Well, let me see. What do I think?
Having read a few articles over the last week there seems to be a vague consensus on what constitutes literature for children or children’s literature. (You see how I phrased that before – even that is contentious you know!)
Here’s how I see it:
- Children’s literature in the modern age is literature written with an idea that a child might read it – perhaps not the sole audience but as the main audience.
- Reflects their lives, outlook, perspective and view of the world in all its nascent, evolving and naive glory.
- Enhances their understanding of their world by providing new perspectives, view, information, description, vocabulary, expression – it is as Cairney (1994) states “Transformative” in some way.
- Enjoyable – it is literature that is enjoyed by children – this might conflict with the first point in this list – some literature specifically written for children is despised by that particular group, similarly children do sometimes have a predilection for pushing the boundaries and searching willfully for literature that is not particularly aimed at them but then absorbed and adopted thus.
- High literacy standard (well it should have) – but again let’s be frank the number of children who ‘inhaled’ the ‘Twilight’ series proves that sometimes the enjoyment factor and the quality factor can be mutually exclusive – but I would still put Twilight as children’s or tween literature.
- Accessible – these days it should and is available in different forms – digital, audio etc but also in the use of language and syntax.
- Meaningful – it should somehow be meaningful to the reader. Even Twilight gave meaning to some!
- Learning – it provides some form of learning – either of the human condition, information or provides and understanding of another view point, way of life or experience.
There – I am not sure if these ideas are correct but if I could write a book or text for children and I managed 50% of that list I would be pretty pleased with myself. I think of all the children’s literature that I have read as an adult and it all fits into those categories (and more).
It is a difficult thing to pin down – we are all so heavily invested in children’s literature as educators it is hard to objectively see that criteria that would exclude some texts.
Thank you and goodnight.