Children’s Books are a Handy Tool for Socialization

Children’s books are a remarkable site of play, entertainment, and development. Hancock theorizes children’s literature as ‘literature that appeals to the interests, needs, and reading preferences of children and captivates children as its major audience’ (5). Mostly children’s literature, not entirely, involves adults’ character; indeed, children’s literature portrays children as the way adults typically think of them. Besides, children’s literature hardly is written and illustrated by children. Adults’ idea of child/childhood is likely to produce children’s books. To this end, Joel Taxel asserts that ‘children’s literature like other cultural artifacts is a product of convention that is rooted in, if not determined by, the dominant belief systems and ideologies of the times in which it is created. In order to clarify Taxel’s claims, Jack Zipes offers the radical elements that might have been in children’s books that undermined the hegemonic social code of the civilizing process.

As theorist has shown children’s literature is used as a field of moral development and delights. Clearly, the objective of children’s literature is not absolutely stable. No doubt, children’s literature embodies three objectives. This objective may be regarded as didactic; it may be viewed as both private delight and didactic, or it may be interpreted commercially.

Over the centuries, obviously, a substantial body of study has accumulated seeking to question what exactly children’s literature objectives are, and in particular no certain investigation in the study of the commercial objective of children’s literature hasdone yet. Indeed, children’s literature mostly is defined as the site of delight or instruction. This is essential and perplexed by the fact that adults have prominent roles in deciding the books for children. Therefore, children are supposed to be a passive audience of the books created by adults. For Jackie C. Horne in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden: A Children’s Classic at 100 ‘history in terms of moral utility had played a primary role in children’s literature (18).

Moreover, the boundaries around the issue of children’s literature have mostly been in debate. These debates often sprung from different understandings of what children’s literature is and its differences. Further, whether or not the children’s literature could be seen as means to entertain, to instructor both? Thus, children’s literature objectives seem to be strictly interwoven. To Hunt, children’s books are a matter of private delight and means to transmit values and traditions design to instruct children how to become a full member of society. Hunt attempts to provide a useful illustration of such differences and changes. For John Stephens in Language and Ideology in Children’s Fiction ‘Writing for children is usually purposeful, its intention being to foster in the child reader a positive apperception of some socio-cultural values which, it is assumed, are shared by author and audience. These values include contemporary morality and ethics, a sense of what is valuable in the culture’s past (what a particular contemporary social formation regards as the culture’s centrally important traditions), and aspirations about the present and future’ (3).

However, it may seem literature for children is explicitly instructive; children’s books are handy instruments for their socialization at least since the early modern period. These are just some of the colorful reasons for using children’s literature. In particular, the objective of my considerations is to investigate the main objectives of children’s literature. However, the combination of these various concepts may demonstrate to be problematic. But, children’s literature illustrates the gap the genre makes, namely the gaps from the books to those meant to entertain or entertain and instruct. Zipes only briefly inclines on the problem produced by works for or about children being gathered together under one classification. Children’s literature has indeed created many of the patterns tied to children’s books today.

Despite all the definitions that might be made about children’s literature; yet, there are plenty of curious to be done in children’s literature. Undoubtedly, in part, children’s literature is not the ones that matter of private delight or didactic. In contrast, children’s literature is quite different; because adults make their purchases on the basis of their ideas about what the children they purchase for like to and need to read. Regarding Hunt’s point of view ‘Children’s literature is a term used to describe both a set of texts and an academic discipline_ and it is often regarded as an oxymoron.’ (42) For him, children’s literature is ‘blissfully free of the oughts’ (1); the problem of his definition occurs within the ignoring hidden adult’s hands in children’s literature. As a matter of fact, adults judge which books are good for children. Hunt excludes children’s literature from serious consideration; however, he knows ‘Children’s books are different from adults’ books: they are written for a different audience, with different skills, different needs, and different ways of reading; equally, children experience texts in ways which are often unknowable, but which many of us strongly suspect to be very rich and complex(3-4). This in itself draws our attention to children’s books that they are not exactly a matter of private delight. No doubt, children’s literature is hardly ever entertaining; it has been always suffused with a moral ideology.

