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Childhood Studies Children's Literature
by
Peter Hunt

Introduction

The study of children’s literature as an academic discipline has developed since the 1980s from its roots in education and librarianship to its place in departments of literature and childhood studies. Although its practitioners position themselves at different points on the spectrum between “book-oriented” and “child-oriented,” the study is held together by the “presence” of some concept of child and childhood in the texts. The distinctions that apply in other literary systems between “literature” and “popular literature” or “literature” and “nonliterature” are not necessarily useful in this field. Nevertheless, criticism tends to fracture between a liberal-humanist and educationalist view that children’s literature should adhere to and inculcate “traditional” literary and cultural values and a more postmodern and theoretical view that texts for children are part of a complex cultural matrix and should be treated nonjudgmentally. In addition, the discipline is multi- and interdisciplinary as well as multimedia: its theory derives from disciplines such as literature, cultural and ideological studies, history, and psychology, and its applications range from literacy to bibliography. Consequently, children’s literature can be defined and limited in many (sometimes conflicting) ways: one major problem for scholars is that the term children’s is sometimes taken to transcend national and language barriers, thus potentially producing a discipline of unmanageable proportions. As a result, this article is eclectic, but it excludes specialist studies to which children’s books are peripheral or merely instrumental, such as folklore or teaching techniques. Children’s literature is also studied comparatively and internationally, with German and Japanese writing being particularly important. This article largely confines itself to English-language texts and translations into English.

Reference Resources

Children’s literature has been well catered for in terms of reference books, partly because the subject is of interest to the general public as well as to academics. General Reference Books thus range from large illustrated encyclopedic guides to collections of academic essays, as well as short introductions aimed primarily at students.

General Reference Books

The major reference books (Carpenter and Prichard 1984, O’Sullivan 2010, Watson 2001, Zipes 2006) are designed for the general reader, with succinct entries and extensive illustration. Hunt 2001, Hunt 2004, Hunt 2006, and Rudd 2010 are aimed at students of children’s literature and provide a basis for the study of the subject (see also Short Introductions and General Introductions and Guides).

  • Carpenter, Humphrey, and Mari Prichard. The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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    Although nontheoretical and increasingly dated, this pioneering work remains an essential text. The more than 2,000 entries cover authors, characters, books, themes, and genres and a selection of national literatures.

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  • Hunt, Peter. Children’s Literature. Blackwell Guides to Literature. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.

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    Introduction defining key issues in children’s literature criticism, followed by thirty-eight essays on major authors, thirty-two on major texts, and thirteen on “Topics” from censorship and colonialism to literacy and genres.

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  • Hunt, Peter, ed. International Companion Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. 2d ed. 2 vols. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.

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    A two-volume collection of one hundred nineteen 6,000-word essays commissioned from world experts, including Iona Opie, Margaret Meek, Jean Perrot, Perry Nodelman, Hans-Heino Ewers, and Anne Pellowski. The text attempts to cover every aspect of the theory and practice of children’s literature; forty-six of the essays are concerned with the literature of specific countries, continents, or regions.

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  • Hunt, Peter, ed. Children’s Literature: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. 4 vols. Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    The ninety-nine reprinted essays in this four-volume set are the most important critical or theoretical statements about or discussions of virtually all aspects of children’s literature. The set includes work by almost every major critic writing in English; there are twenty sections, the largest being “The Theory Debate.”

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  • O’Sullivan, Emer. Historical Dictionary of Children’s Literature. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2010.

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    Wide-ranging alphabetical reference book, with entries on major authors and genres. Chronology, appendix of international prizewinners, and extensive international critical bibliography.

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  • Rudd, David, ed. The Routledge Companion to Children’s Literature. Routledge Companions. London and New York: Routledge, 2010.

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    Rudd’s Companion provides an extremely wide-ranging guide to the technical aspects of criticism and theory of children’s literature. The first half comprises eleven long essays on major themes and issues, such as gender, narratology, race, and young adult fiction; the second, an extensive annotated glossary of names and terms, a full bibliography, and a time line.

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  • Watson, Victor, ed. The Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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    With more than 2,500 entries from more than 200 contributors, this encyclopedic volume covers books and authors that have “made a significant impact on young readers anywhere in the world.” There is particular emphasis on illustrators and on the importance of multimedia texts.

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  • Zipes, Jack, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. 4 vols. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    Four-volume general reference work, with particular emphasis on biographies of authors and illustrators.

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Other Reference Resources

For online resources, a distinction can be made between the academic International Research Society for Children’s Literature and the highly practical International Board on Books for Young People.

Bibliographies

Possibly because of its origins in librarianship, children’s literature studies abound in specialist bibliographies, many of which may be accessed through links in the websites listed in Reference Resources. Hunt’s Check-List of Books on the History, Criticism and Theory of Children’s Literature and Nodelman’s Bibliography of Children’s Literature Criticism deal with texts written about children’s literature, whereas Berger 1995 is concerned with primary texts.

Journals

All the journals listed here are excellent sources of specialist papers; there has been a progression in the older journals—Children’s Literature, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Children’s Literature in Education, The Lion and the Unicorn—toward a more academic and less popularist tone. The Journal of Children’s Literature Studies and International Research in Children’s Literature have built on these academic platforms. The Children’s Books History Society Newsletter is more specialist, a journal essentially for “book people,” and, unlike all the others, little interested in theory or criticism. This is also true of Bookbird, which is directed at “child people” who are interested in international cooperation in the promotion and distribution of children’s books.

Short Introductions

As the subject of children’s literature has become more popular in universities, publishers have included it in introductory series for undergraduate students (Grenby 2008, McCulloch 2011, Pearson and Hunt 2011). McCulloch 2011, Hunt 1994, and Reynolds 2011 are examples that are aimed at a wider public.

  • Grenby, Matthew O. Children’s Literature. Edinburgh Critical Guides. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.

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    Series text arranged by gender: Fable, Poetry, Moral and Instructive Tales, School, Family, Fantasy and Adventure. Includes “Student Resources”—Glossary and Guide to Further Reading.

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  • Hunt, Peter. An Introduction to Children’s Literature. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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    A British-centered outline history of children’s literature to 1990 (and hence a little dated), with chapters discussing essential issues: boundaries, ways of writing history, criticism, censorship, and ideology.

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  • McCulloch, Fiona. Children’s Literature in Context. Texts and Contexts. London: Continuum, 2011.

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    Contains two lengthy chapters on Social and Cultural Context (especially concepts of childhood), and Literary Context (a historical survey). Examines seven classics in detail, and briefly surveys the development of criticism.

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  • Pearson, Lucy, and Peter Hunt. Children’s Literature: Texts, Contexts, Connections. York Notes Companions. New York: Pearson Longman, 2011.

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    “A Cultural Overview” gives a brief history, “Texts, Writers and Contexts” explores six genres with extended commentaries on single books, and “Critical Theories and Debates” looks at Criticism, Gender, Ideology, and Future Developments.

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  • Reynolds, Kimberley. Children’s Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Remarkably comprehensive discussion of history, theory, ethical issues, with a case study of the family story, and a survey of children’s books that considers the future. Comprehensive bibliography.

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General Introductions and Guides

Introductions and guides are of four types: those that address the theory of children’s literature (Nodelman 2008); those that consider ways of ways of applying theory and criticism (Grenby and Immel 2009, Mickenberg and Vallone 2011); those that provide practical help (Grenby and Reynolds 2011); and those that introduce theory in the context of the history and scope of the discipline (Children’s Literature Association, Hunt 1994 cited under Short Introductions, Maybin and Watson 2009, Montgomery and Watson 2009, and Nel and Paul 2011). Many are designed as much for the student as for the general reader, and all of them are accessible and jargon free. Related guides can be found in the section Children’s Literature in Education.

  • Children’s Literature Association.

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    Apart from material on the association, this site includes, under “Scholarly Resources,” a list of more than 200 children’s literature links, compiled by Mike Cadden.

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  • Grenby, M. O., and Andrea Immel, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Children’s Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    The sixteen substantial and innovative essays cover contexts and genres (including original approaches to history by Grenby and John Stephens), audiences (including Lissa Paul on literacy and Lynne Vallone on ideas of difference), and forms (such as family and school stories). Elegant and remarkably comprehensive.

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  • Grenby, M. O., and Kimberley Reynolds, eds. Children’s Literature Studies: A Research Handbook. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

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    In the early 21st century, the only collection to provide practical advice for those new to research in children’s literature. International experts cover theories, project design, resources, and methodologies; includes case studies, questions and exercises, further reading, and a glossary.

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  • Maybin, Janet, and Nicola J. Watson, eds. Children’s Literature: Approaches and Territories. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    A mixture of new and previously published essays initially designed to accompany a UK Open University introductory course. Covers an excellent range of topics, from “Purposes and Histories” to “Story-Telling, Stage and Screen,” to “Contemporary Transformations,” and includes translation and multimedia texts.

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  • Mickenberg, Julia, and Lynne Vallone, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature. Oxford Handbooks. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Each essay uses the responses of a scholar to a children’s literature text to introduce relevant theory, methodology, and criticism and “historical, political and sociological themes.” The twenty-six substantial essays are interdisciplinary and range from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to His Dark Materials.

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  • Montgomery, Heather, and Nicola J. Watson, eds. Children’s Literature: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    Produced to accompany a UK Open University course, this top-quality collection of essays focuses on fourteen books, two from the 19th century (Little Women, Treasure Island), eleven from the 20th century (including Swallows and Amazons), and one from the 21st century (Mortal Engines). Each book is given a new introduction and three reprinted essays.

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  • Nel, Philip, and Lissa Paul, eds. Keywords for Children’s Literature. New York and London: New York University Press, 2011.

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    Loosely based on Raymond Williams’s Keywords, these forty-nine essays by a remarkable range of experts cover topics from Aesthetics to Young Adult, from Theory to Literacy, and Liminality to Body.

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  • Nodelman, Perry. The Hidden Adult: Defining Children’s Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

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    The most comprehensive exploration of the literary theory of children’s literature and the critical debates surrounding it. Examines the common characteristics of the literature at length and argues (perhaps contentiously) that children’s literature is a genre.

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Anthologies

All the anthologies listed here include extensive annotations: Zipes, et al. 2005 was designed specifically for college courses. Demers 1983, Demers 2008, and Hunt 2001 provide extracts essential for readers interested in the history of English-language children’s literature. Mickenberg and Nel 2008 and Zipes 1993 are specialist generic studies and indicative of a growing number of survey texts. Salway 1976, an anthology of early critical texts, demonstrates the consistency of critical attitudes over time.

  • Demers, Patricia, ed. A Garland from the Golden Age: An Anthology of Children’s Literature from 1850 to 1900. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1983.

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    A very wide range of extracts, including not only classics, but also lesser-known authors and popular texts, such as “penny dreadfuls.” Well illustrated, and the texts are grouped generically under such categories as “Allegorical Narrative,” “Nursery Fiction,” and “Periodicals.”

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  • Demers, Patricia, ed. From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children’s Literature to 1850. 3d ed. Don Mills, Canada: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Originally published in 1982 (co-edited by Gordon Moyles). A pioneering collection, well balanced and particularly strong on verse. This new edition takes into account the latest academic research.

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  • Hunt, Peter, ed. Children’s Literature: An Anthology, 1801–1902. Blackwell Anthologies. Oxford and Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001.

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    More than 100 poems, stories, and extracts from novels, including some of the earliest writing for children from Australia and New Zealand and a comprehensive selection from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States; 30,000 words of headnotes.

