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Introduction

A mother reads to her children, depicted by Jessie Willcox Smith in a cover illustration of a volume of fairy tales written in the mid to late 19th century.

Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are enjoyed by children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader.

Children's literature can be traced to stories and songs, part of a wider oral tradition, that adults shared with children before publishing existed. The development of early children's literature, before printing was invented, is difficult to trace. Even after printing became widespread, many classic "children's" tales were originally created for adults and later adapted for a younger audience. Since the fifteenth century much literature has been aimed specifically at children, often with a moral or religious message. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is known as the "Golden Age of Children's Literature", because many classic children's books were published then.

Selected article

Little Red Riding Hood
A fairy tale is a fictional story that may feature folkloric characters such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants, and talking animals, and usually enchantments, often involving a far-fetched sequence of events. In modern-day parlance, the term is also used to describe something blessed with princesses, as in "fairy tale ending" (a happy ending) or "fairy tale romance", though not all fairy tales end happily. Fairy tales commonly attract young children since they easily understand the archetypal characters in the story. Fairy tales are found in oral folktales and in literary form. The history of the fairy tale is particularly difficult to trace, because only the literary forms can survive. Still, the evidence of literary works at least indicates that fairy tales have existed for thousands of years, although not perhaps recognized as a genre. Literary fairy tales are found over the centuries all over the world, and when they collected them, folklorists found fairy tales in every culture. Fairy tales, and works derived from fairy tales, are still written today. The older fairy tales were intended for an audience of adults as well as children, but they were associated with children as early as the writings of the précieuses; the Brothers Grimm titled their collection Children's and Household Tales, and the link with children has only grown stronger with time.

Selected biography

Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Anna Laetitia Barbauld (/bɑːrˈbld/, by herself possibly /bɑrˈboʊ/, as in French) (née Aikin) (20 June 1743 – 9 March 1825) was a prominent 18th-century English poet, essayist, and children's author. A "woman of letters" who published in multiple genres, Barbauld had a successful writing career at a time when female professional writers were rare. She was a noted teacher at the celebrated Palgrave Academy and an innovative children's writer; her famous primers provided a model for pedagogy for more than a century. Her essays demonstrated that it was possible for a woman to be publicly engaged in politics, and other women authors emulated her. Even more importantly, her poetry was foundational to the development of Romanticism in England. Barbauld was also a literary critic, and her anthology of 18th-century British novels helped establish the canon as we know it today. Barbauld's literary career ended abruptly in 1812 with the publication of her poem Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, which criticized Britain's participation in the Napoleonic Wars. The vicious reviews shocked Barbauld and she published nothing else within her lifetime. Her reputation was further damaged when many of the Romantic poets she had inspired in the heyday of the French Revolution turned against her in their later, more conservative, years. Barbauld was remembered only as a pedantic children's writer during the 19th century, and largely forgotten during the 20th century, but the rise of feminist literary criticism in the 1980s renewed interest in her works and restored her place in literary history.

In this month

Mary Pickford as Little Lord Fauntleroy

Selected quote

Three blind mice,
Three blind mice,
See how they run!
See how they run!
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife;
Did you ever see such fun in your life
As three blind mice?

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Did you know...

Work by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel

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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 AwardEzra Jack Keats Book 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

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