The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Children's Literature
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CHILDREN'S LITERATURE. Books written for or suited to the young. From a stricter point of view, children's literature comprises books specially written for children. In either case books about childhood intended for adult readers are excluded and will not be considered in this survey. But it is really impossible to define children's books without instancing titles of children's favorites. Such a list would show, for one thing, that quite as many works not written for children have found favor with them as those that were. Thus, parts of ‘The Bible,’ Homer's ‘Odyssey,’ ‘The Pilgrim's Progress,’ ‘The Arabian Nights,’ ‘Gulliver's Travels,’ and ‘Baron Munchausen’ — none of them intended for children — are just as much children's books as ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ Andersen's ‘Fairy Tales,’ ‘The Water Babies,’ and ‘Peter Pan’ — which were expressly written for juvenile readers. That the former should be much relished by children and the latter also by adults, proves conclusively the impossibility of drawing a hard-and-fast line between juvenile literature and other kinds of books. Any book that interests or comes within the comprehension of children generally may therefore be considered as belonging to the large and miscellaneous class of children's books.
History. — The difficulty of formulating a satisfactory definition of children's books adds to the perplexities of the historian of juvenile literature and helps to account for the woeful want of chronological definiteness in many histories of children's literature. Thus, while some of these date the beginning of children's books from 1715 — that is, from the appearance of Isaac Watts's ‘Divine and Moral Songs’ — others go back as far as the 7th century — to a Latin work by one Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury, and to the school texts of the Venerable Bede. For our purposes this sketch need not extend beyond the 15th century, before which children's books can hardly be said to have existed. What, are now considered such by some imaginative historians were mainly lesson texts, written in Latin and intended generally for pupils in monastic schools. Such works belong rather to the history of education than to the history of children's literature. Passing by therefore the pseudo-juveniles of Aldhelm, Bede, Alcuin and even Aelfric, whose ‘Colloquy’ was one of the most interesting beginnings of books for the young, we come to the peculiar 15th and 16th century productions whose nature and purpose we shall now consider.
The Early Period. — During the 15th century real attempts at the writing of children's books were made by various authors, whose chief purpose was moral or other instruction. This appears in their very titles: ‘The Babees Boke; or, A lytyl Reporte of how Young People should behave’ (circ. 1475); ‘The Boke of Curtesye’ (1460); Simon's ‘Lesson of Wysedom for all Manner Chyldryn’; and the like. All these were written in Latin — one of them, ‘Stans Puer ad Mensam’ (‘The Page Standing at the Table,’ 1430) still preserves its Latin title — and most of them in rhyme. Not only was their general tone moral or didactic, being intended to inculcate lessons in manners and conduct, but their appeal was very limited, being addressed mostly to boys of noble families destined to serve as pages, esquires, etc., on to the rank of knighthood. There was not even the sugar-coating of narrative to render such wholesale didacticism palatable. In no sense of the word, therefore, can these 15th century rhymed treatises be considered as children's books.
The next stage in the development of children's reading was reached toward the end of the 16th century, with the invention of The Hornbook (q.v.), which for the first time put reading matter into the hands of children. Such instruction as this crude device contained was decidedly religious. A variation of the Hornbook, however, which appeared a century later and was known as the ‘Battledore,’ “contained easy reading lessons and little wood-cuts, besides the alphabets, numerals and so forth, but never any religious teaching. Now and then a short table or didactic story appears.” These battledores, crude makeshifts for modern primers, were long very popular, surviving into the second half of the 19th century.
Much more interesting to the unsophisticated boys and girls of this period must have been the numerous ballads, which, circulating freely among the common people, could not fail to attract the attention of the young. Among the better known of these old ballads were Adam Bell, Guy of Warwick, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, and the prolific Robin Hood series. It was these and other mediæval ballads that have yielded such nursery favorites as Jack the Giant Killer, The Babes in the Wood and Tom Thumb and that in the 17th and 18th centuries became so popular in the form of chap books, of which more presently. It is interesting to note in passing that those ballads have survived the longest which appeal most strongly to juvenile readers.
