The Growth and Development of Children’s Literature Over the Ages
Children’s Literature is often defined as writings meant to be read by children. This includes literary genres like poetry, science, biography and historical fiction children’s literature. A majority of the children’s literature is based on the genres like fables, folktales, myths and legends. Elements taken from ancient literature have often been adapted to children’s classics. The stories written by the legendary Greek poet Homer is an instance.
Some of the best classic children’s books are published in illustrated format to appeal to the young readers. Curious as it may sound, some of the children’s books are much sought after by the adults for their multiple layers of meaning and allegorical interpretations.
Before Renaissance the classical books for children was written from the tales of the Bible and other Latin and Green classics. The innovation of printing played a significant role behind the growth of children’s literature. Elements from European folklore and Asian cultures were incorporated by the anthropologists, philologists and archaeologists post the 18th century. The legends of King Arthur and the heroic deeds of Robin Hood provided the materials for the ancient form of oral children’s literature in England.
However, some writers hailing from the countries like Denmark and Germany also played a pivotal role in establishing Classical literature for children as a genre. Denmark’s Hans Christian Andersen won the hearts of millions with his immortal creations like The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen.
These tales were translated into several languages worldwide. A discussion on best children’s classic books can not be complete without a mention of Lewis Carroll and his creation, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It became popular with adults as well as kids.
After the First World War, the quality and volume of children’s literature increased noticeably. Noted British novelist C S Lewis the Chronicles of Narnia became a runaway success with the readers. This seven volume series paved the way for the culture and development of fantasy literature. They are adventure stories on the surface with inherent allegorical connotations. The seamless blending of traditional Christian themes and elements of Roman and Greek mythology characterizes the series.
Children’s literature in America has marvels like the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Created by L. Frank Baum, this book has inspired stage play and movie adaptations. Its stupendous success led to the development of over a dozen sequels and countless reprints. This book deserves a place in all time classic literature book lists.
The importance of classical Children’s Literature is evident even in the recent times. The classic literature for children is enjoyable to read. They also contain moral lessons and values in forms of tales and sagas. Children’s Literature thus helps the kids in learning the time tested values and morality.