children’s literature

Children’s literature

1. Introduction

Definitions, themes, changes, attitudes

Acts of definition

Common themes and blurred genres

Distinctive changes

Academic attitudes

2. Internationalism, the universal child and the world of children’s literature

Universal childhood: a Romantic model

Universal children’s literature: semiotic models

International understanding through children’s books

The ideology of internationalism

How international is international children’s literature?

’World literature’ - international classics

The international market

PART I. Theory and critical approaches

3. Theorising and theories

The conditions of possibility of children’s literature

Competing critical histories and the status of the child

The doubleness of discourse: constructed/constructive

Origins and the genealogy of children’s literature


Conditions of possibility


4. Criticism and the critical mainstream

5. Critical tradition and ideological positioning



Moral purpose and didacticism

Representation: gender, minority groups and bias: the debate from the 1970s until the present day

The development of criticism of children’s fiction: the Leavisite paradigm

The ideological debate in literary studies

The construction of the reader

Implied readers and real readers

Ideology and children’s fiction

6. History and culture

7. Linguistics and stylistics

8. Reader-response criticism

A shift of critical perspective

Young readers and their books

9. Psychoanalytical criticism

Freudian criticism

Jungian criticism

Ego psychology and object relations theories

Jacques Lacan: the return to Freud through language

Psychoanalytic theory and the feminist critique


10. Feminism revisited




11. Picture books and illustration

12. Narrative theory and children’s literature

Plot-oriented and character-oriented narratives


Characterisation as a narrative issue

Narrative perspective


13. Intertextuality and the child reader

14. Comparative children’s literature

Development of comparative children’s literature

Areas of comparative children’s literature studies

Contact and transfer studies: Alice in Germany

15. Bibliography

PART II. Forms and genres

16. Ancient and medieval children’s texts




The Greeks



The medieval period

17. Texts in English used by children, 1550-1800

Origins: from Caxton to Puritanism

Publishing for children: the early eighteenth century

John Newbery: 1744-67

Educational theorists and children’s books

Fun and frivolity

18. Myth and legend

19. Fairy tales and folk tales

Tal es about fairies, and fairy tales





Italy, Spain, Portugal


Folk tales

20. Playground rhymes and the oral tradition

21. Children’s rhymes and folklore

Contemporary and comparative approaches

Children’s folklore today

The classification of children’s folklore

Recent trends in the study of children’s folklore

The contribution of technology

The people in the playground

Rude rhymes and folklore

The comparative study of children’s rhymes and folklore

Do children’s rhymes reveal universal metrical patterns?

Future directions in the study of children’s folklore

22. Catechistical, devotional and biblical writing

Catechisms and Bibles before 1900

Devotional literature before 1900

23. Contemporary religious writing

Theist religiosity in children’s literature

Hidden religiosity


24. The development of illustrated texts and picture books

25. The picture book

Modern and postmodern

Defining picture books

1900-39: the emergence of the picture book

1940-50: war and the immediate post-war period

1960-79: a period of change - the modern picture book emerges

The origins of the postmodern picture book

The characteristics of contemporary postmodern picture books

26. Shaping boyhood

British Empire builders and adventurers

Origins of the adventure story

The genre

New developments - the twentieth century

27. Childhood, didacticism and the gendering of British children’s literature

28. Popular literature

Comics, dime novels, pulps and Penny Dreadfuls

British children’s comics: 150 years of fun and thrills

American comics and comic books

Dime novels, pulps and Penny Dreadfuls

29. Contemporary comics

30. Poetry

‘Country rhimes’ and ‘fingle-fangles’: what is poetry for children?

The history of children’s poetry

Out of the garden into the street: contemporary poetry

Poetry and illustration

Poetry for children internationally


31. Animal stories

The uses of animals in fiction for adults and children

Distance and ‘identification’



Simon Flynn

The eighteenth century

The nineteenth century

The twentieth century



Natural history

Clothed and unclothed


32. High fantasy

33. Domestic fantasy

Real gardens with imaginary toads

34. The family story

35. School stories

36. Pony books

37. Historical fiction

38. War

39. Horror

The horrors of the market

How to analyse horror

The final horror

40. Science fiction

41. Series fiction

Towards a taxonomy

Resistance to taxonomies

Critical approaches


42. Teenage fiction

Realism, romances, contemporary problem novels

43. Crossover literature

44. Writers for adults, writers for children

45. Metafictions and experimental work

Metafiction and readers

Defining metafiction

Postmodernism, metafiction and experimental picture books

Metafictive and experimental narrative techniques


46. Drama

47. Story-telling

Co-existing traditions

The variety of story

The decline of oral tradition

The renewal of story-telling

The art of story-telling

Preparing to tell

48. Children’s information texts


Kinds and purposes

Pedagogical aspects

Publishers’ perspectives

The critical context