What is literature for children?
Children's literature (also called juvenile literature) consists of the books, stories, and poems which are enjoyed by or targeted primarily at children. Modern children's literature is classified in different ways, including by genre or the intended age of the reader.
Children's literature can be divided a number ways. Two useful divisions are genre and intended age of the reader.
Children's literature by genre
A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by technique, tone, content, or length. Anderson lists six categories of children's literature, with some significant subgenres:
- Picture books, including board books, concept books (teaching an alphabet or counting for example), pattern books, and wordless books.
- Traditional literature, including folktales, which convey the legends, customs, superstitions, and beliefs of people in past times. This genre can be further broken down into myths, fables, legends, and fairy tales
- Fiction, including fantasy, realistic fiction, and historical fiction.
- Biography and autobiography.
- Poetry and verse.
Children's literature by age category
The criteria for these divisions are vague and books near a borderline may be classified either way. Books for younger children tend to be written in very simple language, use large print, and have many illustrations. Books for older children use increasingly complex language, normal print, and fewer, if any, illustrations.
- · Picture books appropriate for pre-readers or ages 0–5.
- · Early Reader Books appropriate for children age 5–7. These books are often designed to help a child build his or her reading skills.
- · Chapter book appropriate for children ages 7–12.
ü Short chapter books, appropriate for children ages 7–9.
ü Longer chapter books, appropriate for children ages 9–12.
- · Young-adult fiction appropriate for children age 12–18.
According to Aspects and Issues in the History of Children's Literature from the International Research Society for Children's Literature, the development of literature for children anywhere in the world follows the same basic path. All children's literature, whatever its current stage of development, begins with spoken stories, songs and poems. In the beginning the same tales that adults tell and enjoy are adapted for children. Then stories are created specifically for children, to educate, instruct and entertain them. In the final stage literature for children is established as separate from that of adults, having its own genres, divisions, expectations and canon.The development of children's literature is influenced by the social, educational, political and economic resources of the country or ethnic group.
Authors of children´s literature.
Charles Perrault (12 January 1628 – 16 May 1703) was a French author and member of the Académie française. He laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from pre-existing folk tales. The best known of his tales include Le Petit Chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots) and La Barbe bleue (Bluebeard). Many of Perrault's stories were rewritten by the Brothers Grimm, continue to be printed and have been adapted to opera, ballet (such as Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty), theatre, and film (Disney). Perrault was an influential figure in the 17th century French literary scene, and was the leader of the Modern faction during the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns.
The Brothers Grimm (German: Brüder Grimm or Die Gebrüder Grimm), Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), were Germanic academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who together collected folklore. They are among the most well-known storytellers of European folk tales, and their work popularized such stories as "Cinderella" (Aschenputtel), "The Frog Prince" (Der Froschkönig), "Hansel and Gretel" (Hänsel und Gretel), "Rapunzel", "Rumpelstiltskin" (Rumpelstilzchen), and "Snow White" (Schneewittchen). Their first collection of folk tales, Children's and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen), was published in 1812.
The brothers spent their formative years first in the German town of Hanau and then in Steinau. Their father's death in 1796, about a decade into their lives, caused great poverty for the family and affected the brothers for many years. They attended the University of Marburg where historian and jurist Friedrich von Savigny spurred their interest in philology and Germanic studies—a field in which they are now considered pioneers—and at the same time developed a curiosity for folklore, which grew into a lifelong dedication to collecting German folk tales.
The rise of romanticism in the 19th century revived interest in traditional folk stories, which to the Grimm brothers represented a pure form of national literature and culture. With the goal of researching a scholarly treatise on folk tales, the brothers established a methodology for collecting and recording folk stories that became the basis for folklore studies. Between 1812 and 1857 their first collection was revised and published many times, and grew from 86 stories to more than 200. In addition to writing and modifying folk tales, the brothers wrote collections of well-respected German and Scandinavian mythologies and in 1808 wrote a definitive German dictionary (Deutsches Wörterbuch) that remained incomplete in their lifetime.
The popularity of the Grimms' collected folk tales endured well beyond their lifetimes. The tales are available in more than 100 translations and have been adapted to popular Disney films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. In the mid-20th century the tales were used as propaganda by the Third Reich; later in the 20th century psychologists such as Bruno Bettelheim reaffirmed the value of the work, in spite of the cruelty and violence in the original versions of some of the tales that were sanitized.
Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen often referred to by his initials H. C. Andersen; (April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."
During his lifetime he was acclaimed for having delighted children worldwide, and was feted by royalty. His poetry and stories have been translated into more than 150 languages. They have inspired motion pictures, plays, ballets, and animated films.