by Jennifer Valentine-Miller
The Golden age saw a shift to a modern genre of children’s literature occur in the mid-19th century, as the informative qualities of a previous age began to make way for more humorous, child-oriented books, more attuned to the child’s imagination.
The availability of children’s literature greatly increased as well, as paper and printing became widely available and affordable, the population grew and literacy rates improved. Today, many parents seem to be in a huge rush for their kids to read J. K. ROWLING and Harry Potter. As soon as most children get beyond the Junie B Jones and Magic Treehouse books some parents run out and buy Harry Potter forgetting the true foundation behind the series. Even Barnes & Noble and as well, Amazon, list the Harry Potter collection as suitable for nine to twelve olds.
When elementary school readers are given Harry Potter to read, they start the book, perhaps even making it through the second in the series and stop, deciding that they don’t like Harry Potter and generally don’t pick the rest of the series. Having seen the colourful screen adaptation, many parents seem to be in a huge rush for their children to read Harry Potter, after having decided that their young child has outgrown the colour and splendour of WALT DISNEY’S wizardry and dragons. Or is it because of the multi-million commercial aspect, parents who are confounded because every child likes Harry Potter and it is the ultimate chapter book, so why not their child? Harry Potter is much harder than most children’s and young adult (and adult) books. Not only are they very difficult to read but the books are very long and there are seven of them which is a lot for a young reader. Not only are they very difficult to read but the books are very long and there are seven of them which is a lot for a young reader. Professor Jack Zipes from the University of Minnesota asked the question, are we a childist society? – and – what role does literature play in dealing with child neglect and abandonment?
In 1883 the first Italian fantasy novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio was written, and it has since been translated many times.
Another important book of that decade was The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, (1862), which became extremely popular in England, and has remained a classic of British children’s literature.
In Britain, The Princess and the Goblin (1872) and its sequel The Princess and Curdie, followed in 1883.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON
Hans Christian Anderson was a Danish author and poet who travelled through Europe and gathered in the early 19th century, many well-known Fairy Tales. He was followed by the Brothers Grimm, who preserved the traditional tales told in Germany. They were so popular in their home country that modern, realistic children’s literature began to be looked down on there. This dislike of non-traditional stories continued there until the beginning of the next century. The Grimm’s contribution to children’s literature goes beyond their collection of stories, as great as that is. As professors, they had a scholarly interest in all their stories, striving to preserve them and their variations accurately.
J. M. BARRIE
In 1911 the world was presented with the story of Peter Pan in the novel Peter and Wendy.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778 who argued that children should be allowed to develop naturally and joyously. His idea of appealing to children’s natural interests took hold among writers for children. His theories urged children to teach themselves. While John Locke (1693) argued children were the tabula rasa (blank slate) upon which ideas could be impressed, Rousseau countered by saying children developed at their own pace and on their own terms. Though Locke’s and Rousseau’s philosophies seem opposed, they both highlight the role of children’s books in the creation of child development.
In 1880-1881 Spyri published the two-part novel Heidi was published in Switzerland.
The Little Pretty Pocket-Book and The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes began the origins of the modern era in literature. These were Newbery’s most popular books with Good Two-Shoes widely considered as the first modern children’s book, published in 1744. It was a landmark as the first children’s publication aimed at giving enjoyment to children, containing a mixture of rhymes, picture stories and games for pleasure. Newbery believed that the play was a better enticement to children’s good behavior than physical discipline, and the child was to record his or her behavior daily. The modern children’s book emerged in mid-18th century England. The book was child–sized with a brightly coloured cover that appealed to children—something new in the publishing industry. Known as gift books, these early books became the precursors to the toy books popular in the 19th century. Newbery was also skilled at marketing this new genre.
JONATHAN DAVID WYSS
This popular family novel, The Swiss Family Robinson in 1812, with the aim of teaching children about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. The book became popular across Europe after it was translated into French by Isabelle de Montolieu.
JOSEPH “RUDYARD” KIPLING
Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including:
*The Jungle Book (1894) we read how Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear had difficulty trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization.
*Just So Stories (1902)
*Kim (1901, a tale of adventure)
*The Man Who Would Be King (1888)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865 in England that signaled the change in writing style for children to an imaginative and empathetic one. Regarded as the first “English masterpiece written for children” and as a founding book in the development of fantasy literature, its publication opened the “First Golden Age” of children’s literature in Britain and Europe that continued until the early 1900s.
LUISA MAY ALCOTT
The “historic book” Little Women was produced in, 1868, this book was based along the fictionalized autobiography of Louisa May Alcott.
This “coming of age” story established the genre of realistic family books in the United States. Mark Twain released Tom Sawyer in 1876, and in 1880 another bestseller Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, based on African American folk tales special adapted and compiled for a wider global audience by Joel Chandler Harris.
In 1865 the United States’ children’s publishing era entered a period of growth after the American Civil War in 1865 when boys’ – books were produced. Oliver Optic published over 100 books.
Referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century”. Among his awards are for contribution to literature, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1983, and Children’s Author of the Year from the British Book Awards in 1990.
His works include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Treasure Island and Kidnapped were extremely popular in the 1880’s.
Tom Brown’s School Days appeared in 1857, and is considered to be the founding book in the school story tradition.