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Children's Literature Essay

756 words - 4 pages

A history of Western children’s literature begins with oral tradition in which spoken stories, commonly described as “folklore,” “folk literature,” or “mythology,” are spoken aloud. This oral tradition predates written history and prior to the 1700’s there was little evidence of a childhood culture. The stories of oral tradition shared during those times were told to both children and adults (Kiefer, 2010, p.65). These oral stories such as Beowulf, King Arthur, and other ballads were often told by minstrels, adjusted to suit the audience (Kiefer, 2010, p.66). Some early books, such as Elucidarium, were written to provide children with general knowledge. Many children adopted fanciful ...view middle of the document...

In the 1960s, children’s literary works saw a significant advancement with “new realism in children’s literature,” which promoted frank stories and thinking about social issues (Kiefer, 2010, p. 79). For example, Harriet the Spy encourages children to speak up and say what they believe while others keep quiet due to social pressures. Children are allowed an opportunity to think about very serious subjects such as death and suicide in Where the Lilies Bloom. Another example is in I’ll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip, in which children are exposed to stories of alcoholism and homosexuality. While many of these subjects are uncomfortable even for adults, they give children the opportunity to explore and cope with social issues that they may or may not have encountered (Kiefer, 2010, p.79-80).
In contemporary children’s literature, the exposure children receive expands even further. With our struggle to find social justice and equality to respects of race and creed, children’s books have started promoting more and more multi-cultural awareness within the last forty years (Kiefer, 2010, p.82). Under the Spell of the Moon provides children with art and illustrations from many different cultures all over the world (Kiefer, 2010, p.87). Children can read from the perspective of a young Native American girl in 1847 while reading historical fiction in The...

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