Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children's Literature in America

Kiddie Lit The Cultural Construction of Children s Literature in America The popularity of the Harry Potter books among adults and the critical acclaim these young adult fantasies have received may seem like a novel literary phenomenon In the nineteenth century however r

  • Title: Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children's Literature in America
  • Author: Beverly Lyon Clark
  • ISBN: 9780801881701
  • Page: 163
  • Format: Paperback
  • The popularity of the Harry Potter books among adults and the critical acclaim these young adult fantasies have received may seem like a novel literary phenomenon In the nineteenth century, however, readers considered both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as works of literature equally for children and adults only later was the former relegated to the category of boys bThe popularity of the Harry Potter books among adults and the critical acclaim these young adult fantasies have received may seem like a novel literary phenomenon In the nineteenth century, however, readers considered both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as works of literature equally for children and adults only later was the former relegated to the category of boys books while the latter, even as it was canonized, came frequently to be regarded as unsuitable for young readers Adults women and men wept over Little Women And America s most prestigious literary journals regularly reviewed books written for both children and their parents This egalitarian approach to children s literature changed with the emergence of literary studies as a scholarly discipline at the turn of the twentieth century Academics considered children s books an inferior literature and beneath serious consideration.In Kiddie Lit, Beverly Lyon Clark explores the marginalization of children s literature in America and its recent possible reintegration both within the academy and by the mainstream critical establishment Tracing the reception of works by Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Lewis Carroll, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L Frank Baum, Walt Disney, and J K Rowling, Clark reveals fundamental shifts in the assessment of the literary worth of books beloved by both children and adults, whether written for boys or girls While uncovering the institutional underpinnings of this transition, Clark also attributes it to changing American attitudes toward childhood itself, a cultural resistance to the intrinsic value of childhood expressed through sentimentality, condescension, and moralizing.Clark s engaging and enlightening study of the critical disregard for children s books since the end of the nineteenth century which draws on recent scholarship in gender, cultural, and literary studies offers provocative new insights into the history of both children s literature and American literature in general, and forcefully argues that the books our children read and love demand greater respect.

    One thought on “Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children's Literature in America”

    1. so i assume this is someones published dissertation or something. i didnt expect it to be riveting, but i did sort of expect a cohesive argument. to distill it to one thought: childrens books are not as well respected as this lady would like them to be. done. i just saved y'all a bunch of reading time. the best thing about this book were some nice quotes: from ray bradbury: "baum was, at heart, a little-old-maid librarian crammed with honey-muffins and warm tea. lewis carroll sipped his tea cold [...]

    2. I don't know much about kids, but I'm positive that most kids don't give a flying fuck if Harold Bloom cares about the books they are reading, or if he says that their favorite novel is not considered a classic. To be fair to Bloom, kids also don't care what Derrida, Jameson, Fyre, Edmund Wilson, Eagleton, Walter Benjamin, Henry James or any other theorist thinks about their reading tastes. If you don't believe me go up to some Twilight fan and tell them that if Derrida were still alive he would [...]

    3. This read pretty much like a dissertation. Certainly well researched, but also quite dull, and obsessively focused on some few particular works of children's literature. Readers could probably get away with reading the last 4 pages and get the general gist of the entire book: critics don't appreciate children's literature and that's a shame. I feel I could've gotten the same point from a journal article. I wish Lyon Clark had infused more feeling or personal opinion into this. It wasn't always e [...]

    4. A stirring, polemical defense of the study of childhood and children's literature. Her pressing need to thoroughly support herself with statistical data (library circulation numbers, book reviews, "best of" lists, etc.) makes the book authoritative and yet a bit repetitive, and sometimes I found myself wanting to refute everything she was arguing with a simple subjective retort (i.e "Come on, though! Little Lord Fauntleroy isn't actually that good a book!"), but overall this book is fascinating, [...]

    5. From the onset of _Kiddie Lit_, I was eager to read about Clark's take on children's literature, as well as her attempt to answer the questions she raises, including: “How have Americans responded to children’s literature during the last century and a half?” and “How have we constructed childhood?” (168). However, the bulk of her chapters are repetitive in discussing reviews, toy lines, and library circulation numbers. She picks great canonical works, including _Tom Sawyer_, _Little Wo [...]

    6. Clark both argues for and provides a history of critical work on children's literature by the gatekeepers of literary criticism in America, whether the journals of the nineteenth century genteel intelligentsia or those of the academy in the twentieth century. Amidst a sometimes boring wash of statistics used to chart the course of interest--from children, adults and critics--in children's literature, Clark manages to make a number of astute observations on the intersections of age with class and [...]

    7. though pretty dense in places, this book had some interesting ideas about the reception of children's literature in america from the 19th century to current day. clark discusses burnett, twain, aclott, baum, lewis, rowling, and disney and what reactions from critics over time say about the construction of american childhood. there are some very interesting ideas and tidbits here, but certainly not a quick and pithy read. not for the faint of heart.

    8. This is one of the most thoroughly-researched histories I've ever read. Simply incredible. There is a pattern to the book, which drives its thesis; my only criticism is that Clark makes a claim in the final chapter that she never actually does in the novel.

    9. This was awful. Seemed more like someone's thesis. It didn't teach me anything about evaluating children's literature. It just listed people's complaints about books. The last chapter on Disney spoke of the movies. Not the literature they're based on.

    10. A well researched analysis of the different ways "kiddie lit" is perceived---and often brushed off---by adults in America. An interesting premise with a dry approach. I'll stick with Nancie Atwell, thank you.

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