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  • Mickenberg, Julia L., and Philip Nel, eds. Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

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    Forty-three stories, comic strips, poems, and other texts by 20th-century left-wing American writers, including Carl Sandburg, Dr. Seuss, and Munro Leaf. Themes include gender equality, civil rights, and the environment.

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  • Salway, Lance, ed. A Peculiar Gift: Nineteenth Century Writings on Books for Children. Harmondsworth, UK: Kestrel, 1976.

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    A unique, and now hard-to-find, collection of articles and book extracts, first published in the British journal Signal. Includes some of the earliest critical essays on children’s literature by such writers as Sarah Trimmer, Edward Salmon, George MacDonald, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Joseph Conrad.

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  • Zipes, Jack, ed. The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

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    A controversial collection of thirty-five versions of the folktale, bracketed by 128 pages of commentary and analysis. Although not entirely about children’s literature, the book raises disturbing questions about contemporary attitudes toward childhood and “rape culture,” and demonstrates “shifts in our attitudes toward gender formation, sexuality, and the use of power.”

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  • Zipes, Jack, Lissa Paul, Lynne Vallone, Peter Hunt, and Gillian Avery, eds. The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature: The Traditions in English. New York: Norton, 2005.

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    Eighteen sections, with extensive introductions, from “Alphabets” and “Chapbooks” to “School Stories” and “Domestic Fiction”; nearly 2,500 pages, more than 170 writers and illustrators, and more than forty complete books, including The New England Primer, A Child’s Garden of Verses, Peter Pan, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Includes a 32-page color section on picture books.

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Theory and Criticism

Critical discussion of children’s literature has burgeoned since the 1970s, and as the subject has been increasingly studied in literature departments, theoretical discussions have been added to “traditional” critical approaches and those derived from education and other disciplines. The early 21st century has seen the development of interdisciplinary criticism, and children’s literature has sometimes been subsumed into childhood studies. Consequently, critical/theoretical texts can be widely different, focusing on everything from “high theory” to literacy, or from bibliography to current journalistic concerns. The intended audiences can have widely different preoccupations and attitudes toward formality and complexity.

Essay Collections

Collections of reprinted essays can provide good general introductions to the discipline (Bator 1983; Egoff, et al. 1996; Hunt 1990; Hunt 1992), as does Hunt’s selection of essays from a major encyclopedia (Hunt 2005). Avery and Briggs 1989 is an unusual demonstration of the work of “outsiders” discussing the discipline.

  • Avery, Gillian, and Julia Briggs, eds. Children and Their Books: A Celebration of the Work of Iona and Peter Opie. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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    More than half the contributors to this urbane collection are not primarily children’s book scholars, and the focus is on established classics and non- (if not anti-) theoretical discourse. Apart from essays on William Godwin, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Hughes, Edith Nesbit, Beatrix Potter, William Mayne, and others, there are less well-explored topics, such as early modern childhood and children’s history books.

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  • Bator, Robert, ed. Signposts to Criticism of Children’s Literature. Chicago: American Library Association, 1983.

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    A slightly nostalgic collection of fifty early attempts (largely from the 1960s and 1970s) at serious critical discussion of children’s literature (if not theorizing), some arguing for the establishment of an academic discipline and all aiming at critical rigor.

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  • Egoff, Sheila, Gordon Stubbs, Ralph Ashley, and Wendy Sutton, eds. Only Connect: Readings on Children’s Literature. 3d ed. Toronto and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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    A fine and eclectic collection of previously published essays and book extracts, mixing work from critics, such as Peter Hunt and Julia Briggs, with that of authors, such as P. L. Travers and Patricia Wrightson. The second edition (Egoff, Stubbs, and Ashley, eds., 1980) is a completely different book and equally rewarding.

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  • Hunt, Peter, ed. Children’s Literature: The Development of Criticism. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.

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    One of the first collections of critical essays, this volume brings together a sample of “pretheory” essays on children’s literature by Elizabeth Rigby, G. K. Chesterton, Arthur Ransome, and others. These are followed by some of the most important critical/theoretical essays of the 1970s and 1980s, including John Rowe Townsend’s “Standards of Criticism for Children’s Literature,” Hugh Crago’s “The Roots of Response,” and Lissa Paul’s seminal essay on feminist theory, “Enigma Variations: What Feminist Theory Knows about Children’s Literature.”

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  • Hunt, Peter, ed. Literature for Children: Contemporary Criticism. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

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    A companion volume to The Development of Criticism (Hunt 1990). Includes key essays from c. 1990, such as Geoff Moss’s “Metafiction, Illustration, and the Poetics of Children’s Literature,” together with three essays written specifically for the text, by C. W. Sullivan III (science fiction), Nicholas Tucker (psychology), and Tony Watkins (cultural studies). Kindle edition, 2007.

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  • Hunt, Peter, ed. Understanding Children’s Literature. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    Fourteen definitive essays that together provide a solid basis for the study and application of children’s literature. They include several famous essays, such as David Rudd’s comprehensive review of theory, Lissa Paul on postfeminism, Matthew Grenby on bibliography, and Perry Nodelman’s landmark analysis of John Burningham’s Mr. Gumpy’s Outing.

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Essay Collections from Journals and Conferences

The three major British children’s book journals have each produced summative volumes (Chambers 1980, Fox 1995, and Powling 1994) demonstrating the wide range of audiences for critical work on the subject. Increasingly, conference proceedings are being developed into books, without which much valuable material might be lost (Beckett 1997, Joosen and Vloeberghs 2006, Plastow and Hillel 2010).

  • Beckett, Sandra L., ed. Reflections of Change: Children’s Literature since 1945. Papers presented at the Twelfth Biennial Congress of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature, Stockholm, 1995. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997.

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    International collection, with essays from Germany, Taiwan, Russia, and elsewhere; covers developments in theory, postmodern trends, and shifting boundaries between children’s and adult literature.

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  • Chambers, Nancy, ed. The Signal Approach to Children’s Books: A Collection. Harmondsworth, UK: Kestrel, 1980.

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    Signal was for many years the outstanding British children’s literature journal, and this collection presents its liberal-humanist credentials. It includes John Rowe Townsend’s seminal “Standards of Criticism” and a fifty-five-page interview between Aidan Chambers and Alan Garner.

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  • Fox, Geoff, ed. Celebrating Children’s Literature in Education. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1995.

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    Despite its title, Children’s Literature in Education deals with a wide range of issues, including aspects of poetry, picture books, myth as well as children’s readings. Contributors include Ted Hughes, Perry Nodelman, Philippa Pearce, and Aidan Chambers.

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  • Joosen, Vanessa, and Katrien Vloeberghs. Changing Concepts of Childhood and Children’s Literature. Papers presented at the Child and the Book Conference held at the University of Antwerp, 2005. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2006.

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    This collection covers ideology in contemporary children’s books, (post)structuralist approaches, and postwar books in Britain and Germany. Countries covered also include Poland, Sweden, Greece, and the Netherlands.

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  • Plastow, Jenny, and Margot Hillel, eds. The Sands of Time: Children’s Literature; Culture, Politics and Identity. Papers presented at the Children’s Literature Conference held at the University of Hertfordshire, 2008. Hatfield, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2010.

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    Papers include intercultural theater, social constructions of disability, gender and modernism, Robin Hood narratives, and children’s literature and war.

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  • Powling, Chris, ed. The Best of Books for Keeps. London: Bodley Head, 1994.

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    Although based on a professional, rather than an academic journal, this book discusses fundamental issues such as the classic (for example, essays by Victor Watson and Margaret Meek), Picture Books, Poetry, and Information Books.

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“Traditional” Criticism

Possibly because so much of the discussion of children’s literature previously existed outside the academic context, the liberal-humanist, “commonsense” attitude to literature, which assumes both its cultural and educational worth, as well as a shared scale of values, has survived more robustly in children’s literature studies than elsewhere in the humanities. Such attitudes are implicit in Chambers 1985, Chambers 2001, and Goldthwaite 1966, and explicit in Inglis 1981 and Sale 1978. Rustin and Rustin 2001, a psychological exploration, shares these core values and attitudes.

  • Chambers, Aidan. Booktalk: Occasional Writing on Literature and Children. London: Bodley Head, 1985.

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    Chambers is the author of award-winning experimental fiction, and these essays and talks on theory, education, and literacy are firmly in a liberal-humanist tradition. Includes the seminal essays “The Reader in the Book” and “Tell Me: Are Children Critics?”, later expanded into a book.

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  • Chambers, Aidan. Reading Talk. Stroud, UK: Thimble, 2001.

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    An eclectic companion volume to Booktalk (Chambers 1985); topics include The Diary of Anne Frank, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Talbot Baines Reed and the school story, books in translation, and Penguin Books.

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  • Goldthwaite, John. The Natural History of Make-Believe: A Guide to the Principal Works of Britain, Europe, and America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.

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    Highly opinionated and controversial survey. It contains a ninety-six-page essay on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and its author’s relationship with the ideas of Charles Kingsley; definitive essays on Uncle Remus and Beatrix Potter, and among much else, an excoriating attack on C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books.

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  • Inglis, Fred. The Promise of Happiness: Value and Meaning in Children’s Fiction. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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    Inglis establishes his nontheoretical, liberal-humanist approach by starting this readable and opinionated survey with a paraphrase of F. R. Leavis: “The great children’s novelists are . . . Carroll . . . Kipling . . . Burnett . . . Ransome . . . Mayne, and . . . Pearce—to stop for the moment at that comparatively safe point on an uncertain list” (p. 3). Passionate about the centrality of fiction for civilized values.

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  • Rustin, Margaret, and Michael Rustin. Narratives of Love and Loss: Studies in Modern Children’s Fiction. Rev. ed. London and New York: Karnac, 2001.

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    Originally published in 1987. Written by a child psychotherapist and a sociologist, this was a pioneering application of psychological criticism. Texts include Tom’s Midnight Garden, the Narnia series, Five Children and It, and Carrie’s War.

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  • Sale, Roger. Fairy Tales and After: From Snow White to E. B. White. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.

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    One of the earliest extended attempts to justify the serious study of children’s literature. Includes a discussion of adults reading children’s books and elegant chapters on classic authors, including Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame, Rudyard Kipling, and L. Frank Baum.

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Literary Theory

Since the 1980s, literary theory has had a considerable impact on children’s literature criticism, notably through children’s literature Journals. Some of the initial excursions into theory challenged the status quo of “Traditional” Criticism, notably Rose 1994 and Lesnik-Oberstein 1994. Attempts to rethink or define children’s literature theory include Ewers 2009 and Hollindale 1997. Coats 2004 and Nikolajeva 1996 are examples of the mature application of theory. McGillis 1996 tries to mediate between the traditionalists and the theorists. The whole enterprise has been summed up by Nodelman 2008.

  • Coats, Karen. Looking Glasses and Neverlands: Lacan, Desire, and Subjectivity in Children’s Literature. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004.

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    A distinguished example of the application of “high theory” to children’s literature. Applies Lacanian psychoanalysis through close textual analysis of the stories of Mary Poppins, Alice, Wendy (of Peter Pan), and Pippi Longstocking and offers a new way of interpreting the effects of children’s literature.

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  • Ewers, Hans-Heino. Fundamental Concepts of Children’s Literature Research: Literary and Sociological Approaches. Translated by William J. McCann. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Originally published in German. An ambitious and detailed attempt to retheorize (or theorize) children’s literature and to provide new terminologies and taxonomies.