The Middle Period. — Having learned their letters from the ‘Battledore’ 17th century children had no means of satisfying their craving for reading save the above-mentioned Chap-Books (q.v.). These cheap and uninviting leaflets, printed in type calculated to ruin children's eyes and illustrated in wood-cuts that violated the proprieties and shocked one's taste, must have been very sorry things indeed. Yet, forbidding as they were, these pamphlets represented the first embodiment of popular literature, intended as they were for every age and taste, and costing but a penny each. Though not written for children, these little tracts, whose popularity was phenomenal and whose vogue lasted far into the 19th century, put within the reach of the young tales of action, stories of heroism and adventure, narratives of peace and war, etc., which must have enchanted the juvenile reader of those early days. It was an unfortunate boy indeed that could not own such things as Jack and the Giants, Guy of Warwick, Hector of Troy or Hercules of Greece in the centuries of chap-books. Indeed, it was in this crude form that such fairy stories as Blue Beard, Cinderella and other of the Mother Goose Tales collected by Perrault, French fountain-head of fairy tales, first appeared. Possibly even such classics as the ‘Canterbury Tales’ were also peddled about by hawkers on streets and highways, with all the lustiness of a town crier.
To this period, too, belong the stern and gloomy New England Primers, which long embodied the religious features of the hornbooks aforementioned. The general tone of the so-called children's books written in Puritan times may be judged from such titles as James Janeway's ‘Token for Children; an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young children’ and Francis Cokain's ‘Divine Blossoms; Prospect or Looking Glass for Youth.’ Small wonder therefore that, in view of such unimaginative vehicles for religious instruction as these — and their number was appalling — such a gem as Bunyan's ‘The Pilgrim's Progress’ was eagerly seized upon by juvenile readers, written though it was for their elders.
But, dull and forbidding as were these early attempts at children's books — the hornbooks, chap-books, tokens, primers, etc. — which reached their culmination in such works as Franklin's ‘Poor Richard,’ they were the undoubted forerunners of real children's literature, whose rise we must now consider. As such, their historical importance should not be underestimated.
The Period of Transition. — The rise of real children's books — that is, books specially written for children — dates from the second half of the 18th century. It was then that such educational reformers as Rousseau, Froebel and Pestalozzi aroused that new interest in childhood which culminated in modern Child Study (q.v.). Obviously, before this general awakening to the special needs and problems of the child as a child, his reading appeared to involve no special difficulties. One of the first manifestations of this new realization — the realization that the child is not merely a diminutive adult, but a being with tastes and interests peculiar to himself — was the founding of a children's magazine (Weisze's Kinderfreund).
But the turning point in the development of children's literature seems to have been reached by 1760, when John Newbery (q.v.), the first publisher of books for children, issued a small collection of nursery rhymes under the title of ‘Mother Goose's Melody.’ It was five years later that Goldsmith, who probably edited the little volume just mentioned published his ‘History of Margery Two-Shoes,’ which is generally considered the first real children's story written — and it is still a favorite with younger children. But the enterprising publisher, assisted by Goldsmith, Dr. Johnson and lesser celebrities driven to hack-work, published hundreds of little volumes for juvenile readers, whose appetites he both stimulated and sought to satisfy. This prolific and ambitious publisher ran the gamut of children's reading, from young folk's magazines to grammar-texts and a ‘Circle of Sciences,’ a sort of compendium of universal knowledge. The tone of most of the Newbery publications, however, was still didactic. Such titles as ‘The Renowned History of Giles Gingerbread, a little boy who lived upon learning’; ‘The Whitsuntide Gift, or the Way to be Happy’; and ‘The Valentine Gift, or how to behave with honor, integrity and humanity’ — and they are not by any means exceptional — sufficiently indicate the type of thing produced by “the philanthropic publisher of Saint Paul's Churchyard,” as Goldsmith once called John Newbery.
