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CHILDHOOD IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE CHILDHOOD IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

2 The Ideal Children in children’s literature are constructed in two ways: As characters 2 The Ideal Children in children’s literature are constructed in two ways: As characters As implied readers Concepts of what children are or should be are constructed not by peers, but by adults. The fictional child, both as character and reader are informed by changeable assumptions about the nature and value of children and childhood. Jan van Eyck Madonna with the Child Reading circa 1435

3 What different ideas about children and childhood do these photos bring to your 3 What different ideas about children and childhood do these photos bring to your mind?

4 An audience defined genre Children’s literature is defined by its readers, not its 4 An audience defined genre Children’s literature is defined by its readers, not its writers. Adults are in complete control of its production: writers, editors, publishers, reviewers, purchasers. It’s always, at some level, concerned with instruction. The relationship between author and reader should be one of respect, not condescension. What does “true” children’s literature sound like? “Row, row your boat, gently down the stream Throw your teacher overboard and listen to her scream. ”

Our views of childhood change, mesh, and intermingle. SIX WESTERN CONCEPTIONS OF CHILDHOOD Our views of childhood change, mesh, and intermingle. SIX WESTERN CONCEPTIONS OF CHILDHOOD

6 A Confused Mix I will move chronologically. New concepts do not replace the 6 A Confused Mix I will move chronologically. New concepts do not replace the old but add to them. Each new idea builds upon enriches, and confuses our ideas about childhood

7 Concepts of childhood 1. Sinful – The Puritans (1550 s -1700 s) 2. 7 Concepts of childhood 1. Sinful – The Puritans (1550 s -1700 s) 2. Rational – John Locke (late 17 th century) 3. Natural – Jean-Jacques Rousseau (early 18 th century) 4. Consumer – John Newberry (early 18 th century) 5. Pure – William Blake (early 19 th century) 6. Intelligent – Lewis Carroll (mid 19 th century)

8 1. The Sinful Child The Puritans (1500’s through 1600’s) Children are born sinful. 8 1. The Sinful Child The Puritans (1500’s through 1600’s) Children are born sinful. That sin needs to be purged Children learn through fear. Children should learn to read to study the Bible. Stories of martyrs detailing horrible deaths were thought especially appropriate for children. Strict learning environment.

9 Recommended Reading The protagonists in these books provide models to aspire to. They 9 Recommended Reading The protagonists in these books provide models to aspire to. They died slow, gruesome deaths, but were spiritually strong Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563) A Token for Children: Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children (1672),

10 The New England Primer (1683 -1830) Sin begins the alphabet Importance on books 10 The New England Primer (1683 -1830) Sin begins the alphabet Importance on books and the Bible Harsh laws of nature Punishment for those who do wrong Natural beauty Corporal punishment for laziness

11 Idealistically Virtuous Children Today, books like William Bennett’s The Children’s Book of Virtues 11 Idealistically Virtuous Children Today, books like William Bennett’s The Children’s Book of Virtues (1998) are extremely popular, especially with religious families. Children, like those on the cover, are idealistically virtuous.

12 2. The Rational Child John Locke (1632 -1704) Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 1693 12 2. The Rational Child John Locke (1632 -1704) Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 1693 The mind of a child is a blank slate. “Tabula Rasa. ” People are born without innate ideas. People are NOT born sinful (Augustine & The Puritans). People are NOT born with a certain logic (Cartesian).

13 Training children Children need to learn how to become rational people in order 13 Training children Children need to learn how to become rational people in order to be good adults in a well-ordered community. Children need to learn to resist their natural impulses in favor or reason. Curb natural desire. Locke recommended instruction with delight. Locke recommended moral fables because of their simple cause-effect relationship. Reynard the Fox and Aesop’s Fables

14 Moral tales are still common Murcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish follows Locke’s idea 14 Moral tales are still common Murcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish follows Locke’s idea by presenting a lesson about sharing through a beautifully illustrated book about fish.

15 3. The Natural Child Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 -1778) French Philosopher & Educational Thinker 15 3. The Natural Child Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 -1778) French Philosopher & Educational Thinker Emile: or, On Education 1762 Directly challenged Locke’s ideas. It’s most important to developing the pupil’s character and moral sense. Society corrupts. Children learn best by figuring things out for themselves – naturally.

16 Robinson Crusoe (1726) Natural Man. “The Noble Savage. ” Primitive people are more 16 Robinson Crusoe (1726) Natural Man. “The Noble Savage. ” Primitive people are more pure. Children are more pure. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is the best book for children. It provides the best model.

17 A Modern Robinson In Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Max works 17 A Modern Robinson In Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Max works out his feelings of anger on his own by traveling to an island of wild things and subduing them.

18 4. The Child Consumer John Newbery (1713 -1767) Sometimes thought of as the 18 4. The Child Consumer John Newbery (1713 -1767) Sometimes thought of as the first publisher of children's books. He recognized children as a valuable market. He knew middle class parents want to raise their children well.

19 A Little Pretty Pocket-book. (1744) John Newberry’s first big publishing success for children. 19 A Little Pretty Pocket-book. (1744) John Newberry’s first big publishing success for children. These were packaged with a ball for boys and a pincushion for girls.

20 Children have influence Children’s voices carry weight in society. Pester Power Newbery flattered 20 Children have influence Children’s voices carry weight in society. Pester Power Newbery flattered children by appealing directly to them. Children in stories start to determine their own fate.