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  • Hollindale, Peter. Signs of Childness in Children’s Books. Stroud, UK: Thimble, 1997.

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    An important contribution to children’s literature theory. Explores the ways in which writers inscribe, and readers recognize, the essence of the child or childhood—“childness”—in children’s literature and the implications for criticism.

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  • Lesnik-Oberstein, Karín. Children’s Literature: Criticism and the Fictional Child. Oxford and New York: Clarendon, 1994.

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    A controversial study that argues that children’s literature criticism is concerned solely with matching books to children—and that this process is invalid because (following Jacqueline Rose) these children (inside and outside fiction) are theoretical constructs in the minds of adults.

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  • McGillis, Roderick. The Nimble Reader: Literary Theory and Children’s Literature. New York: Twayne, 1996.

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    Using analyses of children’s literature texts, this very accessible book introduces the principles and techniques of formalism, myth and archetype criticism, psychoanalytic criticism, structuralism, poststructuralism, and reader response.

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  • Nikolajeva, Maria. Children’s Literature Comes of Age: Toward a New Aesthetic. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 1996.

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    The first of a distinguished series of books theorizing various aspects of children’s literature. Included here are preliminary essays on topics such as canon, semiotics, chronotopes, intertextuality, and metafiction.

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  • Nodelman, Perry. The Hidden Adult: Defining Children’s Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

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    Nodelman provides an accessible guide to the development of literary theory and its application to children’s literature, incidentally providing a history of children’s book criticism. His book is structured around a study of common characteristics of what he calls the “genre” of children’s literature.

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  • Rose, Jacqueline. The Case of Peter Pan, or, The Impossibility of Children’s Fiction. Rev. ed. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1994.

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    Originally published in 1984. Highly influential examination of Peter Pan, chiefly famous for its argument that children’s literature is an adult construct, not necessarily of or for childhood or benevolent toward it. This work has been revisited in a dedicated issue of Children’s Literature Association Quarterly (35.3 [2010]) edited by David Rudd and Anthony Pavlik.

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Interdisciplinary Criticism

Much children’s literature criticism is hard to categorize, but recently, the cross-disciplinary nature of the subject has produced some radical thinking in books such as Bradford, et al. 2007; Nikolajeva 1991; and Nikolajeva 2009. Zipes 2009 demonstrates the political implications of drawing together literature and sociology, and O’Sullivan 2005 on comparative children’s literature (originally from the German, where such work is more common) demonstrates the complexity of intercultural readings. Dusinberre 1987 links children’s books with major literary movements and was the first of an increasing number of books that integrate children’s literature into mainstream cultural studies.

  • Bradford, Clare, Kerry Mallan, John Stephens, and Robyn McCallum. New World Orders in Contemporary Children’s Literature. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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    A game-changing text, linking children’s literature to global politics and social change. Chapters on ecocriticism, posthumanism, postcolonialism, and reconceptualizing home and family.

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  • Dusinberre, Juliet. Alice to the Lighthouse: Children’s Books and Radical Experiments in Art. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1987.

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    A radical book: by connecting Virginia Woolf’s experiments in narrative with Lewis Carroll’s rejection of didacticism, this book links children’s writers—Grahame, Kipling, Nesbit, and Burnett—with modernism. Also deals with Stevenson, Twain, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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  • Nikolajeva, Maria. From Mythic to Linear: Time in Children’s Literature. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1991.

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    Literature, myth, coming-of-age, and a reconsideration of the divisions between realism and fantasy are brought together with examples from English-language, Scandinavian, Eastern European, and South African children’s literature.

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  • Nikolajeva, Maria. Power, Voice and Subjectivity in Literature for Young Readers. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Empowerment and education of children through literature are studies in the context of genre, gender, crossvocalization, species, contemporary power theories, carnival theory, feminism, postcolonial and queer studies, and narratology.

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  • O’Sullivan, Emer. Comparative Children’s Literature. Translated by Anthea Bell. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    Definitive theoretical introduction, with extensive sections on translation and discussions of national stereotypes, intertextuality, comparative genres, history, and historicism.

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  • Zipes, Jack. Relentless Progress: The Reconfiguration of Children’s Literature, Fairy Tales, and Storytelling. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    A sometimes-polemical investigation of whether children’s literature and fantasy can counteract globalization and the commodification of childhood. Includes discussion of feminist fairytales, picture books, graphic novels, and video games.

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Language and Narrative

The study of language and narrative is bound up with the theory of ideology and cultural history on the one hand and with literacy and acculturization (see Children’s Literature in Education) on the other. Stephens 1992 was the pioneering study of the importance of language, whereas Wall 1991 illustrates how attitudes toward audience can be demonstrated historically through language. Cadden 2010 builds on narrative theory, while Watson 2000 explores an aspect of narrative that is particularly important to children’s literature.

  • Cadden, Mike. Telling Children’s Stories: Narrative Theory and Children’s Literature. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010.

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    The essays in the four sections of this book—genre templates, approaches to the picture book, narrators and implied readers, and narrative time—all relate theory closely to contemporary texts. The introduction is a particularly clear synopsis of the progress of children’s literature as an academic subject.

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  • Stephens, John. Language and Ideology in Children’s Fiction. Harlow, Essex, UK, and New York: Longman, 1992.

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    Stephens has gone on to develop many of the ideas presented here into other books, but this remains influential. It considers the pervasiveness of ideology and the relationships between adult author and child reader. Using detailed stylistic analyses of many texts, the author demonstrates how language functions as an ideological tool.

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  • Wall, Barbara. The Narrator’s Voice: The Dilemma of Children’s Fiction. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1991.

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    Important work that distinguishes three modes of address of narrators to child readers—single, double, and dual—and that illustrates these modes through a detailed history of children’s literature.

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  • Watson, Victor. Reading Series Fiction: From Arthur Ransome to Gene Kemp. London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2000.

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    Argues that the generally maligned series fiction not only plays a great part in forming children’s reading habits, but also has many unique virtues. Includes essays on the Swallows and Amazons, Borrowers, Green Knowe, and The Dark is Rising sequences, and pioneering essays on camping and tramping fiction, and Malcolm Saville.

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Ecocriticism

The new field of ecocriticism is provoking particular interest in children’s literature studies, possibly because of the social and cultural implications of educating children, through their literature, on what is increasingly seen as an urgent global issue. Dobrin and Kidd 2004 is a good example.

  • Dobrin, Sidney I., and Kenneth B. Kidd, eds. Wild Things: Children’s Culture and Ecocriticism. Landscapes of Childhood. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004.

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    Ecocriticism is defined as “the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment” (p. 3). Based on the premise “that children are often denied or discouraged from outward-bound forms of nature experience (even from reading about nature)” (pp. 2–3), this wide-ranging volume discusses innocence and the pastoral, from Arthur Ransome to Disney theme parks, and topics such as “Conservation and Anticolonialism in The Chronicles of Narnia,” music, and motherhood.

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Childhood Studies

Children’s literature and childhood studies have a symbiotic relationship, each being part of the other. This is neatly demonstrated by the transformation of the journal Canadian Children’s Literature/Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse, originally devoted to children’s literature only, into Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. Increasingly, historiological and social approaches are being used. They overlap with gender studies (Clark and Higonnet 1999, Davies 2003), history and historicism (Grenby 2011; Gubar 2009; Hilton, et al. 1997; O’Malley 2003), and sociology (Wilkie-Stibbs 2008). All could also be subsumed under a general heading of cultural studies.

  • Clark, Beverly Lyon, and Margaret R. Higonnet, eds. Girls, Boys, Books, Toys: Gender in Children’s Literature and Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

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    A book on children’s culture and gender symbolism, with powerful essays on the construction of feminist reading positions (John Stephens and Robyn McCallum); liberal bias in feminist social science research on children’s books; and radical views of school stories, quilts, contemporary dolls, and television.

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  • Davies, Bronwyn. Frogs and Snails and Feminist Tales: Preschool Children and Gender. Rev. ed. Language and Social Processes. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2003.

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    Originally published in 1989 (Sydney, Australia, and Boston: Allen and Unwin). Influential application of postructuralist theory to examine how preschool children make sense of gender, using feminist children’s texts.

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  • Grenby, M. O. The Child Reader, 1700–1840. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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    Highly original and meticulously researched, this book provides much valuable material on the sociological and cultural background to the development of children’s literature, including the market, prizes, rewards, and adult attitudes.

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  • Gubar, Marah. Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children’s Literature. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    Genuinely original revisionary approach to a well-trodden area: Gubar questions accepted ideas about the innocence of childhood and examines the “beautiful child” cult, suggesting that there was far more skepticism about this Romantic-era concept than is generally supposed. Authors studied include Robert Lewis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll, and Edith Nesbit.

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  • Hilton, Mary, Morag Styles, and Victor Watson, eds. Opening the Nursery Door: Reading, Writing, and Childhood, 1600–1900. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    Essays centered on the discovery of the 18th-century “home-made library” of Jane Johnson; primarily 18th- and 19th-century topics, with contributions from Jan Mark and Shirley Brice Heath.

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  • Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. 2009–.

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    Formerly Canadian Children’s Literature/Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse (1975–2008). An international journal of research into literature and childhood from the Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures at the University of Winnipeg. Subscribers have access to the entirety of the archives, dating back to 1975; the journal is edited by Perry Nodelman.

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  • O’Malley, Andrew. The Making of the Modern Child: Children’s Literature and Childhood in the Late Eighteenth Century. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    The development of the Victorian concept of childhood through literature and other types of writing, such as medical and educational, and its association with the middle classes.

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  • Wilkie-Stibbs, Christine. The Outside Child in and out of the Book. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    A powerful literary and sociopolitical investigation, this book contrasts fictional and real childhoods to establish how Western society has framed and defined the “outsider” child, using the categories “displaced,” “erased,” “abject,” “unattached,” and “colonized.” Discusses late-20th-century realism in books by Malorie Blackman, Jacqueline Wilson, Meg Rosoff, Mark Haddon, and others.

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Satire

It may seem eccentric to include two famous satires on literary theory simply because they use a children’s book as a base text. However, Crews 1964 and Crews 2001 raise many genuine questions about how children’s books can be read.

  • Crews, Frederick C. The Pooh Perplex. London: Arthur Barker, 1964.

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    A parody of a student “casebook,” with parodies of Freudian (“A. A. Milne’s Honey-Balloon-Pit-Gun-Tail-Bathtubcomplex”), Leavisite (“Another Book to Cross Off Your List” by “Somon Lacerous”) Marxist, Christian, and other schools of criticism.

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  • Crews, Frederick C. Postmodern Pooh. New York: North Point, 2001.

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    Crews turns his attention to radical feminism, Lacanian postcolonialism, new historicism, and other schools of criticism that have turned their attention to children’s literature in recent years.

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History

That in the early 21st century no genuinely satisfactory history of British or American children’s literature in English has yet emerged may be accounted for by academic “short-termism” in research. Rather, monographs have been devoted to specialist periods or the development of a particular theme, such as religion or the family, through history.

International

As the term children’s literature implies a worldwide commonality, rather than a national identity, attempts have been made to place developments in different countries side by side or to integrate them. Beckett 1997 (cited under Essay Collections from Journals and Conferences) is an example of a developing trend toward interlanguage comparison, and O’Sullivan 2005 (cited under Interdisciplinary Criticism) provides a theoretical basis; nevertheless, the majority of English-language histories concentrate on British and North American texts (Meigs, et al. 1969; Townsend 1996), sometimes, controversially, including separate chapters on former colonies (Hunt 1995). Modern specialist historical studies (McGavran 1999, Mackey 1998) and general introductions with a historical framework (Reynolds 2005, Thacker and Webb 2002, Lerer 2008) routinely integrate British and American texts; Beckett and Nikolajeva 2006 is a rare example of genuine internationalism.

