Children's Literature: A reader's history from Aesop to Harry Potter

Author(s): Seth Lerer


Ever since children have learned to read, there has been children's literature. Seth Lerer here charts the makings of the Western literary imagination from Aesop's fables to Mother Goose, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Peter Pan, from "Where the Wild Things Are" to "Harry Potter". The only single-volume work to capture the rich and diverse history of children's literature in its full panorama, this extraordinary book reveals why J. R. R. Tolkien, Dr. Seuss, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beatrix Potter, and many others, despite their divergent styles and subject matter, have all resonated with generations of readers. "Children's Literature" is an exhilarating quest across centuries, continents, and genres to discover how, and why, we first fall in love with the written word.


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"Lerer has accomplished something magical. Unlike the many handbooks to children's literature that synopsize, evaluate, or otherwise guide adults in the selection of materials for children, this work presents a true critical history of the genre.... Scholarly, erudite, and all but exhaustive, it is also entertaining and accessible. Lerer takes his subject seriously without making it dull." - Library Journal, starred review "Lerer's history reminds us of the wealth of literature written during the past 2,600 years.... With his vast and multidimensional knowledge of literature, he underscores the vital role it plays in forming a child's imagination. We are made, he suggests, by the books we read." - San Francisco Chronicle "There are dazzling chapters on John Locke and Empire, and nonsense, and Darwin, but Lerer's most interesting chapter focuses on girls' fiction.... A brilliant series of readings." - Diane Purkiss, Times Literary Supplement "Lerer's Olympian survey of more than 2,000 years leaves the reader with a stimulating vision of history.... His narrative swells and ebbs like a symphony.... To find Pilgrim's Progress and Weetzie Bat in a single volume is itself a pleasure." - Michael Sims, Washington Post Book World"

Seth Lerer is dean of arts and humanities at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of many books, including Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language, and the editor of several collections, including The Yale Companion to Chaucer.

General Fields

  • : 9780226473017
  • : 24015
  • : University of Chicago Press
  • : November 2009
  • : March 2009
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Seth Lerer
  • : Paperback
  • : 396