History of Children's Literature

Displays events of children's literature throughout our history.


1st Children's Book


The first book to be published for the North Americans. John Cotton's Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes, London 1646 (page 5, para 7)

The beginning


It is Britain in 1800's where children's literature began. Overtime, the longing for children's learning and enjoyment grew and fairytale books began to print.

John Newbery


John Newbery created a little pocket book for enjoyment in 1744

18th Century Popular Books


Towards the end of the eighteenth century children's books such as the alphabet, nursery rhymes and poetry were available. Keifer, 2010 (p 69)

Book production


Books such as fairytales, The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were published and printed in mass throughout Britain and a need grew in USA.

1st Book Society


The missionaries in Calcutta set up the School Book Society

1st English Dominance Book


The Cherupaithangaikku Upakaratham Kathaka (c. 1824) book listed stories translated from the english language to Kerala the Malayalam language (page 5 para 4)

19th Century Rise of the Novel


Novels consisting of family stories, animal stories and adventure stories. Magazines such as St. Nicholas Magazine were also popular. Keifler, 2010 (p 69)



19th century printing technology improved and colour printing techniques were introduced by Edmund Evans. Keifer, 2010 (p 69)

Recognition of Literacy


Twentieth century, publishers, authors, and illustrators recognise children's literature reflects the many faces and cultures of American society. Keifer, 2010 (p 70)

Book Week


Federick Melcher established Children's Book Week as a project of the American Booksellers Association. Keifer, 2010 (p70)

1st American Picture Book


First American picture book Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats. Keifer, 2010 (p 71)

Artists Refuge in US

1930 - 1940

European artists seek refuge in the US. Their unique contributions greatly enriched the world of picture storybooks. Keifer, 2010 (p 72)

Racist stereotypes

1945 - 1970

Books portrayed people of various culture's, depicting racist stereotypes. This began before the 1950's well into the 1970's. Kiefer, 2010 (p 73)

Censorship book condemned


Judy Blume's book Forever (1995) has been condemned worldwide as it is the first book which describes sexual intercourse in a children's book. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forever..._(novel)

Worldwide tension

1993 - 1995

Children's literature overtime developed tension between religion, education and political power on one hand and various concepts associated with 'freedom' (notably fantasy and the imagination) (page 5, para 5). Well known English-Histories include Darton 1932/1982 to Avery 1994 (USA) and many more in-between.

Adult vs Children

1995 - 2001

The following books found in Hunt (2005) Chapter 1 Introduction: The expanding world of literature studies; Chris Jenk's Childhood (1996), Colin Heywood's A History of Childhood (2001), and Carol Garhart Mooney's Theories of Childhood (2000), discusses the difference between adult book and children's books and how childhood changes over time.

Constructions of History

1995 - 1997

Feminism and homosexuality had viewpoints from many yet weren't written about until 1995 Lynne Vallone's Disciplines of Virtue, Girls' Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Para 1 page 4).

Banned books


Educational Research Analysts provided evidence for local campaigners to ban books in Texas. Books include The Diary of Anne Frank, The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter literature (page 6, para 8).


Fantasy literature: 20th Century

1900 - 1952

Fantasy books were mainly written by English writers. Keifer, 2010 (p 77):
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows 1908 pictures by Ernest Shepard
A play written by J.M. Barrie, 1904, Never Never Land, Peter Pan. Book written in 1906 called Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens illustrations by Arthur Rackham
L.Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz, published 1900 - first American fantasy
Hugh Lofting, Dr Dolittle
Hugh Lofting, 1922, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle - Newbery Medal
P.L. Travers, 1920's, Mary Poppins
Margery Williams, 1922, The Velveteen Rabbit
A.A. Milne, 1926, Winnie the Pooh. Illustrations by Ernest Shepard
E.B. White, 1952, Charlotte's Web
J.R.R. Tolkein, 1937 The Hobbit
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1943 translated, The Little Prince - written primarily to adults

Fantasy Literature: 2nd half of 20th Century

1950 - 2000

The 2nd half of the twentieth century emphasised serious themes. Keifer, 2010 (p 77)
C.S. Lewis, 1950, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - imaginary kingdom of Narnia
Madeline L'Engle, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper and Ursula K. Le Guin wrote literature in the 1960's about battle between good and evil (high fantasy)
1980's Hamilton's The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl, 1983
Lawrence Yep, Dragon of the Lost Sea, 1982
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter series in the 21st Century


20th Century: 1st work rare poet


Walter de la Mare's Songs of Childhood (1902)
"This poet understood the importance and meaning of early childhood experiences" Keifer, 2010 (p 78)

Poems: Enjoyment


A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young (1924)
Now We Are Six (1927) Keifer, 2010 (p 78)

African American Poets

1932 - 1956

Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper (1932)
Countee Cullen, The Lost Zoo (1940)
Gwendolyn Brooks, Bronzeville Boys and Gils (1956)

Historical Fiction



To provide children with a view of the past reading historical fiction
Hendrik Van Loon won the Newbery Medal for the book titled The Story of Mankind (1921)

1932: Life in midwestern frontier


Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote Little House in the Big Woods books. These books gave the reader a view of what white males believed made them superior over other races and their lands.

1970: Misguided


William H Armstrong on the Newbery award for the Sounder book. This book demonstrated a misguided view of African Americans, portraying them as nameless figures.

1974: Face up to wrongs


Paula Fox, The Slave Dancer Newbery Medal. Paula tried to "face up to the wrongs in the past" Keifer, 2010 (p 79) yet failed somewhat.

1975: Success


Mildred Taylor wrote Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1975) which successfully portrayed an "accurate account of the African American experience in the Jim Crow South." Keifer, 2010 (p 79)

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

1908: L.M. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables


1910: the beginning


A little Princess written by Frances Hodgson in 1905 and The Secret Garden in 1910.
Teachers need to ensure they ask children questions about these books and books from earlier eras through a critical lens. Keifer, 2010 (p 79)

1945: Realistic fiction reflects war


As time passes, "fiction now reflects war, depression and contemporary social problems" Keifer, 2010 (p 79)
Strawberry Girl written in 1945 by Lois Lenski won the Newbery Medal

1945: Prejudice openly discussed


Jesse Jackson wrote Call Me Charley, openly discussing prejudice for the first time

1975: At last, cultural recognition


Literature such as M.C. Higgins the Great written by Virginia Hamilton had finally brought about "people of colour representing authenticity of cultural experiences, at long last received recognition" Keifer, 2010 (p 79)