Children's Literature

Instructor: Chi-Fen Emily Chen, Ph.D. 陳其芬

Department of English, National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology, Taiwan


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Introduction to Children's Literature

Before Starting Definition Values Child Development Trends

Definition of Children's Literature

(*This part is based on Lynch-Brown, C. & Tomlinson, C. (2005). Essentials of Children’s Literature, 5th edition. Chapter 1. Learning about children and their literature.)

Definition:

“Children’s literature is good quality trade books for children from birth to adolescence, covering topics of relevance and interests to children of those ages, through prose and poetry, fiction and nonfiction.” (p. 3)

*Note: A trade book, by design and content, is primarily for the purpose of entertainment and information. Trade books are often referred to as library books and story books. They are different from textbooks, which are for the purpose of instruction.

A) Content

  • Topic: 1) experiences of childhood set in the past, present, or future (e.g., enjoying birthday parties, anticipating adulthood, getting a new pet, enduring siblings, and dealing with family situations); 2) things that are of interest to children (e.g., dinosaurs, Egyptian mummies, world records)

  • Manner: 1)  stories are told in a forthright, humorous, or suspenseful manner (stories that are told in nostalgic or overly sentimental terms are inappropriate); 2) stories should emphasize the hope for a better future rather than the hopelessness and utter despair of the moment.

B) Quality

“The best children’s books offer readers enjoyment as well as memorable characters and situations and valuable insights into the human condition.” (p. 4)

Quality of writing:

  • originality and importance of ideas

  • imaginative use of language

  • beauty of literary and artistic style

*Note: Children usually enjoy reading fast-moving, adventure-filled, and easily predictable stories. These works have won no literary prizes, but they encourage children to read independently and read more.

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