A somewhat similar service to children's books was rendered in America by Isaiah Thomas, the long-lived Massachusetts printer and bookseller, the pioneer publisher of juvenile literature in die western world. Drawing freely upon Newbery's list, he needed but to alter a bit the English terminology and give the stories a New England setting to make his reprints interesting to children of Colonial and Revolutionary times. In such stories as ‘The Juvenile Biographer’ (containing accounts of Mistresses Allgoo, Careful and Lovebook, together with the narratives of Mr. Badenough and other heroes) the English text is easily recognizable. They represented no very great advance, it must be admitted, over the least cheerless New England primers. Nor were such of the Thomas publications as were written in America tinged by less sombre sternness. ‘Godly Children the Parents' Joy’; ‘A Dying Father's Legacy to an Only Child’; and Janeway's ‘Token for the Children of New England’ — were the self-explanatory titles of some of these. The echo of Puritan England and Colonial America was far too distinct in such children's books — they were in no sense real literature — to make them delightful reading for healthy boys and girls. For that they had still to wait.
In Germany the educator Basedow and others originated a type of literature which, intended for children and undeveloped adults, combines instruction and narrative in an entertaining manner. Although the art of such tales was still crude, they form another interesting link in the evolution of children's literature. It was as a result of this movement inaugurated by The Philanthropium (see Philanthropy) that Defoe produced his children's classic. ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ so many times translated and imitated — only half successfully, it should be noted, in ‘The Swiss Family Robinson.’
The Modern Period. — At least four distinct streams of influence are distinguishable in this great period of children's literature, which was well under way by the beginning of the 19th century. These may be characterized as (1) The Rousseau Influence; (2) The Sunday School Influence; (3) The Poetic Influence; and (4) The Classical Influence. We shall briefly consider each of them.
(1) The first of these influences has already been referred to. The enthusiastic disciples of Rousseau who wrote books for children — notably the two Edgeworths, Thomas Day and Mrs. Barbauld — accepted without question the narrowly utilitarian principles propounded in the ‘Emile’. The result, so far as children's reading was concerned, was not altogether a happy one. The writers of this school conceived the function of children's books to be informational and reformative. They, in effect, substituted educational and moral didacticism for the religious didacticism of preceding periods. Thus, parents are urged by the Edgeworths in their ‘Practical Education’ (1796) to banish dolls from the nursery, while the epoch-making ‘Parent's Assistant’ (1796) and ‘Moral Tales’ (1801) — perhaps the best known and most meritorious children's books credited to Maria Edgeworth — are equally laden with moral “objects” and information. Day's ‘Sanford and Merton’ (1783), one of the most famous juveniles of this school and long a children's favorite, would be quite as dull as the Edgeworth books save for its inclusion of some classic tales that constitute its sole redeeming feature. Perhaps even more insipid were the children's books of Mrs. Barbauld, best known for her ‘Evenings at Home’ (1795), whose every chapter seeks to impart some definite lesson; her ‘Early Lessons for Children’ (1774), written for the special edification of Charles Aiken, himself a writer of children's books; and her ‘Hymns in Prose for Children’ (1774), in which, like in all her works, instruction and narrative walk side by side. Among the descendants of these moral and educational writers was Jacob Abbott, author of the once popular Rollo, Jonas and Lucy books.
(2) The writers of juveniles identified with the Sunday School movement, started by Robert Raikes (q.v.), were still too didactic in tone, though their didacticism took on a somewhat social hue. The one direct effect of this movement upon juvenile literature was to create an unusual demand for tracts, a demand which Hannah More was the first to endeavor to satisfy. Her numerous tracts, from ‘The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain,’ her most famous one, to the least meritorious piety pamphlets, are redolent with a fundamental moral ideal and abound in real pictures of humble folks worthy of a Charles Dickens. But throughout these and all her longer works, the acquisition of knowledge is considered as but a means to a better understanding of the catechism. The imaginative child's fancy must still content itself with very low flights, if it can rise at all.
