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The Children's Literature Portal


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. Read more...


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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.

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Illustration by Jessie Wilcox Smith
Credit: Jessie Wilcox Smith

A girl reading, by children's illustrator Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863–1935)

In this month

Hans Christian Andersen

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Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in the streets, where the blades of grass don't grow, everything is like everything else. This is why children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governesses, and nurses; but I know. And so do you now. Children in the country are naughty sometimes, too, but that is for quite different reasons.

Selected biography

Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon is a 20th-century American author and "one of the most celebrated writers of his generation," according to the The Virginia Quarterly Review. His first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), was published when Chabon was 25 and catapulted him to literary celebrity. He followed it with a second novel, Wonder Boys (1995), and two short-story collections. In 2000, Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a critically acclaimed novel that The New York Review of Books called his magnum opus; it received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. His most recent novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, an alternate history mystery novel, was published in 2007 to enthusiastic reviews and won the Hugo, Sidewise, and Nebula awards. His work is characterized by complex language, frequent use of metaphor, and an extensive vocabulary, along with numerous recurring themes, including nostalgia, divorce, abandonment, fatherhood, and issues of Jewish identity. He often includes gay, bisexual, and Jewish characters in his work. Since the late 1990s, Chabon has written in an increasingly diverse series of styles for varied outlets; he is a notable defender of the merits of genre fiction and plot-driven fiction, and, along with novels, he has published screenplays, children's books, comics, and newspaper serials.

Did you know...

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes

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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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