  • Beckett, Sandra, and Maria Nikolajeva, eds. Beyond Babar: The European Tradition in Children’s Literature. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Essays by international scholars on eleven major European children’s novels, including Pippi Longstocking, the Moomin saga, The Neverending Story, and Sophie’s World. Includes an essay on translation.

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  • Hunt, Peter, ed. Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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    Now rather dated by its unconscious colonialism and its lack of theorizing, this book nonetheless contains strong sections on early children’s literature and the period between the two world wars. The illustrations are of variable value, but there is much material not to be found elsewhere.

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  • Lerer, Seth. Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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    A controversial, wide-ranging, and sometimes polemical account that covers not merely books written for children, but those adopted by children. It describes itself as “a history of reception.”

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  • Mackey, Margaret. The Case of Peter Rabbit: Changing Conditions of Literature for Children. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 1998.

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    Effectively a history of publishing and the book in the 20th century through the lens of different editions of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. Deals with rewritten and reillustrated versions in many media and considers the importance of publishing conglomerations.

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  • McGavran, James Holt, ed. Literature and the Child: Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999.

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    Examines the Romantic-era concept of the child in 19th- and 20th-century literature and society; includes essays on postmodern poetry as well as Milne and Disney.

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  • Meigs, Cornelia, Anne Thaxter Eaton, Elizabeth Nesbitt, and Ruth Hill Viguers. A Critical History of Children’s Literature: A Survey of Children’s Books in English. Rev. ed. New York: Macmillan, 1969.

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    Originally published in 1953. This text offers a librarian’s approach to criticism—untheorized, only lightly contextualized, but strong on naming and briefly describing a vast number of children’s texts.

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  • Reynolds, Kimberley, ed. Modern Children’s Literature: An Introduction. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

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    Derived from children’s literature courses at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature at the University of Roehampton. Each of the fifteen sections, which include “Theories of Genre and Gender”; “Feminism and History”; “Childhood, Youth Culture and the Uncanny”; “Autobiography and History”; “Chronotopes and Heritage”; and “Postmodernism, New Historicism, and Migration,” comprises a summary of theory, the close analysis of two or three texts, definitions of key terms, and bibliographies.

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  • Thacker, Deborah Cogan, and Jean Webb. Introducing Children’s Literature: From Romanticism to Postmodernism. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Readable and accessible, this book discusses two representative texts from each of five periods—Romantic, 19th century, fin de siècle, modernist, and postmodernist—and sets them in the context of general literary and cultural history.

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  • Townsend, John Rowe. Written for Children: An Outline of English-Language Children’s Literature. 6th ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1996.

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    Originally published in 1965. For many years this text was the standard history; written with the clarity and fluency of a first-rate journalist, it became the template for later histories. Arranged thematically within four time periods.

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Australia

Australian children’s literature is a large and distinctive area that has produced some of the most distinguished criticism and theory. Saxby 1998 provides a historical basis for this work and may be supplemented by Scutter 1999, an example of the burgeoning and groundbreaking Australian critical scene, and by Lees and Macintyre 1993, an encyclopedic reference work.

Ireland

Irish commercial children’s literature is essentially a mid-20th-century phenomenon, and children’s literature courses and organizations in Ireland are now producing high-quality critical and theoretical literature to match. Coghlan and O’Sullivan 2011 is a distinguished example.

  • Coghlan, Valerie, and Keith O’Sullivan, eds. Irish Children’s Literature and Culture: New Perspectives on Contemporary Writing. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2011.

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    Thirteen essays exploring the tensions between the myths of Ireland and contemporary social and political conditions, the ways in which children’s literature is overcoming a resistance to discussion of early-20th-century history and late-20th-century religion, and the place of the Irish writer in the wider world.

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Italy

Children’s literature studies are growing rapidly in Italy. Myers 2012 is an interesting example of internationalism—a book by an Irish writer that pre-empts Italian scholars.

  • Myers, Lindsay. Making the Italians: Poetic and Politics of Italian Children’s Fantasy. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

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    Pioneering exploration of the history and evolution of Italian children’s fantasy (there is no equivalent work in Italian), and the ways in which it relates to the identity formation of Italy.

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New Zealand

Children’s literature studies in New Zealand match the robust literary output of that country: Gilderdale 1982 provides the definitive historical background.

  • Gilderdale, Betty. A Sea Change: 145 Years of New Zealand Junior Fiction. Auckland, New Zealand: Longman Paul, 1982.

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    Exemplary social and cultural history, discussing approximately 700 titles. Supplemented by later books, such as Introducing 21 New Zealand Children’s Authors (Auckland, New Zealand: Hodder and Stoughton, 1994).

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United Kingdom

The pioneering history of British children’s literature was Darton 1999. Drotner 1988 provides a specialist study of children’s magazines, while Butts 2010 provides wide-ranging analyses that are indicative of a developing trend in ahistorical studies.

  • Butts, Dennis. Children’s Literature and Social Change. Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2010.

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    Twelve essays that reflect how children’s literature is influenced by, and influences, society. Authors considered include Barbara Hofland, G. A. Henty, R. L. Stevenson, Amy le Feuvre, W. E. Johns, and Philip Pullman.

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  • Darton, Frederick J. Harvey. Children’s Books in England: Five Centuries of Social Life. 3d ed. Edited by Brian Alderson. London: British Library, 1999.

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    Originally published in 1932. This is the grandfather and godfather of children’s literature histories. Darton was a distinguished bibliographer and bibliophile, and his book reflects his preoccupations and eye for detail. Although sometimes confusingly organized, and barely taking the history into the 20th century, this remains an essential reference.

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  • Drotner, Kirsten. English Children and Their Magazines, 1751–1945. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.

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    Authoritative and extensively researched study, from the world’s first juvenile magazine, The Lilliputian Magazine (1751), to The Rover and The Hotspur of the Second World War, with a sketch of developments into the 1970s.

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18th Century and Earlier

Specialist studies of specific periods are increasing, although they rarely fit neatly into century categories. Alderson and Oyens 2006 come from a bibliographical perspective, Summerfield 1985 is by a historian, and Paul 2011 combines several approaches.

  • Alderson, Brian, and Felix de Marez Oyens. Be Merry and Wise: Origins of Children’s Book Publishing in England, 1650–1850. London: British Library, 2006.

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    Sumptuously produced, authoritative bibliographical study drawn largely from the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York: a history from the Orbis Sensualium Pictus in more than 400 books.

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  • Paul, Lissa. The Children’s Book Business: Lessons from the Long Eighteenth Century. New York and London: Routledge, 2011.

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    A cross-disciplinary study, focusing on the writer Eliza Fenwick, this book draws on biography, book history, cultural studies, and educational theory to chronicle both publishing practices and the work of female authors of the period.

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  • Summerfield, Geoffrey. Fantasy and Reason: Children’s Literature in the Eighteenth Century. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1985.

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    An idiosyncratic and forcefully opinionated history, with a wide range of cultural and philosophical reference. Key figures that are reassessed include John Locke, John Newbery, Isaac Watts, William Blake, and Maria Edgeworth.

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19th Century

This is possibly the fastest growing area of children’s literary history: Bratton 1981 and Dusinberre 1987 were pioneering works, and Parkes 2012 is representative of the “new wave.”

  • Bratton, Jacqueline S. The Impact of Victorian Children’s Fiction. London: Croom Helm, 1981.

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    Standard work, tracing the development of religious publishing and the evangelical tradition to the turn of the 20th century, with extensive sections on boys’ and girls’ stories.

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  • Dusinberre, Juliet. Alice to the Lighthouse: Children’s Books and Radical Experiments in Art. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1987.

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    Links children’s literature with the modernist movement, from Woolfe and Carroll through to Willa Cather and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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  • Parkes, Christopher. Children’s Literature and Capitalism: Fictions of Social Mobility in Britain, 1850–1914. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

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    A highly original, and politically and historically insightful account of how capitalism conscripted childhood, closely argued through key texts such as Great Expectations, Kidnapped, The Railway Children, A Little Princess, and Anne of Green Gables.

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20th Century

This selection of texts demonstrates the richness of approach in this field: Carpenter 1985 takes a psychological approach, Crouch 1972 is the work of a librarian-chronicler, Reynolds 2007 a cultural analysis, and Reynolds and Tucker 1998 is concerned with cultural and commercial history.

  • Carpenter, Humphrey. Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature. London and Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1985.

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    Groundbreaking, influential, opinionated, and readable, this book explores the connections between the lives and psychological makeup of Lewis Carroll, Charles Kingsley, Kenneth Grahame, Edith Nesbit, and others; their books; and their cultural background.

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  • Crouch, Marcus. The Children’s Novel 1945–1970. London: Ernest Benn, 1972.

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    One of the earliest surveys of children’s novels: descriptive rather than analytic, but extremely valuable as a sourcebook.

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  • Reynolds, Kimberley. Radical Children’s Literature: Future Visions and Aesthetic Transformations in Juvenile Fiction. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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    Reynolds challenges the view that children’s literature is primarily conservative and explores the ways in which contemporary books push at literary and social boundaries. Includes chapters on frightening fiction, sexuality, and interactions (positive and negative) between youth culture and literature.

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  • Reynolds, Kimberley, and Nicholas Tucker, eds. Children’s Book Publishing in Britain since 1945. Aldershot, UK: Scolar Press, 1998.

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    The chapters based on interviews with publishers and authors are the most useful, demonstrating how the British children’s publishing industry expanded. Includes an important chapter by Geoff Fox on pop-up books and paper engineering.

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United States

It is perhaps surprising that there is no comprehensive history of American children’s literature. In the early 21st century, Avery 1994 remains the most substantial and can be supplemented by specialist studies such as Griswold 1996 and Trites 2000. Marcus 2008 and Clark 2003 provide cultural and sociological history.

  • Avery, Gillian. Behold the Child: American Children and Their Books, 1621–1922. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

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    In the early 21st century, the best extended history of American children’s literature, with a strong sociocultural background; emphasis on the early years and hardly touching the 20th century. Profusely illustrated in black and white.

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  • Clark, Beverly Lyon. Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children’s Literature in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

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    Considers the value and status of children’s literature and its slow development as a respectable academic discipline in the United States. Through case studies of the changes over time of the reception of texts such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, authors such as Louisa May Alcott, and American and British fantasy in general, Clark detects a shift in American attitudes toward childhood.

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  • Griswold, Jerry. The Classic American Children’s Story: Novels of the Golden Age. New York: Penguin, 1996.

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    Possibly the best, and most entertaining, of American children’s book critics/historians, Griswold discusses the Americanness of the texts Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Tarzan of the Apes, Little Women, and others.

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  • Marcus, Leonard S. Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children’s Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

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    Focusing on publishers, educationalists, librarians, and writers, this is an energetic survey of the forces behind American children’s literature in the 20th century.

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  • Trites, Roberta Seelinger. Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000.

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    Applying the work of theorists such as Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and Roland Barthes, Trites argues forcefully that young adult novels are essentially concerned with power and with adolescent experiences of negotiating power structures. She also examines how greatly young adult literature can empower its readers.

