Children's literature consists of the books, stories, and poems which are enjoyed by children. Modern children's literature is classified in different ways, including by genre or the intended age of the reader: fiction, poetry, biographies, history, fables, legends and fairy tales.
Children's literature has its roots in the stories and songs that adults told their children as an oral tradition. Even since widespread printing, many classic tales were created for adults and have been adapted for a younger audience.
Children's literature by genre:
Genres may be determined by technique, tone, content, or length. The categories or sub-genres are:
- Picture books: Some modern examples:
Abe Lincoln: The boy who loved books by Kay Winters, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Simon & Schuster, 2003).
Chicken soup by heart by Esther Hershenhorn, illustrated by Roseanne Litzinger (Simon & Schuster, 2002).
Henry and the buccaneer bunnies by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by John Manders (Candlewick, 2005).
- Traditional Literature: is also referred to as Folklore or folk Literature. It encompasses the rituals, customs, superstitions, and manners of a particular group that are passed orally or in writing from one generation to the next. It is described as being “a window through which children in today’s world may view cultures of long ago.” The retellings of a tale may differ from the tale due to the oral traditions.
Examples:The Princess and the Pea. Adapted and illustrated by Janet Stevens. A Holiday House Book (1982)The Tortoise and the Hare. Adapted and illustrated by Janet Stevens. Holiday House (1984)
- Fiction, including fantasy, realistic fiction and historical fiction.
The Marshall Plan Workbook: Writing You Novel from Start to Finish by Evan Marshall
Queen Victoria: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert.
- Biography and autobiography:
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Frank, Anne.
Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Freedman, Russell.
- Poetry and verse:
A Child's Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson.
A light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.
Children's literature by age category:Books for younger children tend to be written in very simple language, use large print, and have many illustrations. Books for older children use increasingly complex language, normal print, and fewer, if any, illustrations.
- Picture books appropriate for pre-readers or ages 0–5.
- Early Reader Books appropriate for children age 5–7. These books are often designed to help a child build his or her reading skills.
- Chapter books appropriate for children ages 7–12.
- Short chapter books, appropriate for children ages 7–9.
- Longer chapter books, appropriate for children ages 9–12.
- Young-adult fiction appropriate for children age 12–18.
"Children’s literature is the early foundation for our imagination, understanding of others, and the way we approach the world"
Cynthia Leitich Smith (1998-2012). Children's Picture Books. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/favorites/by_format/pic_books.html. [Last Accessed 28 October 2012].
(). TRADITIONAL LITERATURE. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.frankserafini.com/Handouts/Units/TradLitUnit.htm. [Last Accessed 28 October 2012].
(2012). Children's literature. [ONLINE] Available at: e.g. http://www.microsoft.com. [Last Accessed 28 October 2012].