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Children's Literature in a Pluralistic Society

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Children's Literature in a Pluralistic Society

Children's Literature in a Pluralistic Society One benefit to reading and listening to books is they can stretch the attention spans of children. Children’s literature has not always been so extensive and colorful as it is today. At the beginning children’s books read like instruction manuals rather than escapism or a fun educational tool. Even though Children's literature can misconstrue a Childs point of view, Children’s literature is needed to ensure a future because each milestone of children’s literature develops social functions within a pluralistic society. There are five specific key milestones/events/developments of children’s literature that includes social functions within the trends.
The books from this period were basically “Goodly Godly" books. They were focused on religion and how to obtain passage into heaven. These books did not have rhymes or pictures, but reinforced the way to the Lord and how to remain moral. Even though the books were the same type of books that are known today, they were written specifically for children and teaching. These are the some of the first type of children’s books. The books could be extreme in theme, for example James Janeway's A Token for Children: Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children (1672) The book consisted of multiple deathbed scenes of children who were weak but spiritually strong. Books did not remain overly religious and started appealing to parents who were attracted to economic advancement. With the rise of literacy Children’s books were marketed and geared towards children specifically, thus bringing stories about fairy and folk tales.
Picture Books Fairy and folklore were some of the first illustrated books. The Victorian Era is considered the golden age for picture books and produced many of the classics known and loved today. This era brought about books that were written specifically for boys or girls. Boys were given Huck Finn and Girls were given titles like Black Beauty. Boys were encouraged to go on adventures and Girls were expected to be morally correct. Animal stories bridged the gap of gender specific books. Rudyard Kipling’s, the Jungle Book is the best example. Picture books were the first wave of children’s books. Once the books were marketed specifically towards children other themes emerged. The themes allowed for escapism and a sense of confidence. Picture books gave way to Non Fiction, Fantasy, Poetry, Historical Fiction and Contemporary Realistic Fiction.
Multicultural Literature With the pathway set from picture books multicultural literature was now able to flourish. Publishers realized there was a need for books about different cultures and there were authors to be heard. These relationships were developed to provide access to a collection of stories to reflect different cultures, races, and ethnicities. This aids in a pluralistic society to become whole. The mainly “white” classics remain, but now there is a knowledge that there are more issues and cultures that needed a voice. As much as the Puritans, Picture Books and Multicultural literature provided society is now in a new age. An age of where all types of literature can be accessed at a moment’s notice, the Technological age.
Technological Age In the current age of immediate gratification, people want their literature to be the same. When new books are released, the majority of the books are downloaded. Printings of books are becoming obsolete. Schools depend less on books and they are no longer being issued to students. This age is also affecting the structure of books. Books have less emphasis on illustrations and are more focused on context. All of these trends are leading to a multi-literate society.
Newbery Award The Newbery Medal was founded in 1922 and was a product of Children’s Book week. The Newbery award is given to authors by a committee consisting of librarians. The main goal of the Newbery award was to encourage quality and creativity in children's books. They also wanted to recognize and praise children’s books.
Throughout the history of Children’s literature books have had many milestones that have lead to a pluralistic society. The Puritan’s, picture books, the technological age and the Newbery award have all aided society for the better. If children’s literature is ever lost society and the future it holds will be lost with it.

Appendix A: The History of Children’s Literature

1. Puritanism a) Believed that everyone was responsible for his or her own salvation b) Focused on spirituality c) Brought focus to the special needs of a child d) High value for reading, importance of the Bible e) Established Harvard College (1636) f) Encouraged literacy with the middle class g) Developed Horn Books, they looked like paddles
2. Picture Books a) Flourished during the nineteenth and early twentieth century b) New artists made it the golden age for picture books c) Need for escapism due to the war d) Books from this era: Curious George and Babar
3. John Newbery (1713–1778) pushed for children’s literature a) A Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) published by Newberry b) First series of books to entertain not to preach c) Paved the way for children’s literature to flourish d) Newberry Award created in 1922 for best children’s book published, given once a year by Liberians
4. Multicultural Literature a) Helps children relate to their diverse world b) Aids in a pluralistic society c) Authors and Publishers realized the need to explore different cultures, races and ethnicities.
5. Technological Age a) Current age of immediate gratification b) Books are now downloaded rather than purchased in a building c) More reading and accessible anywhere d) Schools are able to take advantage of the technological advances with books

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