Frederick Joseph Harvey Darton critic of children’s literature proposes that there were no children’s books in England prior to the seventeenth century; however, most writers limit children’s books to the published books that appeared after Johannes Gutenberg’s fifteenth-century printing machine invention. Under Darton’s definition,

Printed works produced ostensibly to give children spontaneous pleasure and not primarily to teach them, not solely to make them good, nor to keep them profitably quiet. I shall therefore exclude from this history, as a general rule, all schoolbooks, all purely moral or didactic treatises, all reflective or adult-minded descriptions of child-life, and almost all alphabets, primers, and spelling books; though some works in each category will be mentioned because they purposely gave much latitude to amusement, or because they contained elements which have passed into as less austere legacy (1).

Darton’s definition implies that in the realm of children’s literature those prior books written in order to children’s edification have no place. She almost exclusively puts delight before pedagogy; she stresses on modification of content over years. It means there was no children’s literature before the seventeenth century; he reverberates ‘children’s books did not stand out by themselves as a clear, but subordinate branch of English literature until the middle of the eighteenth century,'(51-52) which points to his hesitation to commercial appealing for market trading on minor literature and quick changes that had not been existed hitherto.

Rather, Karin Lesnik-Oberstein supports the point of view suggests that ‘the definition of children’s book is still variously based on publishers’ and editors’ decisions…’ (5) Seemingly, this is true to a degree, ‘the author is the key figure of the communicative process, not author, no book…. Though, in children’s literature the role of the author may be considered different from that in mainstream literature’, because of one thing, ‘due to didactic purpose of children’s literature, children’ fiction may be definition be viewed as more intentional than general’ (Nikolajeva 1), or may critics are more inclined to investigate the intention of children’s writers but children’s literature is expressly not concerned with major objects of investigation in children’s literature research: social context, the author intention, or the reader; but with their social-historical, biographical, psychoanalytical and other concerns ( Nikolajeva 5). From this point of view, ‘one of the essential characteristic of children’s literature is the cognitive gap between the adult writer and the child reader’ (Sue Walsh 93).

However, Zipes argues that the concept of children’s literature has changed recently, ‘the book for children in today’s highly commercialized and computerized world of learning has an entirely different function from only a few decades ago (47). He maintains that ‘ In the case of children’s literature, this trend would seem likely to have become dominant for the majority of buyers. If so, children’s literature would surely become irrelevant or entirely commercialized'(48). Likewise, Peter N. Stearns in his book Childhood in World History asserts that ‘the basic purpose of childhood was redefined'(6). Childhood, he explains, ‘depends first and foremost on economic systems – and this is still true today (131). While, Hunt declares that children’s literature are overtly important educationally and commercially—with consequences across the culture, from language to politics: most adults, and almost certainly the vast majority in positions of power and influence, read children’s books as children, and it is inconceivable that the ideologies permeating those books had no influence on their development (1). At the same time, the assumption of commercials is ‘the obvious fact that children’s literature does not exist in a vacuum’ (Hunt 2). Indeed, children’s literature demonstrates commercial ambiguity and invalidates the other objectives that have been already discussed.

The neglect of commercial objectives, of course, stems from our understanding of the discipline of children’s literature. The history of children’s literature, historically, as Jerry Griswold urges all children’s literature is deeply enmeshed in the market. However, children’s literature came to be seen as an appropriate site of commercial objectives. To this end, this section presents a brief overview of literature addressing children’s literature objectives with a view to identifying the contributions up to now in this area and the accompanying gaps, omissions according to research perspectives.

There has been a growing recognition in the literature, that children are not only able to receive instruction, but at a certain age, are able to analyze it critically, to discern the books’ agenda, and also to interact with them both as the writer intended, and indeed in their own manner. The cognitive effects of didactic and delight objectives on children’s literature embrace the level of attention given to commercial objectives. The influence that commercial objectives may apply on children’s literature has been examined in terms of writer and publisher toward children’s literature. Furthermore, the literature has considered whether commercial objectives towards producing books affect their attitudes towards children’s literature.

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Children's books are a handy tool for socialization. (2021, Oct 10). Retrieved October 27, 2021 , from
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