ENGB35 Jan. 7/9, 2013
Children are: imaginative; impressionable; naïve; curious; intuitive; intelligent in
overlooked ways; carefree; creative; open-minded; impulsive; skewed moral compass
Childhood ends when: a moral/social view is developed; a sense of responsibility is
developed; self-actualization begins; society milestones
Definitions of children and childhood vary according to
“Childhood” and “children” are concepts whose meaning shifts over time and across
Children are not adults
Philippe Ariès: Centuries of Childhood, trans.1963
Category of “children‟‟ invented relatively recently
No pictures of children in medieval painting
o This may have been because 65% of children died before the age of five.
So there was no real point in painting a child if they‟re going to die.
Ariès argues there was no such thing as Medieval childhood
o The children were extensions of the adults. They were mini-adults.
NB argument applies only to western Europe
o There‟s no representation of other cultures.
Following Ariès, possible to argue that “children” as distinct category “invented”
What is literature?
What is the earliest children‟s literature?
Instruction / Delight
Grammar books, primers, text books ENGB35 Jan. 7/9, 2013
Puritan moral literature (late c17th)
Puritans believed that children were born evil and had to be saved so the works
would be following with this ideal.
Children are born in “original sin” and need to be saved
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3) vs. St. Augustine, below:
o “If anyone were offered the choice of suffering death or becoming a child
again, who would not recoil from the second alternative and choose to
die? Our infancy, indeed, by which we begin this life not with laughter but
with tears, seems unknowingly to prophesy the evils upon which we are
entering” (St. Augustine, City of God)
James Janeway: A Token for Children: Being an Exact Account of the
Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of Several young
o “Did you ever hear of a little Child that died? And if other Children die, why
may not you be sick, and die? And what will you do then, Child, if you
should have no grace in your heart, and be found like other naughty
o “Are you willing to go to hell and be burned like the Devil and his angels?
… O! hell is a terrible place … O, Child, this is certainly true, that all that
are wicked, and die so, must be turned into hell! and if any be once there,
there is no coming away again” (Janeway)
If we define children‟s literature as works designed to give children pleasure, and not
simply to teach them, there was no children‟s literature before the 1740s
Literature requires literacy; books cost money
Children‟s literature was (and arguably remains) a middle- and upper-class
Children are “invented” around the end of the seventeenth century, together with
the literature for them
Author Implied Author Narrator Story Narratee Implied reader
Books construct an implied reader: their ideal reader The implied child reader
John Newbery, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744): the “Instruction and Amusement” of
its readers ENGB35 Jan. 7/9, 2013
There were stories and morals. Also came with a ball for a boy and a pincushion
for a girl (gender roles?).
The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), John Buyan
Again, another example of child instruction. Saving children from being immoral
sinners. An example of Puritan writing.
The ICR is represented as an immoral child.
The Enlightenment (Scientific outlook began to overtake religion)
John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
o Locke creates a gap in the market as he complains that there are not
many appropriate books for children that both entertain and teach
The child is tabula rasa (Latin for „blank slate‟): child is not good or evil, just
o There is now no longer an emphasis on „saving‟ the children
o This put an emphasis on education, so th