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Themes

Just as children’s literature covers every genre, so, too, no theme or topic is outside its remit. The study of themes within children’s literature studies tends to reflect the preoccupations of adult scholarship and “political correctness.” The study of Disability and Death is closely linked to repression, and hence to Gender Studies, whereas both gender and multiculturalism are concepts fundamental to the global idea of children’s literature.

Disability and Death

The links in children’s literature between disability and death, and gender and punishment, especially in the 19th century, are striking. James 2009 examines these issues from a theoretical point of view, whereas Keith 2001 looks at the practical, personal, and social consequences of cultural and literary attitudes.

  • James, Kathryn. Death, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Adolescent Literature. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Using examples taken largely from Australian children’s literature published since the 1980s, this is a theory-based exploration of power and psychology, concentrating on women and death; the sexualizing of death; and death and fantasy, gothic and horror, and postdisaster fiction.

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  • Keith, Lois. Take Up Thy Bed and Walk: Death, Disability and Cure in Classic Fiction for Girls. London: Women’s Press, 2001.

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    Remains, in the early 21st century, the only extensive (and, not unnaturally, somewhat evangelical) study of the subject. Includes extended studies of the texts What Katy Did, Pollyanna, Seven Little Australians, and others and a chapter on representations of disability in the second half of the 20th century.

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Gender Studies

Children’s literature has an obvious formative role in gendering, to the extent that it has been argued that there is no such thing as children’s literature, only boys’ books and girls’ books, and that one of the essentials of children’s literature is that it teaches gender roles. Critics generally make a distinction between sex (the given, physical characteristics of children) and gender (the socially and culturally acquired or imposed attitudes and behaviors). Historically, there has been an implicit tendency to equate gender studies with feminist studies. Stephens 2002 is a relatively rare example of the treatment of masculinity in children’s literature; Trites 1997 epitomizes the tendency to see gender as a feminist political issue, and a similar view is taken by the distinguished fantasy writer Ursula Le Guin (Le Guin 1993). Mallan 2009 and Bottalla and Santini 2009 attempt a balanced approach, whereas Wilkie-Stibbs 2002 explores the topic from a theoretical point of view.

  • Bottalla, Paola, and Monica Santini, eds. What Are Little Boys and Girls Made Of? Gender Issues in Children’s Literature. Padua, Italy: Unipress, 2009.

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    Aspects of gender: in animal stories, Victorian fairy tales, Oscar Wilde, J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, and slave narratives. Writers include Lisa Sainsbury, Laura Tosi, and Francesca Orestano.

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  • Le Guin, Ursula K. Earthsea Revisioned. Cambridge, MA: Children’s Literature New England, 1993.

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    Seminal pamphlet discussing Le Guin’s decision to break away from the norms of male-dominated fantasy and to produce a genuinely feminine heroic figure in Tehanu, the fourth Earthsea novel. From paper originally presented at the Children’s Literature New England Conference, Worlds Apart, Keble College, Oxford University, 2–8 August 1992.

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  • Mallan, Kerry. Gender Dilemmas in Children’s Fiction. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    Using fiction published between 1990 and 2008, Mallan explores the shifting ground between “traditional gendered subject positions and new gender relationships” and the role of children’s literature. Chapters include “Gendered Bodies and Aesthetic Judgement,” “Gendered Cyber-Bodies,” and “Queer Spaces in a Straight World.”

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  • Stephens, John, ed. Ways of Being Male: Representing Masculinities in Children’s Literature and Film. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Pioneering examination of the relationship between contemporary constructions of the male and texts for children. Includes Perry Nodelman, on fiction; Kerry Mallan, on picture books; Kimberley Reynolds, on “Lads and Ladettes”; and essays on Disney, high school literature, and cross-dressing.

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  • Trites, Roberta Seelinger. Waking Sleeping Beauty: Feminist Voices in Children’s Novels. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997.

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    A forceful, if slightly dated, argument, solidly based in theory, for the importance of feminism and feminist theory in children’s literature, focusing on such writers as Patricia MacLachlan, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Virginia Hamilton.

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  • Wilkie-Stibbs, Christine. The Feminine Subject in Children’s Literature. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Impressive example of the application of “high theory” to children’s texts. Wilkie-Stibbs uses a detailed examination of books by Gillian Cross and Margaret Mahy to explore the concept of l’écriture feminine, drawing on the work of Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigary, Jacques Lacan, and others.

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Gender and History

The historical treatment of gender, predominantly of representations of females (although, see also Empire, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism), has often taken on a sociological and historiographical approach (Cadogan and Craig 1986, Vallone 1995, Foster and Simons 1995) or a historical approach that challenges conventional historical wisdom (Reynolds 1990 and Smith 2011) or that suggests a revisioning of gender positions (Nelson 1991).

  • Cadogan, Mary, and Patricia Craig. You’re a Brick, Angela! The Girls’ Story 1839–1985. Rev. ed. London: Gollancz, 1986.

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    Scholarly and outstandingly entertaining, this definitive account of the genre explores hundreds of half-forgotten books as well as major authors, such as Angela Brazil and Dorita Fairlie Bruce. Also has chapters on Richmal Crompton’s William, Evadne Price’s Jane, girl detectives, and much else.

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  • Foster, Shirley, and Judy Simons. What Katy Read: Feminist Re-Readings of “Classic” Stories for Girls. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1995.

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    A classic examination of classics through a feminist lens, with an acute awareness of cultural history. Texts studied include The Wide, Wide World, The Daisy Chain, Little Women, and What Katy Did.

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  • Nelson, Claudia. Boys Will Be Girls: The Feminine Ethic and British Children’s Fiction, 1857–1917. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991.

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    Explores changing ideas of masculinity, from the early Victorian ideal of the androgynous angel boy (from Tom Brown’s Schooldays) to Peter Pan. Covers many aspects of gendering, with examples from lesser-known boys’ books, especially of boys’ school stories.

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  • Reynolds, Kimberley. Girls Only? Gender and Popular Children’s Fiction in Britain, 1880–1910. New York: Harvester/Wheatsheaf, 1990.

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    Explores the cultural importance of the rapid expansion of reading in this period, especially on gender. Includes sections on nonfiction, periodicals, and girls’ and boys’ books.

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  • Smith, Michelle J. Empire in British Girls’ Literature and Culture: Imperial Girls, 1880–1915. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

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    The new readings of The Girl’s Own Paper, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and E. Nesbit, and the first detailed examination of little-known texts, such as the Girl Guides Handbook, girls’ Robinsonnades, and the work of Bessie Marchant, change the perspective on girls’ reading over this period.

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  • Vallone, Lynne. Disciplines of Virtue: Girls’ Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

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    Scholarly historical study of the theory and sociology of female adolescence, with in-depth analyses of adult and children’s texts, from Pamela to Little Women.

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Multiculturalism and Translation

Despite the isolationism of the English-speaking children’s literature world in terms of the translation of books, the pressures of international publication and the hope placed in children for building a peaceful multicultural future are driving an interest in this area. Lathey 2006 and O’Sullivan 2005 epitomize the academic and theoretical approach, whereas Botelho and Rudman 2009 takes a pragmatic, teaching approach.

  • Botelho, Maria José, and Masha Kabakow Rudman. Critical Multicultural Analysis of Children’s Literature, Mirrors, Windows, and Doors. Language, Culture, and Teaching. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Focusing on teachers, educators, and classroom applications, puts forward a theory and practice of critical multicultural analysis. Chapters on the social construction of race, class, and gender; intertextuality; and deconstructing multiculturalism.

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  • Lathey, Gillian, ed. The Translation of Children’s Literature: A Reader. Topics in Translation. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2006.

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    Essays on the theory and practice of translation from writers, including Riitta Oittinen, Emer O’Sullivan, and Mieke K. T. Desmet, with sections on translating visual texts and cross-cultural influences and challenges. Texts treated range from the Kinder- und Hausmärchen to the Harry Potter books.

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  • O’Sullivan, Emer. Comparative Children’s Literature. Translated by Anthea Bell. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    Presents the theory of translation and intercultural studies, with emphasis on translation between German and English; includes a section on world literature and children’s classics and a definitive bibliography.

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Genres

There are few, if any, taboo areas of children’s literature in terms of content and genre, and almost all genres demonstrate complexities and tensions that cross from one to another. Adventure stories are characteristic of colonial texts; Family stories can be read as demonstrating a long-term cultural urge toward the stable and nuclear—or as demonstrating that this is a myth; Fairy Tales and Folktales can merge with gender-marked genres or with horror; Horror and the Gothic can inhabit the school story; School Stories have elements of fantasy; Fantasy and Fantastic Realism deals with adventure and colonialism. Increasingly, genre studies have been used as a framework for organizing the narration of a sweep of history, as with Butts 1992 and Grenby 2008.

  • Butts, Dennis. Stories and Society: Children’s Literature in Its Social Context. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1992.

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    Pairs of chapters, the first of each pair being a study of a genre—school, family, adventure, fantasy, and the second a study of an exemplar text: The Chocolate War, Little Women, Jan Needle’s books, Winnie-the-Pooh. Writers include Jeffrey Richards, Perry Nodleman, Gillian Avery, Fred Inglis, and C. W. Sullivan III.

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  • Grenby, Matthew O. Children’s Literature. Edinburgh Critical Guides. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.

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    This book’s particular strength is its discussion of earlier texts, fables, and moral and instructive tales; also includes a wide-ranging and compact discussion of poetry, school, family, fantasy, and adventure.

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Adventure

“Adventure” is perhaps too all-encompassing within children’s literature to be regarded as a separate genre. However, aspects of adventure have been theorized by Hourihan 1997 and Jones and Watkins 2000, and the history has been described by Fisher 1986. The account by Ellis and Schofield 1993 of a British fictional hero of adventure stories is characteristic of stories of Empire, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism and Popular Culture and Children’s Literature.

  • Ellis, Peter Berresford, and Jennifer Schofield. Biggles! The Life Story of Capt. W. E. Johns, Creator of Biggles, Worrals, Gimlet and Steeley. Godmanstone, UK: Veloce, 1993.

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    Popular biography, with definitive bibliography, that sheds a great deal of light on publishing for and the reading habits of boys in the United Kingdom between 1920 and 1970.

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  • Fisher, Margery. The Bright Face of Danger: An Exploration of the Adventure Story. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.

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    Classic example of pretheory writing on children’s literature, with incisive opinions and covering a remarkable range.

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  • Hourihan, Margery. Deconstructing the Hero: Literary Theory and Children’s Literature. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    A very wide-ranging analysis of the adventure/hero story, in terms of master narratives, the role of women, gender, and the Other. Examples range from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Ursula K. Le Guin and cross between adult and children’s texts: a very accessible use of theory.

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  • Jones, Dudley, and Tony Watkins, eds. A Necessary Fantasy? The Heroic Figure in Children’s Popular Culture. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 2000.

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    Stylishly edited collection, pointing out the ubiquity of the hero motif from Robin Hood, through flying stories and pony stories, to Nancy Drew, to Action Man, to Dr. Who.

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Animals

Animal stories have been particularly associated with childhood for the past three centuries, although they belong to a much wider cultural tradition. Blount 1974 provides a traditional survey, and Cosslett 2006 bases its approach in literary theory.

  • Blount, Margaret. Animal Land: The Creatures of Children’s Fiction. London: Hutchinson, 1974.

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    Until the early 21st century, this was the most comprehensive survey, from folklore through fantasy—from mythology, to Rupert Bear, to “animal Edens” in the work of C. S. Lewis and Michael Bond. Still extremely valuable.

