Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Historic Shifts in Children's Books


Little Goody Two-Shoes, 1768 edition of the novel
It might seem totally obvious: Children should read fun, fantastical books in the classroom and outside of it, so they can learn to love to read. But it turns out that this particular view of children's books is relatively new. 
Late 1600s: John Locke, a British philosopher, wanted to change education — and one of his big ideas was to make reading fun. 
1865: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland kicked off a whole series of books that focused on imagination — Peter Pan, Tom Sawyer, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden — books now considered staples of the "golden age" of children's literature. 
Mid-20th century: The U.S. competition with the Soviet Union drove a re-evaluation of children's books in the classroom. Suddenly, the whole country was afraid that the U.S. was falling behind, and began the effort to make early readers that children might actually enjoy. The result? Seuss and Sendak were unleashed in schools, and the shift away from morally improving, no-frills lessons that began with Alice a century earlier was complete. 
Now: There is a shift toward books that confront the complexity — and deep emotional challenges — that children and adolescents face. There's also been a growing move toward books that reflect the diversity of the current student population. Books like the Hunger Games series, with its dark themes of violence and frustration, are part of this shift.
Source: NPR

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