By: Rachel Lyle, July 21st, 2017

This past fall I finished the Career Exploration Experience that I started this past summer. I finished it to get my third and final credit for my experiential learning program at Delaware Valley University. I did this last credit in the form of student research on the history of children’s literature and famous children’s authors and illustrators. This research was done under the supervision of Peter Kupersmith, the head librarian at the DelVal library. When I was finished I wrote a short research essay on what I learned to hand into him so he could see what I was doing the whole semester. Here is the essay I wrote:

I learned in my research that Children’s literature was originally written to teach lessons to children because they were originally seen as mini adults. They were forced to learn bible verses and alphabets based on lessons such as be good children, say your prayers, listen to and obey your parents, etc. This literature started in places like ancient Egypt and such like the story’s of Aesop’s fables. Children would be made to learn the lord’s prayer in order to learn to read. Chapbooks, pocket-sized books often folded rather than stitched together, were the first books to be illustrated for children. They usually contained simple woodcut pictures to go along with their contents–often popular ballads, folk tales, or religious passages. These books told stories to teach children rather than entertain them. The trend of illustrating children’s books prevailed, and children’s literature grew in popularity throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 1744, John Newbery published A Little Pretty Pocket-Book. The volume was heralded as the true first book intended for children’s pleasure reading. As paper and printing became more economical, the children’s book industry veritably boomed during the 1800s. It wasn’t until the 1900s that childhood was considered a life event and children were no longer treated as mini adults. It was in the 1920’s that books could be mass produced in color and literacy became sufficiently widespread to make children’s picture books a true industry unto its own. Wanda Gag’s Millions of Cats (1928) was one of the most successful of this era, selling more than a million copies. Other classic children’s picture books were published soon after: The Little Engine that Could (1930); Babar (1931); Madeline (1933); and Curious George (1941). These books and those by author’s and illustrator’s such as A. A. Milne, Doctor Seuss, Beatrix Potter, and many others are still popular today because when children grow up reading them they create wonderful childhood memories for them as adults and so they pass them onto their children and grand children so that they can help their children create memories with their children through these books and in turn their children do the same and this continues on for endless generations.

There are many different things that influence children to read. One thing that makes them want to read is the fact that many librarians have relationships with the children that come to their libraries as well as their parents and they recommend books to the children and parents to read together. Another thing is their parents might have grown up reading so they read to their children and cultivate a love of reading in their children. Another thing that influences them is the fact that people tell them reading is fun or they see other people reading and enjoying it and in turn they want to read and this causes a love of reading in them. There are also many books based on movies and TV shows that children want to read because they enjoyed the movie or TV show so they want to read the books because they think they will enjoy them as well.