Pretty much the same may be said of the juveniles of Sarah Kirby Trimmer, a more famous writer of the Sunday School group, who has been called the parent of the didactic age in England. Most of her books — such as ‘Easy Lessons for Children’ (1780), ‘Easy Introduction to the Knowledge of Nature’ (1782) and ‘Sacred History for Young Persons’ (1785) — were intended for use in the Sunday Schools, which Mrs. Trimmer had helped to open. But it is not for her religious writing as much as for her ‘History of the Robins’ (1789), which represents the earliest attempt to teach children kindness toward the animal world, that Mrs. Trimmer is best remembered
Among the many other writers of this school, mention must be made of Mrs. Sherwood, for her ‘Fairchild Family’ (1818-47), including ‘Little Henry and His Beaver,’ ‘The Child's Pilgrim's Progress,’ etc. A distant follower in America was Elizabeth Wetherell, author of ‘Queechy’ and ‘The Wide Wide World,’ works far above the average religious or Sunday School story written in America during the last century — such as are exemplified by the Elsie and the Pansy books. In the better stories of this class, though there is an unmistakable religious background, the picture of life is generally vivid and the narrative of considerable interest. The stories of Charlotte Yonge are among the very best religious tales extant
(3) With the gradual advance made in the literary qualities of children's books, special attention to juvenile poetry came as a matter of course. One of the first writers to pen a volume of verses specially for children was Isaac Watts (q.v.), a man belonging to an earlier age than we are now considering. His name must be mentioned here as a worthy predecessor of the better known children's poets to be spoken of presently. The verses of Dr. Watts — and such a charming hymn as ‘Holy Angels Guard Thy Bed’ is among the best in the language — show the truest understanding of childhood, childhood seen in retrospect and with an adult's sadness over the lost joys of innocence.
Much more didactic were the Taylor sisters, Jane and Ann, whose poetry makes a far greater appeal to juvenile readers than anything Watts ever penned. Their ‘Original Poems for Infant Minds’ (1804), containing verses of real merit, seek to emphasize such social virtues as generosity, honest and truthfulness — an emphasis no longer religious, it will be noticed, but distinctly ethical. Their aim was to interpret the world through the eyes of childhood, an ambitious undertaking in which they hardly succeeded
Far more successful in this respect were the children's verses of William Blake, whose ‘Songs of Innocence’ (1787), though chronologically belonging to the 18th century, is of the 19th century in form and spirit. So happily are the modern regard for childhood and the latter's responsiveness to adult sympathy blended in Blake's verses that they suggest the best children's lyrics of Wordsworth and Christina Rossetti. Indeed, nothing finer than his ‘Songs of Innocence,’ with its remarkable imagery and grace, was added to children's verse before Robert Louis Stevenson's delightfully reminiscent ‘Child's Garden of Verses’ (1885), which has been the forerunner and inspiration of a great many volumes of poetry for children.
(4) The literary heights reached in children's verse during the 19th century marked but one of the important phases of the rapid development of modern children's literature. Another — perhaps an outgrowth of the first — was the new and increasing zeal for putting the classics within the reach of the young. By the middle of the last century four most noteworthy and very successful manifestations of this salutary tendency appeared. Kingsley's ‘Greek Heroes’ (1856), Lamb's ‘Adventures of Ulysses’ (1808) and Hawthorne's ‘Wonder Book’ (1852) and ‘Tanglewood Tales’ (1853) practically unlocked for children the rich granaries of Greek mythology, to the infinite delight of generations of eager readers. This gave such impetus to imaginative writing for children that the wonderful flowering of children's literature in the latter half of the century may well be attributed very largely to the classic influence we are here considering. Then it was that the reading child first came into full possession of his literary heritage, the accumulated treasures of imaginative Man.
