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Children's Literature - Essay Example

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Children’s Literature The concept of literature written specifically for children didn’t truly begin until sometime around the mid-1800s. While fairy tales had been told for generations, these were stories intended for a general audience, often including explicit or gory details intended to speak to the adult audience about adult topics…
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Childrens Literature
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Download file to see previous pages Science was starting to understand some of the great mysteries of life and becoming capable of explaining them in ways that didn’t depend upon the church. Political structures throughout the world had undergone significant changes within living memory and were not yet fully settled. Women began to band together against their oppressed status and philosophers were beginning to puzzle out a greater understanding of the human mind and the way it works. The child, up to this point, had often been considered either a sinful and wild creature or a miniature adult yet these new advancements revealed the child was instead something still developing. There was a “veritable explosion of information about this period of physiological and cognitive development in human beings” in which literature became “a central vehicle for expressing ideas about the self and its history” (Steedman 5). The introduction of magic and fantasy through the fairy tale and other stories proved quite effective in teaching children important life lessons in a way they could understand as can be seen in stories such as J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Breaking away from mundane experience through the introduction of fantasy and the magical realm enables authors to personify and exaggerate various behaviors, values and character traits. This provides children with a more accessible avenue to comprehending complex concepts while remaining in keeping with their varying levels of understanding. Although cognitive ability is known to be present at birth, it continues to improve upon skills acquired throughout the preschool years in order to apply and adapt to things that exist outside of the self. There are four main categories of skills developed during this period (Santrock). The first to develop are self help skills in which the child learns to take care of their daily needs such as getting dressed. They also learn social help skills in which they begin to perceive the importance of helping others such as taking part in household chores and demonstrating their ability to think outside of themselves. Academic skills also develop as the child builds analytical skills such as those necessary for mathematics and logic. The final main category of development refers to play skills. These skills enable the child to further perfect previously learned skills by participating in play and physical activity. They also end up placing themselves in situations in which they must analyze situations quickly and accurately to achieve the desired goals. Through such activities, they significantly improve their speech and communication skills as well as comprehension, vocabulary, pronunciation and sentence construction. These are all ideas brought forward in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865) and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (1904). Many of the early fantasy novels such as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan are frame stories. These are stories that reveal a collection of adventures tied together by a unifying thread of narrative. The popularity of this format for these kinds of stories exists in the ability of the frame to reveal the connection between the real world and the world of fantasy. It provides a means of breaking through the adult paradigms of reality that are ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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