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History of Children's Literature - Oakland Campus: Home

This guide will assist students enrolled in Elizabeth Mahoney's LIS 2324 History of Children's Literature

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History of Children's Literature

This guide will assist you in researching topics related to the history of children's literature. Some date the beginnings of children's literature at 1744 with John Newbery's printing of A Little Pretty Pocket-book. This title is often identified as the first book written for the express purpose of entertaining children.

The depth and breadth of children's literature history can be extended if you consider books that were written for adults but "taken" by children. For example, these items were written for adults, but are now in the canon of children's literature; fables from Aesop and LaFontaine; fairy stories from Giovan Francesco Straparola, Giambattista Basile, Madame d'Aulnoy, Madame Le Prince de Beaumont, Charles Perrault; and story cycles such as the Indian Panchatantra, the Nordic saga of Sigurd the dragon-slayer, and the Arabic One thousand and one nights.

There are many ways to consider the history of children's literature. For example, you might examine:

  • the books written for children
  • the books written for adults but read by children
  • other items read by children such as magazines, dime novels, textbooks, and religious materials
  • genres in children's literature such as school stories, series books, adventure stories
  • people involved in book production such as authors, illustrators, or publishers
  • international children's literature such as the French conte de fée, the German märchen, the Swedish saga

One place to start is the Elizabeth Nesbitt Collection @ PITT research guide.   Have questions?  Not sure how to locate or access resources from Special Collections?  Please contact Clare Withers, the Children's Literature Librarian at Learn more about accessing non-circulating resources at Hillman Library's Special Collections.


Children's Literature Librarian

Clare Withers's picture
Clare Withers
G20 Hillman Library
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
412-648-7704 worksite
412 298-4037 cell

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