Classification. — From the early times when children's books were yet non-existent — when children and adults heard the same tales with a common naïveté — to the present fine specialization in books intended for the young, millions of volumes have been published under the general head of Juvenile Literature. With this multiplicity has come also great diversity, so that it is no mean task merely to classify satisfactorily this wealth of material. The task becomes the more difficult in that there are no definite types of children's literature more than of any other, and this, naturally, makes for greater variety. For these and other reasons no adequate classification of children's books will here be attempted. Only a few of the more common types can be considered, and under these general headings: (1) Fairy Tales, Myths and Fables; (2) Historical Biographical and Other Narratives; (3) Children's Poetry; and (4) Juvenile Fiction. Nor can the treatment even of these be more than summary in the present article. For a fuller study of the subject, the reader is referred to the bibliography appended to this article.
Fairy Tales, Myths and Fables. — Despite the great variety of other books for children that have grown, like mushrooms, since Perrault's pioneer collection of ‘Mother Goose Tales’ (‘Contes de ma Mère L'Oye,’ 1697), nothing has displaced the fairy tale in favor with younger children. After Perrault, the greatest contributions to fairy tale literature were made by the Grimm Brothers with their ‘Household Tales’ (‘Kinder- und Hausmärchen,’ 1812-15) and by their most distinguished successor, Hans Christian Andersen, with his ‘Fairy Tales’ (1835), best translated into English by Mary Howitt. Among other literary fairy tale collections, to the making of which there is no end, mention should be made of Kennedy's ‘New World Fairy Book’; Rhys's ‘Fairy Gold’; Scudder's ‘Children's Book’; Jacobs' ‘English Fairy Tales’ and its companion volume, ‘More English Fairy Tales’; and Lang's long Rainbow Series. More in the nature of wonder stories are the Alice books of Lewis Carroll, Ruskin's ‘King of the Golden River,’ Kingsley's ‘Water Babies,’ and ‘The Arabian Nights.’ The charming fairy tales of George Macdonald have such a unique spiritual quality and a distinctive tone of mystery that they may be considered among the best modern specimens of their kind. As a general rule, however, the modern fairy story, cultivated hy many mediocre writers, is apt to be lacking in imagination, art and taste.
Mythological tales, which are based upon primitive man's interpretation of nature, run back naturally to the beginning of time. The best, myths have come down to us from ancient Greece, and we have already mentioned the three great writers — Kingsley, Lamb and Hawthorne — who first familiarized English-reading children with these most delightful narratives, so full of beautiful imagery and true poetic force. Of the many other versions of the classic myths of Greece, Bulfinch's ‘Age of Fable’ and Moncrieff's ‘Classic Myth and Legend’ are perhaps the fullest and best. Next to the Greek myths, the Old Norse myths are particularly interesting to children. They have been admirably retold by Brown (‘In the Days of Giants’) and Mabie (‘Norse Stories Retold from the Eddas’). The mythology of the American Indian, equally full of color, mystery and elemental nature, has been strangely neglected by modern writers of children's books. Longfellow's ‘Hiawatha’ is still the most beautiful presentation of Red Indian myths. There are, of course, many other kinds of mythical tales, but the three here mentioned possess the best characteristics for juvenile readers.
The fable (q.v.), which is probably of Indian origin and was one of the earliest forms of story-telling everywhere, has been made familiar to children only in modern times. The classic fable of Æsop has never yet been surpassed, if it ever shall be equalled. This form of imaginative literature makes its peculiar appeal to younger children and performs a special mission in their ethical education. Some of the best of Æsop's fables — edited times without number — are ‘The Dog in the Manger,’ ‘The Lion and the Mouse,’ ‘Belling the Cat,’ ‘The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf’ and ‘The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.’ The other two great fabulists were La Fontaine in France and Krylov in Russia, but neither has enjoyed such universal popularity abroad. ‘Select Fables from La Fontaine,’ translated by Elizier Wright, and ‘Kriloff's Original Fables,’ translated by Harrison, are perhaps the best two selections from these fabulists available in English. A general collection from Æsop, La Fontaine and others is found in Wiggin's and Smith's ‘The Talking Beasts; A Book of Fable Wisdom.’ Excellent recent specimens of animal stories that may be classed either as fables or as fairy tales are Kipling's Jungle books and ‘Just So Stories.’ In a class by itself stands that highly literary and charmingly imaginative modern fairy tale, Lagerlöf's ‘Wonderful Adventures of Nils.’
