History of Children's Literature

Timeline created by cody.yu
In History
  • -400 BCE


    Folklore: traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community passed through the generations by word of mouth (ex. Johnny Appleseed). Creating stories is an essential part of being human. The oldest of stories - nursery rhymes, folktales, myths, epics, legends, fables, songs, and ballads - have been passed down by storytellers for years, to enlighten and entertain generations of listeners, young and old. The old tales changed the way culture itself changes and the way traditions change.
  • Contemporary Realistic Fiction

    Contemporary Realistic Fiction
    These stories portray situations that could happen in real-life (ex. Wonder). Reading what was contemporary realistic fiction in the past reveals that books for children at that time were didactic. As children’s book publishing developed in the late eighteenth century, the earlier focus on religious education gave way to fanciful stories for entertainment.
  • Poetry and Verse

    Poetry and Verse
    Poetry is displayed through rhyming; verses tell a story in a poetic form. (ex. Green Eggs and Ham). Poetry for children began in the 19th century. Today, poetry is in many formats - in picturebooks containing a single poem and in longer collections containing poems by individual or collective poets. If the collection focuses on one topic, it is a specialized anthology. Collective anthologies contain works by many poets on several subjects.
  • Historical Fiction

    Historical Fiction
    Historical Fiction stories portray a time period and borrow true characteristics of a time period (ex. The Underground Railroad). As the United States developed as a country, writers told the story of that development in historical fiction for young readers. Books such as Carol Ryrie Brink’s Caddie Woodlawn, winner of the 1936 Newbery Medal, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 1938 Newbery Honor-winning On The Banks of Plum Creek were popular with children and librarians alike.
  • Nonfiction

    Nonfiction stories are informational and helps readers learn about realistic things, no fiction is involved (i.e. Maus). In early 19th century, there were series such as the Boy’s and Girl’s Library that were a combination of fact and fiction; by mid-century biographical series such as the Makers of History books were read by both children and adults seeking to fill in the gaps in their own education.
  • Fantasy

    Fantasies are stories that have people, creatures, and events that are not realistic (i.e. Conquest of the Night). Children had little time to be children in the mid-19th century. Social and economic conditions dictated that many young people work, often in horrendous conditions. The society that tolerated grim conditions for children developed literature that provided a fantasy escape from the harsh realities of the world while still giving a justification for the work ethic.
  • Science Fiction

    Science Fiction
    Science Fiction stories contain scientific concepts. (Ex. 1984). The term was introduced by Hugo Gernsback in the late 1920s to describe a “pulp magazine,” what we might think of as “escapist literature,” or “trash.” Although writers and critics argued about the term, and in fact still do, the genre grew in popularity and prestige as gifted writers produced what is now commonly called science fiction for a range of audiences.
  • Biography/Memoir

    Biographies are stories of a person's life, written by someone else or the person him- or herself (ex. Reaching for the Moon). Biographers in the 19th and early 20th centuries wrote only about the good qualities of their subjects. During this period of intense nationalism, these writers deified America’s heroes in a conscious effort to provide children with a set of role models, even if the depictions of these role models were false. Early biographies often did not include source material.