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  • Cosslett, Tess. Talking Animals in British Children’s Fiction, 1786–1914. The Nineteenth Century. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.

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    Exemplary reassessment of classics such as Black Beauty, Peter Rabbit, and The Wind in the Willows and a comprehensive range of animal texts, through the lens of critical theory, including carnival, feminism, and ecocriticism. Considers social, cultural, historical, and scientific contexts–a wide-ranging and important study.

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Crossover Fiction

In the late 19th century, many texts, notably domestic romances and empire-building adventure stories, were read equally by children and adults. With the rehabilitation of fantasy in the late 20th century, partly through magical realism, texts are again being shared. Beckett 2009 and Falconer 2009 explore the theory and the implications of this movement.

  • Beckett, Sandra L. Crossover Fiction: Global and Historical Perspectives. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    International exploration of books that have been intended for or adopted by two audiences. Chapters include adult-to-child and child-to-adult crossovers and discussions of the implications of the phenomenon for publishers and for the culture as a whole.

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  • Falconer, Rachel. The Crossover Novel: Contemporary Children’s Fiction and Its Adult Readership. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Extremely thorough specialist study of why, between 1997 and 2007, so many adults turned to “children’s” books. Includes readable detailed analyses of the Harry Potter books, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and David Almond’s Clay.

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Empire, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism

The dominance of the expansion and defense of the British Empire in British 19th-century fiction is explored by Arnold 1980, Bristow 1991, and Richards 1989. The influence of postcolonial thinking, summed up by McGillis 2000, can be seen in the revisionary readings of Kutzer 2000 and Logan 1999. Castle 1996 explores the same area from the point of view of unusual primary sources. Smith 2011 is part of the new wave of historians, challenging received wisdom by unearthing forgotten texts.

  • Arnold, Guy. Held Fast for England: G. A. Henty, Imperialist Boys’ Writer. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1980.

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    Enthusiastic but far from uncritical biography, examining Henty’s politics, literary qualities, reputation, and influence in some detail, and discusses almost all his children’s novels.

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  • Bristow, Joseph. Empire Boys: Adventures in a Man’s World. Reading Popular Fiction. London and Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1991.

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    Possibly the definitive account of the relations between historical and sociological events and 19th- and early-20th-century boys’ fiction. School stories, island stories, and the Boys’ Own Paper are directly related to Empire, and Bristow concludes with a related study of Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship, Kim, and Tarzan of the Apes.

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  • Castle, Kathryn. Britannia’s Children: Reading Colonialism through Children’s Books and Magazines. Studies in Imperialism. Manchester, UK, and New York: Manchester University Press, 1996.

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    Examines history textbooks and popular periodicals for children and the extent to which they have affected 20th-century attitudes. Contains valuable examples of primary texts not seen elsewhere.

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  • Kutzer, M. Daphne. Empire’s Children: Empire and Imperialism in Classic British Children’s Books. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 2000.

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    Considers the ways in which texts by Rudyard Kipling, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Edith Nesbit, Hugh John Lofting, A. A. Milne, and Arthur Ransome reflect and encourage imperialist thinking in children. Argues that childhood itself is colonized and that cultures attempt to relive past glories through their children.

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  • Logan, Mawuena Kossi. Narrating Africa: George Henty and the Fiction of Empire. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 1999.

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    Well-contextualized survey of Europe’s relationship with Africa and examples of “pre-Henty” writers—Daniel Defoe, Thomas Hughes, Frederick Marryat, William Henry Giles Kingston, and R. M. Ballantyne. A detailed study of six of Henty’s most important books is linked to Rider Haggard and Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) and a consideration of the cultural impact of 19th-century children’s literature.

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  • McGillis, Roderick, ed. Voices of the Other: Children’s Literature and the Postcolonial Context. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 2000.

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    Influential pioneering collection of new essays, with sections on theory, colonialism, postcolonialism, and neocolonialism. Includes chapters on cultural otherness and a critique of postcolonial theory as well as two important essays on Australian fiction, by John Stephens and Clare Bradford.

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  • Richards, Jeffrey, ed. Imperialism and Juvenile Literature. Studies in Imperialism. Manchester, UK, and New York: Manchester University Press, 1989.

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    Essential collection of essays, including studies of R. M. Ballantyne, George Henty, Alfred Harmsworth’s popular papers, flying stories, hunting and the natural world in juvenile literature, and schoolboy and schoolgirl fiction.

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  • Smith, Michelle J. Empire in British Girls’ Literature and Culture: Imperial Girls, 1880–1915. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

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    A groundbreaking exploration of fiction for girls, including new readings of The Girl’s Own Paper, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and E. Nesbit, and the first detailed examination of little-known texts, such as the Girl Guides Handbook, girls’ Robinsonnades, and the work of Bessie Marchant.

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Fairy Tales and Folktales

Although often regarded as the territory of children’s literature, histories such as Tatar 1992 and Warner 1994 demonstrate that fairy- and folktales belong in a much wider cultural context. However, the importance to society of the transmission of the tales through childhood reading has given rise to both theoretical explorations (Stephens and McCallum 1998) and psychological speculation (Bettelheim 1976).

  • Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Knopf, 1976.

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    Influential and highly suggestive study of the effect of fairy tales, much criticized for oversimplification and a limited cultural frame of reference.

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  • Stephens, John, and Robyn McCallum. Retelling Stories, Framing Culture: Traditional Story and Metanarratives in Children’s Literature. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 1998.

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    Triggered by the unusually high proportion of retellings in children’s literature, this book theorizes the processes through which stories are retold and the effects of cultural differences at different times, within the Western “metaethic.”

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  • Tatar, Maria. Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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    Important and often controversial challenge to Bettelheim, reading fairy tales as socializing instruments for childhood. A comprehensive study covering topics such as the pedagogy of fear, the art of dying happily ever after, and cannibalism and oral greed.

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  • Warner, Marina. From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers. London: Chatto and Windus, 1994.

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    Although only incidentally concerned with texts for children, this tour de force of accessible scholarship, dealing with every aspect of the tales in a wide international, cultural, and historical context, has a lot to contribute to the study of children’s literature.

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Family

The family story is one of the core genres of children’s literature: Alston 2008 traces its idealistic impetus, whereas Thiel 2008 deconstructs its illusions. Tucker and Gamble 2001 examines contemporary examples in detail.

  • Alston, Ann. The Family in English Children’s Literature. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    Using examples from across the history of children’s literature, Alston contends that the idealistic urge toward the nuclear family can be found equally in 19th-century writers, such as Mrs. Sherwood, and 21st-century writers, such as Jacqueline Wilson.

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  • Thiel, Liz. The Fantasy of Family: Nineteenth-Century Children’s Literature and the Myth of the Domestic Ideal. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    Deconstructs the Victorian self-image of the unified family by comparison with the realities of orphans and stepchildren and looks at the enduring potency of the myth. Illustrated by close readings of many little-known Victorian texts.

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  • Tucker, Nicholas, and Nikki Gamble. Family Fictions. Contemporary Classics of Children’s Literature. London and New York: Continuum, 2001.

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    A general history of the family story, with detailed essays on Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson, and Morris Gleitzman.

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Fantasy and Fantastic Realism

Until the late 20th century, fantasy defined the boundary between the childish and the adult, the trivial and the respectable. It is now regarded as fundamental to both adults’ and children’s literary traditions, and some of the best theorizing (Waller 2009, Le Guin 1993, Gray 2008) has been in the children’s literature field. Butler 2006, a rereading of major writers in the context of place and culture, is characteristic of the increasing trend toward the application of theory. Mendlesohn and James 2009 provides a succinct history of fantasy in general, Hunt and Lenz 2001 considers specific authors, and Sullivan 1989 explores the wide influence of Welsh myth.

  • Butler, Charles. Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children’s Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Accessible and innovative exploration of familiar tropes of the “second golden age” of British children’s literature.

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  • Gray, William. Death and Fantasy: Essays on Philip Pullman, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald and R. L. Stevenson. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2008.

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    Nine essays on the ways in which fantasy authors have made use of death, particularly of mothers, using psychoanalysis, theology, and literary theory. Makes links between the authors, notably that Lewis misread MacDonald, and Pullman misread Lewis.

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  • Hunt, Peter, and Millicent Lenz. Alternative Worlds in Fantasy Fiction. London: Continuum, 2001.

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    General essay on fantasy, with detailed studies of Ursula K. le Guin, Terry Pratchett, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

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  • Le Guin, Ursula K. Earthsea Revisioned. Cambridge, MA: Children’s Literature New England, 1993.

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    An exploration of the dominance of male figures in fantasy and Le Guin’s deliberately political decision to introduce a female hero in Tehanu, the fourth Earthsea novel. Paper presented at the Children’s Literature New England Conference, Worlds Apart, Keble College, Oxford University, 2–8 August 1992.

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  • Mendlesohn, Farah, and Edward James. A Short History of Fantasy. London: Middlesex University Press, 2009.

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    A decade-by-decade account of the development of fantasy, covering an astonishing range of titles (approximately 1,000), many of them children’s. Begins with a thorough definition of fantasy and ends with a chapter on 2000–2010.

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  • Sullivan, C. W., III. Welsh Celtic Myth in Modern Fantasy. Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. New York: Greenwood, 1989.

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    Includes extensive discussion of the use of Welsh myth in the work of Susan Cooper, Nancy Bond, Alan Garner, and Lloyd Alexander as well as many writers for adults.

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  • Waller, Alison. Constructing Adolescence in Fantastic Realism. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    Coins a new critical term: young adult fantastic realism. Explores the symbolic reflection of models of adolescence in fantastic tropes such as hauntings and time slip; real, virtual, and textual teens; and such writers as John Dickinson and Margaret Mahy. Elegant scholarship.

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Historical Fiction

Historical fiction raises many problems of adapting language, incident, culture, and politics to a contemporary child audience; its fashionableness tends to fluctuate with national self-images. Collins and Graham 2001 explores many of the problems (see also Empire, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism and War).

Horror and the Gothic

Burgeoning modern genres that may be seen as inappropriate to some concepts of childhood, horror, and the gothic are explored historically by Jackson, et al. 2008 and in a contemporary context by Reynolds, et al. 2001.

  • Jackson, Anna, Karen Coats, and Roderick McGillis, eds. The Gothic in Children’s Literature: Haunting the Borders. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    Wide-ranging collection of specialist essays, from a consideration of women novelists of the late 18th century, to more recent manifestations of the gothic in Harry Potter and the parodies of Lemony Snicket.

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  • Reynolds, Kimberley, Geraldine Brennan, and Kevin McCarron. Frightening Fictions. Contemporary Classics of Children’s Literature. London and New York: Continuum, 2001.

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    A discussion of the commodification of horror and vampire books, including the X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with detailed essays on the Point Horror series; Robert Westall; and David Almond, Philip Gross, and Lesley Howarth.

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Picture Books, Comics, and Illustration

Doonan 1993 and Nodelman 1988 were the pioneering studies of the complex relationship between words and pictures that makes the picture book such an important genre. Lewis 2001 and Nikolajeva and Scott 2001 are examples of the increasing sophistication of theorizing. Most general introductions and guides to children’s literature contain chapters on picture books. Whalley and Chester 1988, a general history, can be supplemented by Blake 2002 for more recent developments. McCloud 1994 is the standard work on the theory of comics.

  • Blake, Quentin, ed. Magic Pencil: Children’s Book Illustration Today. London: British Library, 2002.