Historical, Biographical and Other Narratives. — For children who have outgrown the world of make-believe these classes of books afford most welcome substitutes. The best kind of historical narrative for children is that which emphasizes the romantic and biographical elements. Such narratives have been written by Scott (‘Tales of a Grandfather’), Greenwood (‘Merry England’), Lodge and Roosevelt (‘Hero Tales from American History’), Eggleston (‘Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans’), Baldwin (‘Fifty Famous Stories Retold’) and many others.
From history stories to historical biography is a natural transition. This type of biography has been written for children since the middle of the 19th century, when the Abbotts, authors of hundreds of juveniles, popularized it. More recent examples — and naturally better ones — are Tappan's lives of Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. Two excellent and very comprehensive sets of historical biographies (one in 36 volumes) are ‘Life Stories for Young People’ and the ‘Children's Heroes Series,’ the former translated from the German by G. P. Upton. Mention should here be made, too, of Marshall's ‘Child's English Literature’ for the abundant biographical material this well-written work contains.
Besides such special biographies, there are scores of others mat are not necessarily historical or romantic. Good examples of such biographies suited to young readers are the ‘Life, Letters, and Journals of Louisa Alcott’ and Richard's ‘Florence Nightingfale.’ Two excellent collected biographies are Mrs. Lang's ‘Red Book of Heroes’ and Mrs. Wade's ‘Wonder Workers,’ the latter dealing with eminent contemporaries.
Other kinds of instructive narratives that children like to read include every conceivable subject — from books of travel and geographical descriptions to animal stories and nature study excursions. Naturally, these cannot be enumerated here. A few good specimens of the types mentioned must suffice. Thus, ‘Peeps at Many Lands,’ ‘Little People Everywhere,’ ‘Peeps at Great Cities’ and ‘The Little Cousin Series’ — the last consisting of 40 volumes by various authors — are admirable travel books; such works as Burroughs' ‘Birds and Bees’ and ‘Squirrels and Other Fur-Bearers,’ Roberts' ‘Kindred of the Wild’ and ‘Haunters of the Silences’ — rather than the more romantic Seton stories (‘Lives of the Hunted,’ ‘Wild Animals I Have Known,’ etc.) — represent the best type of animal story; while Ball's ‘Starland,’ Morley's ‘Insect Stories,’ Thompson's ‘Water Wonders Every Child Should Know,’ Andrews' ‘Stories Mother Nature Told Her Children’ and Buckley's ‘Fairyland of Science’ — every one combining science and narrative in happy proportions — will serve to indicate the diversity of nature-study narratives, the best of which are as fascinating as fairy tales.
Children's Poetry. — It is common knowledge that a child's first appreciation of verse depends largely on rhythmic quality — hence his great fondness for the old Mother Goose rhymes, those matchless specimens of perfect rhythm. For the same reason children of fairy tale age readily catch the swing of ballads, which they greatly enjoy even when the meaning of these vigorous poems happens to transcend their understanding. Among the best old ballads are ‘Adam Bel,’ ‘Chevy Chase,’ ‘Sir Andrew Barton,’ ‘The Battle of Otterburn,’ ‘Fair Rosamond,’ ‘Sir Cauline,’ ‘The Heir of Linne,’ ‘The Blind Beggar's Daughter,’ ‘Clym of the Clough and Wyllyam of Ooudeslee,’ and the cycle of Robin Hood poems. Good collections of such ballads are available in Bates' ‘Ballad Book,’ Mabie's ‘Book of Old English Ballads’ and Lanier's ‘The Boy's Percy.’ A special collection of the Robin Hood series has been made by Perkins (‘Robin Hood’). The great popularity of these old ballads does not suffer even when their tales are retold in prose, which has been done repeatedly — best perhaps by Pyle (‘Merry Adventures of Robin Hood’) and Tappan (‘Old Ballads in Prose’). For older children there are, in addition, the more modern ballads of Scott, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Browning, Tennyson and others, which are well represented in Palgrave's ‘Golden Treasury,’ ‘The Oxford Book of English Verse’ and almost any comprehensive collection of children's poetry.
