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Children and Literature in Medieval England

Children's BookChildren’s literature, both fiction and non-fiction, is a thriving modern industry with its own investors, producers, and consumers. It has classic writers going back to the mid-nineteenth century, and can be traced beyond them to the chapbooks of Hanoverian and Stuart times. How much earlier can its history be followed? Certainly well before 1500. Sources dwindle as one recedes in time, but children and adolescents can be identified as reading a substantial body of literature, both instructive and recreational, by the fifteenth century, and glimpses of the subject may be gained even before that time. One of the oldest references to a child reading English is to the young King Alfred in the mid-ninth century, and a Welsh poem in the form of a lullaby may have been composed in the sixth.(1) This and other evidence suggests that the association of young people with literature in Britain is virtually coeval with that of adults. It is less familiar to us primarily because of the absence or unobtrusiveness of records about it.

 

Source: http://www.medievalists.net/2014/01/10/children-and-literature-in-medieval-england