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    Lavishly illustrated set of thirteen personal statements by contemporary artists, with an introduction by Blake.

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  • Doonan, Jane. Looking at Pictures in Picture Books. Stroud, UK: Thimble, 1993.

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    Classic argument for picture books as art, to be judged by the same aesthetic standards. Provides an analytical methodology for the general reader and classroom teacher.

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  • Lewis, David. Reading Contemporary Picturebooks: Picturing Text. London and New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2001.

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    Accessible approach to the theory of the picture book, analyzing ways in which the interaction of words and pictures has been described and arguing for the inclusion of reader response in the process. Surveys the contemporary picture book and its tendency to the postmodern, its relation to play and young readers, and the value of grammars of visual design.

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  • McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994.

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    Unique and encyclopedic discussion of the theory of the comic—“sequential art”—and visual communication, in the form of a comic strip.

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  • Nikolajeva, Maria, and Carole Scott. How Picturebooks Work. Children’s Literature and Culture. New York: Garland, 2001.

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    After a comprehensive review of picture book theory, provides a new critical vocabulary for the analysis of the picture book, in terms of setting, characterization, narrative perspective, time and movement, and other elements of the text.

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  • Nodelman, Perry. Words about Pictures: The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture Books. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988.

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    Seminal book on the subject, examining especially the relationship of words to images in picture books. Rather hampered by the lack of any illustrations.

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  • Whalley, Joyce Irene, and Tessa Rose Chester. A History of Children’s Book Illustration. London: John Murray, 1988.

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    Although dated, this remains, in the early 21st century, the most comprehensive (and beautifully produced) history of the subject.

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Poetry

Historically, despite its popularity in the education of children, “children’s” poetry has been undertheorized. Chambers 2009 and Styles, et al. 2010 go some way in redressing this. In the early 21st century, Styles 1997 is the only extensive history.

  • Chambers, Nancy, ed. Poetry for Children: The Signal Award, 1979–2001. Stroud, UK: Thimble, 2009.

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    The children’s literature journal Signal (1971–2003) published essays discussing its annual poetry award. This collection not only reviews much of the poetry published for children over twenty years, but also draws together attempts to formulate critical approaches. Contributors include John Wain, Jan Mark, Anthea Bell, and Margaret Meek.

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  • Styles, Morag. From the Garden to the Street: Three Hundred Years of Poetry for Children. Cassell Education. London: Cassell, 1997.

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    The only substantial history of children’s poetry in English available in the early 21st century. Descriptive and analytical rather than theory based, this text is highly readable and extremely rich in examples.

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  • Styles, Morag, Louise Joy, and David Whitley, eds. Poetry and Childhood. Stoke-on-Trent, UK, and Sterling, VA: Trentham, 2010.

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    Twenty-six essays from a 2009 British Library conference, covering theory, history, and teaching and offering a rare in-depth approach. Contributors are largely academics and educationalists: essays include Karen Coats, on humor; C. W. Sullivan III, on folk rhymes; and studies of such poets as Ted Hughes, Charles Causley, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Carol Ann Duffy.

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Religion

Whereas there are very many studies of major authors, such as C. S. Lewis and Philip Pullman, from a religious (usually evangelical) standpoint, serious academic studies, such as Bottigheimer 1996 and De Maeyer, et al. 2005, are rare (see also Fantasy and Fantastic Realism). More common are those that take an apologist view at one end of the faith spectrum or the other (O’Brien 1998, Williams 2012).

  • Bottigheimer, Ruth B. The Bible for Children: From the Age of Gutenberg to the Present. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1996.

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    Examines how children’s Bibles differ because of their cultural contexts. Bottigheimer contrasts European and American children’s Bibles, and Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish versions of stories, and detects a similar pattern in abridgments and adaptations.

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  • De Maeyer, Jan, Hans-Heino Ewers, Rita Ghesquière, Michel Manson, Pat Pinsent, and Patricia Quaghebeur, eds. Religion, Children’s Literature, and Modernity in Western Europe, 1750–2000. KADOC Studies on Religion, Culture, and Society. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2005.

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    Twenty-five scholarly essays by authorities from across Europe; indicative topics: “Hidden Religious Themes in 20th-Century European Children’s Literature” (Rita Ghesquière), “The Iconography of Children’s Versions of the Bible in 19th and 20th-Century France” (Isabelle Saint-Martin), “The Girl’s Own Paper (1880–1956): A Protestant Magazine” (Mary Cadogan).

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  • O’Brien, Michael D. A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child’s Mind. 2d ed. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1998.

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    An example of a widespread genre of religious (in this case Roman Catholic) criticism of children’s literature. O’Brien’s target is myth in general, and Tolkien, Lewis, and MacDonald in particular.

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  • Williams, Rowan. The Lion’s World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia. London: SPCK, 2012.

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    An apologist for Lewis’s non–politically correct views, relating them to the wider religious thinking behind the Narnia series.

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School Stories

The school story, and especially the private and boarding school story (examined in Richards 1988), has been seen as particularly suited to a child audience because of its enclosed setting, rituals, and formulaic structures. Boys’ school stories (examined in Musgrave 1985) predated girls’ stories (Cadogan and Craig 1985). School stories are predominantly a British phenomenon, with many dedicated enthusiasts (Bathurst 1994); there are two encyclopedic treatments of the subject: Kirkpatrick 2000 and Sims and Clare 2000.

Science Fiction

A relatively recent, and predominantly American, phenomenon, science fiction has been one of the last genres to attain literary respectability. Mendlesohn 2009 provides both a history and a theoretical context, whereas the contributors to Sullivan 1993 and Sullivan 1999 are confident of the legitimacy of their field.

  • Mendlesohn, Farah. The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children’s and Teens’ Science Fiction. Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland, 2009.

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    Combative, pioneering, and sometimes quixotic attempt to trace the development of children’s science fiction from 1950. More than 400 texts (with an appendix on picture-books), with a comprehensive coverage of themes, including eco–science fiction, dystopias, and gender and sexuality. Expresses individualistic views on children as readers.

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  • Sullivan, C. W., III, ed. Science Fiction for Young Readers. Contribution to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1993.

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    Expert essays, largely on American authors, including Robert A. Heinlein, Andre Norton, Eric Asimov, Madeleine L’Engle, and H. M. Hoover, but also detailed examination of John Christopher’s dystopias, Raymond Briggs’s When the Wind Blows, and female archetypes in Monica Hughes.

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  • Sullivan, C. W., III, ed. Young Adult Science Fiction. Contribution to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.

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    The first part is international, with substantial essays looking at young adult science fiction in North America, Britain, Germany, and Australia; the second deals with topics such as young adult science fiction as bildungsroman, war, film, and comic books.

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War

The paradox of war stories for children lies in the impulse to protect children from the horrors of war, but also to expose them to those horrors in order to influence the future—without sensationalizing or trivializing. A predominantly British view is taken by Agnew and Fox 2001; the German Nazi experience and the ethics of portraying the Holocaust in fiction are examined in detail in Kokkola 2003, Lathey 1999, and Shavit 2005, and an international perspective is given in Kenfel, et al. 2005. The standard British book on the First World War literature is Paris 2004 and on the Second World War, Edwards 2007.

  • Agnew, Kate, and Geoff Fox. Children at War: From the First World War to the Gulf. Contemporary Classics in Children’s Literature. London and New York: Continuum, 2001.

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    This book charts the shift between the “cultural certainties of 1914 to the pluralism and ambiguities of 2000” (p. 1). The specialist chapters are on novels set in the First World War and the Second World War in the United Kingdom, North America, and mainland Europe.

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  • Edwards, Owen Dudley. British Children’s Fiction in the Second World War. Societies at War. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

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    Monumental and engaging—if occasionally disorganized—account, including a great deal of material not available elsewhere. Extensive quotations from original sources.

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  • Kenfel, Veljka Ruzicka, Celia Vázquez García, and Lourdes Lorenzo García, eds. Mundos en conflicto: Representacion de Ideologías, enfrentamientos Sociales y guerras en la literature infantile y juvenile. Papers presented at the third Asociación Nacional de Investigación en Literatura Infantil y Juvenil held at the University of Vigo, 3–5 December 2003. Vigo, Spain: Universidade de Vigo, 2005.

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    A collection of forty-six conference-based papers. Essays in English include Riitta Oittinen on ethics and translation, Nina Christensen on Danish antiwar picture books, and Elena Lóengo on Free Will in Philip Pullman.

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  • Kokkola, Lydia. Representing the Holocaust in Children’s Literature. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    Analyzes the appeal of Holocaust literature to writers and children and discusses the place of the literature in education. Asserts that Holocaust fiction has a greater moral obligation to be historically accurate than historical fiction in general.

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  • Lathey, Gillian. The Impossible Legacy: Identity and Purpose in Autobiographical Children’s Literature Set in the Third Reich and the Second World War. Berne, Switzerland, and New York: Peter Lang, 1999.

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    Autobiographies published between 1970 and 1995, describing the experiences of Jewish, German, and British writers. Highlights the problems of honest narration to a young contemporary audience in the face of changing ideologies.

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  • Paris, Michael. Over the Top: The Great War and Juvenile Literature in Britain. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004.

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    Unique, entertaining, and impeccably informed, this is the definitive work on children’s literature and the First World War. It covers propaganda before and during the war, constructions of masculinity, army and air novels, the contribution of empire, and much else.

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  • Shavit, Zohar. A Past without a Shadow: Constructing the Past in German Books for Children. Translated by Aaron Jaffe and Atarah Jaffe. Children’s Literature and Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    Originally published in Hebrew. This text is a controversial and detailed study of more than 300 German children’s books spanning more than fifty years. Sets out to demonstrate how the history of the Third Reich and the Holocaust has been routinely distorted or elided, despite a move toward realism in the form as a whole, and reflects on the cultural consequences for Germany.

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Popular Culture and Children’s Literature

Children’s literature is often identified as popular culture by definition, and while the distinctions made between popular and elite literature in the “adult literary system” do not correspond exactly with those in the “children’s literary system,” distinctions can be made. Briggs, et al. 2008 takes a historical view, Zipes 2001 a political and polemical one.

  • Briggs, Julia, Dennis Butts, and M. O. Grenby, eds. Popular Children’s Literature in Britain. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008.

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    Effectively a history of critically neglected writers such as Holfland and Brazil, and genres, such as the development of pantomime, science texts, prize books, and popular educational journalism. The final section considers the major bestsellers, Blyton, Dahl, and Rowling.

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  • Zipes, Jack. Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children’s Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter. London and New York: Routledge, 2001.

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    One of a series of books of opinionated essays, discussing contemporary issues including “the cultural homogenization of American children,” “the contamination of the fairy tale,” and the Harry Potter phenomenon.

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Children’s Literature in Education

There are very many texts on the use of children’s literature in education, focusing on techniques and outcomes, that are outside the remit of this article. Detailed guides to the use of children’s literature in the classroom are provided by Huck and Kiefer 2003 (United States), Gamble and Yates 2008 (United Kingdom), and Kay E. Vandergrift’s Special Interest Page. Butler 2006 and Nodelman and Reimer 2003 are handbooks for college-level students and teachers. The underlying theory behind the use of children’s books in education can be found in Meek 1988, Weinreich 2000, and the collection Meek, et al. 1977.

  • Butler, Charles, ed. Teaching Children’s Fiction. Teaching the New English. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

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    Despite the title, and its concern with practical classroom applications, this book has a much wider usefulness in introducing the practical and theoretical range of children’s literature. Chapters include Pat Pinsent, on history; David Rudd, on culture; Jean Webb, on genre; Roderick McGillis, on pedagogy and theory; and Maria Nikolajeva, on picture books.

