March 30, 2012

Book 101 - Children's Literature

Let me start this post with a rather surprising fact. Children's literature as such probably only ever started in the 17th century. It is generally believed that before then books were written mainly for adults. Obviously, at the time, most printed works were hardly affordable for everyone due to their cost and were thus mostly available for purchase by upper class society.

Copyright by Meg Fish

But what exactly is children's literature? Depending on who you ask, children's literature may be books written by children, such as the juvenilia of Jane Austen, written to amuse brothers and sisters, as well as books written for children, such as J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Then there is the interesting distinction of books that are chosen for children or chosen by them, the first being a very restrictive definition, while the latter is certainly the broadest definition of children's literature, because it applies to books that are actually selected and read by children. Definitions vary and one of the key problems of defining it is that adult and children’s literature constantly slip into each other. Some books aren't exclusive to children either and if you've enjoyed Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a child you may re-read it as an adult and see the darker themes that were lost on you as a younger reader.

And some more facts for the road. Children's literature can be divided by genres as well as age category. Apart from picture books you'll find pretty much all genres common for adults here too. Being an age category opposite adult literature, it is divided further due to the divergent interests of children in their particular age groups. There are Picture Books for pre-readers ages 0–5, Early Reader Books appropriate for children age 5–7, Chapter Books appropriate for children ages 7–12, and last but not least Young-adult fiction appropriate for children age 13–18. The criteria for these divisions are rather vague though, and some books may be classified as different categories.

If you had to define children's literature would you include books written by children? Think Anne Frank here. And are there any children's books you re-read and enjoyed as an adult too? Let me know.


  1. I can read The Little Prince over and over again... I love this book!

  2. I have Corduroy! I can't tell you how many times I read that book growing up....maybe that's where I got my fancy for bear collecting. ;o) Have a great day! Hugs Jennifer

  3. Books for kids are great! I still own several favorites from my childhood, after all they are responsible for making such an avid reader of me.