21 A Child-centered Economy In Dav Pilkey’s The Adventures of Captain Underpants (1997), children 21 A Child-centered Economy In Dav Pilkey’s The Adventures of Captain Underpants (1997), children produce goods, buy, and sell them independent of (and in opposition to) adult control.

22 5. The Pure & Innocent Child William Blake (1757 -1827) Songs of innocence 22 5. The Pure & Innocent Child William Blake (1757 -1827) Songs of innocence (1789) Child is symbolic of the best of humanity. Children come from heaven. The child in you needs to be cherished. Children’s purity and innocence gives them a kind of wisdom. Knowledge of the cruel world forever corrupts this innocence. It is impossible to reclaim. Also William Wordsworth.

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24 The boy who never grew up J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan 1911 He 24 The boy who never grew up J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan 1911 He is innocent and heartless. To stay innocent, he has no memory and he is entirely selfcentered. But he is also represents an object of desire. Adults attracted to his perpetual childhood more than children.

25 Children’s fiction impossible? Rose insists that books written for children serve adult interests 25 Children’s fiction impossible? Rose insists that books written for children serve adult interests by helping make sure that child readers conceive of themselves in ways that fulfill society’s expectations, and not according to what is necessarily true about childhood

26 6. The Intelligent Child Lewis Carroll (1832 -1898) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 1865 26 6. The Intelligent Child Lewis Carroll (1832 -1898) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 1865 Children recognizes and laugh at adult attempts to socialize her The adult world is strange and curious place, but children can figure things out for themselves. Children react against societal pressures to conform. Adults aren’t always right.

27 Parody of moralistic poem Sir Isaac Watts Lewis Carroll Against Idleness and Mischief 27 Parody of moralistic poem Sir Isaac Watts Lewis Carroll Against Idleness and Mischief (industrious) How Doth the Little Crocodile (lazy) • How doth the little busy bee • Improve each shining hour, • And gather honey all the day • From every opening flower! • How doth the little crocodile • Improve his shining tail, • And pour the waters of the Nile • On every golden scale!

28 Two more wise kids Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain The good-bad boy He lies, 28 Two more wise kids Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain The good-bad boy He lies, cheats, and disobeys, and is universally loved, while at the end, he gets both the gold and the girl. The Wizard of Oz, L Frank Baum Uncovers the adult fraud The great and mighty Oz is exposed as an adult fraud by a young girl and her little dog Toto.

29 Children subversively powerful Peter disobeys mother. This visual pun from Peter Rabbit makes 29 Children subversively powerful Peter disobeys mother. This visual pun from Peter Rabbit makes fun of the adult human. Who is on four legs and who is on two?

30 An intelligent child In Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest, Ramona hears her teacher 30 An intelligent child In Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest, Ramona hears her teacher read the story on the first day of kindergarten. She asks, “How did Mike Mulligan go to the bathroom when he was digging the basement of the town hall? ”

31 Review Sinful child: Puritans 1. Moralistic literature with predeterimined truth. Reading is good 31 Review Sinful child: Puritans 1. Moralistic literature with predeterimined truth. Reading is good for all children Rational child: Locke 2. Teach with delight Create reasonable, ethical adults Natural Child: Rouseau 3. Children have more agency since they learn on their own. Society corrupts, also confuses.

32 Review, continued Child Consumer: Newbery 4. Children can enjoy and want (buy) books. 32 Review, continued Child Consumer: Newbery 4. Children can enjoy and want (buy) books. Children have economic and social power. Pure Child: Blake 5. Children are models of purity and goodness Childhood serves adult objectives. Intelligent Child: Carroll 6. Opens door to vast array of children’s stories. Society corrupts, also confuses.

33 Conclusion Society’s conception of childhood continues to change and adapt, and its these 33 Conclusion Society’s conception of childhood continues to change and adapt, and its these ideas as confused as they sometimes may be, that form the basis for constructing child characters and readers in children’s literature.

34 The (First) Golden Age of Children’s Literature From Alice and to Pooh (1924 34 The (First) Golden Age of Children’s Literature From Alice and to Pooh (1924 -1928) Idealized the child as fanciful and free Children can best learn how to be good through an appeal to the imagination rather than through asserting rules of behavior Liberation from didacticism, these texts broke the rules for children’s writing by blurring traditional rules of right and wrong

35 Why the golden age Books cheaper, less precious Smaller families Universal education for 35 Why the golden age Books cheaper, less precious Smaller families Universal education for both genders Good authors Advances in printing technology a pleasurable alternatives to the "dull reality"

36 Nonsense! Foolishness! Power of nonsense. Some books give readers credit for being able 36 Nonsense! Foolishness! Power of nonsense. Some books give readers credit for being able to discern what is appropriate and inappropriate. Understanding nonsense as nonsense is a fundamental critical skill. We can laugh at foolishness without imitating it. The best books examine the boundaries.

37 Escaping danger Peter Rabbit (1902) By Beatrix Potter Common situations for children in 37 Escaping danger Peter Rabbit (1902) By Beatrix Potter Common situations for children in literature Fighting for justice Charlotte’s Web (1952) By E. B. White Trying to fit in Ramona the Pest (1968) By Beverly Cleary