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  • Gamble, Nikki, and Sally Yates. Exploring Children’s Literature: Teaching the Language and Reading of Fiction. 2d ed. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2008.

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    Although designed as a practical handbook for teacher trainees, this enthusiastic book moves widely across the subject thematically and historically.

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  • Huck, Charlotte S., and Barabara Z. Kiefer. Children’s Literature in the Elementary School. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003.

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    Comprehensive review of children’s literature, including ways of defining and “valuing,” responses, genres, and information on developing a literature program, with advice on classroom practice. Includes chapter reviews, web links, and exhaustive bibliographies of primary and secondary texts (“Book Selection Aids”). One of several extensively illustrated guides produced by different American publishers.

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  • Meek, Margaret. How Texts Teach What Readers Learn. Stroud, UK: Thimble, 1988.

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    Seminal, brief investigation of literacy, and literary literacy, with reference to children’s literature, by the doyenne of the discipline.

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  • Meek, Margaret, Aidan Warlow, and Griselda Barton, eds. The Cool Web: The Pattern of Children’s Reading. London: Bodley Head, 1977.

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    A pioneering and very lively collection, including academic writing and popular journalism. Although the focus is on literacy and reading, the collection covers essential questions of discrimination, criticism, and reader response.

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  • Nodelman, Perry, and Mavis Reimer. The Pleasures of Children’s Literature. 3d ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2003.

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    Sensible, down-to-earth introductory handbook on reading and interpreting children’s literature and literature in general. Although designed as a course book, and including suggestions for “explorations,” the text is valuable for other readers and has an extensive theoretical base.

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  • Vandergrift, Kay E., ed. Kay E. Vandergrift’s Special Interest Page.

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    Idiosyncratic, widely eclectic, and nonacademic in tone, this database provides hundreds of links to author websites and to subject areas connected with education, teaching, children, and children’s literature.

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    • Weinreich, Torben. Children’s Literature: Art or Pedagogy? Translated by Don Bartlett. Frederiksberg, Denmark: Roskilde University Press, 2000.

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      A succinct summary of the basic issues of definition, the relationship between writers and readers, real and intended readers, and literature and education.

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    Children and Texts

    One of the many fascinating borderline areas of the study of children’s literature is where literary criticism overlaps with education, psychology, and literacy. A popular area has been working with children and picture books (Arizpe and Styles 2006, Styles and Bearne 2003, Toomey 2009, Styles and Arizpe 2009, and Watson and Styles 1996). Subjective-reading memoirs, such as Spufford 2002 and Tatar 2009 can provide valuable evidence, while Morgenstern 2009 is an excellent example of cross-disciplinary work.

    • Arizpe, Evelyn, and Morag Styles. Children Reading Pictures: Interpreting Visual Texts. London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2006.

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      The results of a two-year study of children’s responses to contemporary picture books. Extensive interview material, suggesting both the sophistication of the children’s responses and the importance of visual literacy.

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    • Morgenstern, John. Playing with Books: A Study of the Reader as Child. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

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      A unique approach to children’s literature, combining history, concepts of childhood, and stylistics and rhetoric, suggesting that children’s literature can be seen as “a kind of toy that children are biologically disposed to learn from.”

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    • Spufford, Francis. The Child That Books Built: A Memoir of Childhood and Reading. London: Faber and Faber, 2002.

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      Award-winning anecdotal evidence of the influence of children’s books on the development of an individual’s reading.

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    • Styles, Morag, and Evelyn Arizpe. Acts of Reading: Teachers, Text and Childhood. Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham, 2009.

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      A history and analysis of reading habits from Jane Johnson’s 18th-century nursery library to 21st-century teaching practices, with chapters on fables, the romantic imagination, theater, and the digital age.

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    • Styles, Morag, and Eve Bearne. Art, Narrative and Childhood. Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham, 2003.

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      Explores current visual texts and what visual literacy will mean in the future; topics include aboriginal visual narratives, comics, metaliteracy, and Dr. Seuss; writers include Michael Rosen, Margaret Meek, and Jean Perrot.

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    • Tatar, Maria. Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood. New York: W. W. Norton, 2009.

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      Controversial for its apparent impressionism, this exploration of children and stories is based partly on interviews with her students. Tatar discusses the origins of storytelling and analyzes how authors draw children into imaginary worlds.

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    • Toomey, Sarah. Embodying an Image: Gender and Genre in a Selection of Children’s Responses to Picturebooks and Illustrated Texts. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2009.

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      Based on a study in two primary schools (twenty-four interviews are extensively transcribed) demonstrating gender differences in perceptions and reading patterns.

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    • Watson, Victor, and Morag Styles, eds. Talking Pictures: Pictorial Texts and Young Readers. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1996.

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      A broad and cross-disciplinary collection of essays, theoretical, historical, and evidence based. Topics include intertextuality (with young children), reminiscences of reading (Michael Rosen), John Burningham (Victor Watson and children), and the views of an illustrator (Shirley Hughes).

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    Major Authors and Texts

    As children’s literature has become established as a discipline, academic and semiacademic studies of individual authors, Aidan Chambers (Chambers 2009, cited under 20th-Century Authors), Garner (Philip 1981, cited under 20th-Century Authors), Philip Pullman (Lenz 2005, cited under 20th-Century Authors), J. K. Rowling (Heilman 2009, cited under 20th-Century Authors), and C. S. Lewis (Williams 2012, cited under 20th-Century Authors), have become more common. Meek and Watson 2003, Butler 2006, and Gray 2008 (all cited under Collections of Essays) are characteristic of genre- or theme-based studies. David Rudd’s book (Rudd 2000, cited under 20th-Century Authors) on Enid Blyton is the first serious study of this best-selling author. Work on earlier authors varies from the bibliographical (Butts 1992, cited under 19th-Century Authors) to the biographical (Cooper 2002, cited under 19th-Century Authors), the historical-critical (Courtney and Schultze 2007, cited under 19th-Century Authors), and the literary-theoretical (Walsh 2010, cited under 19th-Century Authors).

    Collections of Essays

    Next to collections based on conferences, themed volumes that focus on major authors are perhaps the most rapidly growing group of critical texts; Meek and Watson 2003, Butler 2006, and Gray 2008 are characteristic.

    • Butler, Charles. Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children’s Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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      An investigation into the links between landscape and myth by authors influenced by Tolkien and Lewis.

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    • Gray, William. Death and Fantasy: Essays on Philip Pullman, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald and R. L. Stevenson. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2008.

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      Makes interesting links between MacDonald, Lewis, and Pullman, using philosophical and psychological analyses.

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    • Meek, Margaret, and Victor Watson. Coming of Age in Children’s Literature: Growth and Maturity in the Work of Philippa Pearce, Cynthia Voight and Jan Mark. Contemporary Classics of Children’s Literature. London and New York: Continuum, 2003.

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      General discussion of personal development, maturation, and rites of passage, with three long analytical chapters.

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    19th-Century Authors

    Work on 19th-century authors often emanates from small presses (Cooper 2002, Courtney and Schultze 2007) or specialist publishers (Butts 1992, Raeper 1987), but is generally conducted at a highly specialized level (Walsh 2010).

    • Butts, Dennis. Mistress of Our Tears: A Literary and Bibliographical Study of Barbara Hofland. Aldershot, UK: Scolar Press, 1992.

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      Brief biography of Hofland (b. 1770–d. 1844), with an examination of her themes, the contemporary book trade, and contemporary responses to her work. A fifty-page detailed bibliography of her books.

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    • Cooper, Jane. Mrs Molesworth: A Biography. Crowborough, UK: Pratts Folly, 2002.

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      Exhaustive and original literary biography of the best-selling children’s author of the late 19th century.

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    • Courtney, Julia, and Clemence Schultze, eds. Characters and Scenes: Studies in Charlotte M. Yonge. Abingdon, UK: Beechcroft, 2007.

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      Twelve distinguished essays on “the novelist of the Oxford Movement.” Yonge was a “crossover” novelist, and these essays examine her domestic, social, and religious fiction and her critical reception.

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    • Raeper, William. George MacDonald: Novelist and Victorian Visionary. Tring, UK: Lion, 1987.

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      An exhaustive biography, including extensive discussions of MacDonald’s books for both adults and children.

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    • Walsh, Sue. Kipling’s Children’s Literature: Language, Identity, and Constructions of Childhood. Ashgate Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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      Kipling straddles the divide of the centuries, and this book deals extensively with Kipling’s children’s books from The Jungle Books (1894–1895) to Rewards and Fairies (1910). A highly theorized and academic approach.

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    20th-Century Authors

    Alan Garner has some claim to be the most distinguished 20th-century author for children, but apart from some essays, criticism is confined to Philip 1981; Garner 1997 provides a useful supplement. Similarly, Chambers (Chambers 2009), Dahl (Alston and Butler 2012), Lewis (Williams 2012), and Pullman (Lenz 2005) are just beginning to be written on; Heilman 2009 on J. K. Rowling is one of a growing library, and Rudd 2000 on Blyton may be the first of many.

    • Alston, Ann, and Catherine Butler. Roald Dahl. New Casebooks. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2012.

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      Ten new essays on Dahl, covering humor, language, education, family, feminism, crime and violence, film, and the commodification of fantasy.

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    • Chambers, Nancy, ed. Reading the Novels of Aidan Chambers: Seven Essays. Stroud, UK: Thimble, 2009.

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      A rare, serious, critical examination of a distinguished, award-winning author. Contributors include Emer O’Sullivan, Lissa Paul, and Martha Westwater.

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    • Garner, Alan. The Voice That Thunders: Essays and Lectures. London: Harvill, 1997.

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      Sublimely egotistical examination of Garner’s life, methods, and motivations. Illuminating and highly unusual for a children’s author. Essays by Aidan Chambers are perhaps the nearest equivalent.

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    • Heilman, Elizabeth, ed. Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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      Originally published in 2003, as Harry Potter’s World: Multidisciplinary Critical Perspectives (New York: RoutledgeFalmer). Wide-ranging set of essays, covering (among much else) theology, gender, desire, genre, and popular culture. Includes Maria Nikolajeva, on “Harry Potter and the Secrets of Children’s Literature.”

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    • Lenz, Millicent, ed. His Dark Materials Illuminated: Critical Essays on Philip Pullman’s Trilogy. Landscapes of Childhood. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005.

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      Fourteen substantial essays, exploring Pullman’s ontology, intertextuality, and theology, including religious subversion and the reaction of feminist theologians.

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    • Philip, Neil. A Fine Anger: A Critical Introduction to the Work of Alan Garner. London: Collins, 1981.

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      Pioneering examination of Garner’s work, paying close attention to Garner’s classical and mythological sources. Has some claim to be the first serious monograph on a children’s author.

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    • Rudd, David. Enid Blyton and the Mystery of Children’s Literature. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2000.

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      The first and highly authoritative examination of Blyton’s work, and its interaction with children. Rudd examines children’s responses, uses an array of advanced critical theory, and (readably) revises many assumptions about children’s literature in general.

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    • Williams, Rowan. The Lion’s World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia. London: SPCK, 2012.

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      A philosophical defense of Lewis, arguing that the misogynism, racism, and sadism that some have perceived in the Narnia books are at once characteristic of his times and can be explained in other ways.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 11/27/2013

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791231-0014

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