Didactic narrative poetry for children has been well written by the Taylor sisters, whose ‘Original Poems for Infant Minds’ has already been characterized; the Lambs, authors of those charming ‘Tales from Shakespeare’ and other excellent Juveniles; the Carys, authors of the delightful ‘Ballads for Little Folk’; Dr. Hoffmann, author of the ever popular ‘Slovenly Peter’; and many others. Lyric verse for young readers is equally abundant. William Blake, already mentioned for his beautiful ‘Songs of Innocence,’ and William Allingham, author of many natural and graceful lyrics, seem to have perfected this type of poem. Other children's poets of the earlier period are Christina Rosetti, referred to elsewhere, Mary Howitt, Celia Thaxter and Lucy Larcom (most of them represented in Whittier's excellent anthology, ‘Child Life’). The children's verses of Robert Louis Stevenson, whose ‘Child's Garden of Verses’ has never yet been excelled, of Eugene Field and of James Whitcomb Riley — not to mention their numerous imitators — are distinctly reminiscent of childhood at play; their appeal is therefore quite as much to adults as to children. Romantic poetry, which appeals to children in adolescent years, has been written by Scott, Longfellow, Tennyson and all the other great poets. Much of it can be appreciated in later childhood. When the child's taste for poetry has grown to the appreciation of the best romantic poets, he no longer needs any special children's poetry. For anthologies of children's verse, the reader must be referred to the works cited in the bibliography.
Juvenile Fiction. — From Goldsmith's ‘Margery Two-Shoes,’ Day's ‘Sandford and Merton,’ and ‘The Moral Tales’ of Mrs. Edgeworth to such modern children's stories as ‘Heidi,’ ‘Peggy’ and ‘Nancy Rutledge’ — is a far cry indeed. Yet, everything in narrative form that marked this long evolution comes somewhere under the general head of juvenile fiction. Naturally there are many different types of children's stories — some writers enumerate no fewer than a dozen. For our present purpose, however, two broad classes will suffice: (1) Stories of Adventure, and (2) Stories of Character. But even so, it cannot always be determined accurately to which class a children's story really belongs, the two general types not being mutually exclusive — a good story of adventure may abound in delineation of character, and effective character stories are not necessarily devoid of thrilling narrative. The determining consideration will be simply the predominance of either of these elements in stories possessing both.
That the child's earliest interest is in the adventure story, the story concerned with events rather than with character, is shown by the undying popularity of the fairytale and wonder story as nursery literature. This interest naturally carries over into animal stories of the non-fable type, stories of travel and romantic tales of every kind. Perhaps the best romantic story for children who have just emerged from the cycles of Arthurian, Carolingian and other legend — those fascinating adventure stories that no reading boy or girl should miss — is the historical novel, in which the heroic side receives special emphasis. Famous novels of this kind suitable for young people include Scott's ‘Ivanhoe’ and ‘The Talisman,’ Dickens's ‘Tale of Two Cities,’ Kingsley's ‘Westward Ho!’ and Bulwer-Lytton's ‘The Last Days of Pompeii.’
A very different kind of romantic story, one that may be styled unhistorical, originated in this country with Cooper's tales of Indian life and adventures on the sea. In his ‘Leatherstocking Tales’ to ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ and ‘The Two Admirals’ there is not a narrative that any normal boy — and Cooper is decidedly a boy's author — willingly skips, any more than he can abstain from devouring the tales of mystery by Jules Verne. The genre of romance originated by Cooper has been done by Captain Marryat, Mayne Reid, Ballantyne and many others, whose thrilling tales of adventure on land and sea continue to enchant boys to this day.
