History of children’s litrature

The oldest body of oral literature included Aesop’s fables, myths, and legends. These literatures were created to teach about or explain some of the key natural phenomena. The most common were the epic tales told by storytellers such as Aesop to mixed audience of childrenand adults. Legends such as the adventure of heroes were later written down or children’s entertainment. In the Middle Ages here were many children literature starting with the school texts written by Venerable Bede and Aelfric.  The first Aesop fable publisher was William Caxton from England in 1484. Later in 1485, Sir Thomas Malory published Morte d’Arthur. Most of the early children’s literature was printed sheets of texts. These texts were mounted on woods and more often, they were covered with translucent animal horn (the horn books).

The first hornbook was written on the 15th century to teach letters of the alphabet to children followed by hornbook specifically designed to teach numerals. In the 16th century, the Lord’s Prayer was put on a hornbook, the chapbook as well as battledore. However, the chapbooks were inexpensive books sold by chapmen due to their crude printing. Never the less, the most important children’s literature was “The New England Primer” published in 1689. By the 18th century, the children’s books become more didactic for both moral and intellectual our poses. The puritan influence of literature mainly emphasized the moral development of children

According to Nikolajeva, Johannes Gutenberg’s discovery of movable type contributed to the progress of the children’s literature and may have inspired the 15th and 16th century storytellers.  Johannes Gutenberg’s discovery lead to the inclusion of children’s literate in books (44-50). However, while the 560 BCE Aesop’s fables were not given much consideration, they were important  to the development of children’s literature, as children grew up reading from the 620bc Aesopica’s which were mainly used to teach the  people about great truths.

The history of children’s literature was most strongly influenced by social attitude towards children.  The earliest history of children’s literature can be traced back to the 16th century. Around this time, the children’s literature began with the oral tradition. Most of the storytellers in the 16th century played a major literary role. However, in the sixteenth century, the storytellers were entertainers unlike the modern American children’s authors who are educators. However, in the feudal Europe, the stories for the children were considered unnecessary. This attitude towards children was premised upon the argument that children were small adults. Therefore, they should be trained to enter the adult life faster. However, Hintz, and Tribunella argued that John Locke campaigned against this attitude because he believed that churned were supposed to go through a period of childhood because it was a part of cognitive development (34-45). This was water later followed by the translation of most juvenile books to children books when Charles Perrault’s argued that fairy tales should be  restricted  to the world of children and this lead to the  development of the 1698 original “Mother Goose” retelling the French fairy tales include Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty.


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