CHILDREN'S LITERATURE. Books written for or suited to the young. From a stricter point of view, children's literature com prises books specially written for children. In either case, books about childhood intended for adult readers are excluded and will not be considered in this survey. But it is really im possible to define children's books without instancing titles of children's favorites. Such a list would show, for one thing, that quite as many works not written for children have found favor with them as those that were. Thus, parts of The Bible,' Homer's 'Odys sey,' 'The Pilgrim's Progress,' 'The Arabian Nights,' 'Gulliver's Travels,' and 'Baron of them intended for children — are just as much children's books as 'Alice in Wonderland,' Andersen's 'Fairy Tales,' 'The Water Babies,' and 'Peter — which were expressly written for juvenile readers. That the former should be much relished by children and the latter also by adults, proves conclusively the impossibility of drawing a hard-and-fast line between juvenile literature and other kinds of books. Any book that interests or comes within the comprehen sion of children generally may therefore be considered as belonging to the large and mis cellaneous class of children's books.
difficulty of formulating a satisfactory definition of children's books adds to the perplexities of the historian of juvenile literature and helps to account for the woeful want of chronological definiteness in many histories of children's literature. Thus, while some of these date the beginning of children's books from 1715— that is, from the appearance of Isaac Watts's 'Divine and Moral Songs' others go back as far as the 7th century— to a Latin work by one Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury, and to the school texts of the Venerable Bede. For our purposes this sketch need not extend beyond the 15th century, be fore which children's books can hardly be said to have existed. What are now considered such by some imaginative historians were mainly lesson texts, written in Latin and in tended generally for pupils in monastic schools. Such works belong rather to the history of education. than to the history of children's
literature. Passing by therefore the pseudo juveniles of Aldhelm, Bede, Alcuin and even Aelfric, whose
During the 15th cen tury real attempts at the writing of children's books were made by various authors, whose chief purpose was moral or other instruction. This appears in their very titles:
Babees Boke; or, A lytyl Reporte of how Young Peo ple should behave' (circ. 1475);
Boke of Curtesye) (1460); Simon's (Lesson of Wyse dom for all Manner Chyldryn); and the like. All these were written in Latin one of them,
The next stage in the development of chil dren's reading was reached toward the end of the 16th century, with the invention of The Hornbook (q.v.), which for the first time put reading matter into the hands of children. Such instruction as this crude device con tained was decidedly religious. A variation of the Hornbook, however, which appeared a cen tury later and was known as the