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Critical Children’s Literature Studies

Children’s literature and its criticism are ultimately about finding the right or good books for children. This has been the case since the field was invented in the 18th century as part of the discovery or invention of the child as a category of identity allied to Romantic ideas of the originary, primitive, curious, and wondering and the development of greater access to literacy, schooling, and, eventually, leisure time. However, this definition of children’s literature (criticism) is itself contentious because for most children’s literature authors, publishers, and critics—and the parents, carers, librarians, and teachers who also engage in the production of or discussions around children’s literature—there is no question that children are known and knowable beings, with specific psychological and biological traits.

Children’s literature studies refer ...

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