not damage their reputations The Early 1800s • Charles and Mary Lamb, brother and sister, wrote to give children pleasure • They worked together (in 1807) to write a children’s version of Shakespeare’s plays The Early 1800s • Jane and Ann Taylor wrote poems for children • Kate Greenaway did the illustrations • Jane wrote the famous little poem, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” And Then • A period of change began in the next 50 years • Authors had a profound influence on children’s literature And Then • Jacob Ludwig and Wilhelm Carl Grimm traveled around Germany, talking to people and collecting folk stories • Their collection was translated into English in 1824 And Then • Hans Christian Anderson, in 1841, wrote “modern” fairy tales, so called because Anderson actually created them and copied old ways of telling stories • Some of his stories are “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
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