Childrens literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books and poems that are enjoyed by children. Modern childrens literature is classified in two different ways, genre or the age of the reader. Childrens literature can be traced to stories and songs, part of an oral tradition. The development of childrens literature, before printing was invented, is difficult to trace. Even after printing became widespread, many childrens tales were originally created for adults. Since the 15th century, a quantity of literature, often with a moral or religious message, has been aimed specifically at children. The late nineteenth and early centuries became known as the Golden Age of Childrens Literature as this period included the publication of many books acknowledged today as classics. There is no single or widely used definition of childrens literature and it can be broadly defined as anything that children read or more specifically defined as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or drama intended for and used by children and young people.
The International Companion Encyclopedia of Childrens Literature notes that the boundaries of genre. are not fixed but blurred, sometimes, no agreement can be reached about whether a given work is best categorized as literature for adults or children. Rowlings Harry Potter series was written and marketed for young adults, the series extreme popularity led The New York Times to create a separate best-seller list for childrens books. Despite the widespread association of childrens literature with picture books, spoken narratives existed before printing, seth Lerer, in the opening of Childrens Literature, A Readers History from Aesop to Harry Potter, This book presents a history of what children have heard and read. The history I write of is a history of reception, early childrens literature consisted of spoken stories and poems that were used to educate and entertain children. It was only in the 18th century, with the development of the concept of childhood, that a genre of childrens literature began to emerge, with its own divisions, expectations.
French historian Philippe Ariès argues in his 1962 book Centuries of Childhood that the concept of childhood only emerged in recent times. He explains that children were in the past not considered as different from adults and were not given significantly different treatment. Pre-modern childrens literature, tended to be of a didactic and moralistic nature, with the purpose of conveying conduct-related, during the 17th century, the concept of childhood began to emerge in Europe. Adults saw children as separate beings, innocent and in need of protection, the English philosopher John Locke developed his theory of the tabula rasa in his 1690 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. A corollary of this doctrine was that the mind of the child was born blank, and he suggested that picture books be created for children