Differing more in degree perhaps than in kind are such children's classics of adventure as ‘Treasure Island,’ ‘The Three Musketeers,’ ‘Mysterious Island,’ ‘The Slowcoach,’ ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ ‘Kidnapped,’ ‘Captains Courageous’ and ‘Adventures of Billy Topsail.’
The juvenile character story may deal with school-life, the home and many other things. The forerunners of the modern school story, a very prolific brand of juvenile fiction, were Harriet Martineau's ‘Crofton Boys’ and ‘Tom Brown at Rugby.’ Unfortunately these masterpieces have not been often duplicated in recent times, when the average school story is apt to be devoid of characterization and interest. Among the best modern school stories are Vachell's ‘The Hill,’ Coolidge's ‘What Katy Did at School,’ Brown's ‘The Four Gordons,’ Richards' ‘Peggy,’ and, especially, the works of Arthur Stanwood Pier, who has written some of the best books of this kind.
The home story, a type as ill-defined as any other kind of children's story, includes such excellent things as Alcott's ‘Little Women,’ ‘Little Men’ and ‘Under the Lilacs’; Richards' ‘Hildegarde Series’; Pyle's ‘Nancy Rutledge’; Ewing's ‘Jackanapes,’ ‘Lob Lie-by-the-Fire’ and ‘Six to Sixteen’; Yonge's ‘The Lances of Lynwood’; Martin's ‘Emmy Lou’; and Howell's ‘A Boy's Town’ — to cite but a few of the thousand-and-one stories coming under the present classification.
Finally, there are numerous other varieties of juvenile fiction which are represented by such diverse genuine classics as ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,’ ‘The Prince and the Pauper,’ ‘The Story of a Bad Boy,’ ‘Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch,’ ‘Jim Davis’ and ‘Betty Leicester.’ These few titles of modern children's books indicate the great advance made in juvenile literature since the days of the Edgeworths, Thomas Day and the other early writers of so-called children's stories. With all that, however, and despite the fact that streams of juveniles are continually pouring from publishers' presses, there is still a woeful dearth of unexceptionable juvenile fiction, especially of realistic stories.
Bibliography. — Most of the literature on children's books has appeared in the form of magazine articles, many of them in library journals. Moses, in ‘Children's Books and Reading’ (pp. 269-72) gives a fairly comprehensive list of such periodical literature up to 1907. Later references will be found in Fay and Eaton's work cited below. The more important books on the subject in English include Ashton, J., ‘Chap-Books of the Eighteenth Century’ (London 1882); Fay and Eaton, ‘Instruction in the Use of Books and Libraries’ (Boston 1915, chaps. XIII-XXI); Field. E. M., ‘The Child and his Book’ (London 1891); Field, W. T., ‘Fingerprints to Children's Reading’ (Chicago 1907); Ford, P. L., ‘History of the New England Primer’ (New York 1897); Lee, G. S., ‘The Child and the Book’ (ib. 1907); Lowe, O., ‘Literature for Children’ (ib. 1914); Lucas, E. V., ‘Old-fashioned Tales and Forgotten Tales of Long Ago’ (London 1905); Moses, M. J., ‘Children's Books and Reading’ (ib. 1907); Olcott F. J., ‘The Children's Reading’ (Boston and New York 1912); Pearson, E., ‘Banbury Chap-books and Toy Book Literature in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’ (London 1890); Repplier, A., “The Children's Poets” (in her ‘Essays in Idleness,’ Boston 1893); Grahame, Kenneth, ‘The Cambridge Book of Poetry for Children’ (New York 1916). Two excellent works in German are Koster's ‘Geschichte der deutschen Jugendlitteratur’ (Hamburg 1906) and Wolgast's ‘Das Elend unserer Jugendlitteratur’ (Leipzig 1905). Judicious lists of children's books are published by most public libraries. A very helpful and comprehensive one has been compiled by G. W. Arnold, ‘A Mother's List of Books for Children’ (Chicago 1909).