Fundamental Concepts of Children’s Literature Research

Literary and Sociological Approaches

By Hans-Heino Ewers

© 2009 – Routledge

196 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415896481
pub: 2012-03-02
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415800198
pub: 2009-04-01
US Dollars$150.00

About the Book

In this book, Ewers provides students and professors with a new system of categorization for a differentiated description of children’s literature. In the early 1970s, Swedish children’s literature scholar Göte Kingberg worked to establish a system of scientific terminology for international use, but these terms are now somewhat antiquated. This book offers a much-needed update, systematically analyzing the field and articulating its key definitions, terms, and concepts.

International in scope, this study touches on subjects including the distribution of primers and textbooks, the means by which children’s books are evaluated and classified, and the ways in which children’s literature can find an adult audience. Also discussed are the system of symbols, norms, concepts, and discourses that have evolved during the past two centuries, leading to an investigation of how authors and publishers have endeavored to make literature "appropriate" for children and of what it means to accommodate children’s needs, wishes, and values. Throughout, Ewers provides concrete examples and clear definitions of terms so that any scholar interested in children’s literature will find this book approachable, insightful, and one that crosses cultural boundaries.

Table of Contents

Series Editor’s Foreword


Part I: Literary Communication with Children and Young People

1. Children’s Literary Communication

2. Different Forms of Children’s Literary Messages

3. Children’s Literature as Literature for Mediators

4. Children’s Literature as Twofold Communication

5. Children’s Literature as Reading Material for Adults

Part II: Children’s Literary Distribution and Evaluation Systems

6. Children’s Literary Action Systems

7. The Market for Children’s Books and Media

8. Children’s Books and Media as an Action System in Public Libraries

9. "School Reading" as a Selection and Distribution System

10. The "children’s book" pedagogic action system

11. The "children’s public literary forum" Action System

12. Historical Change in Distribution and Evaluation Systems for Children’s Literature.

13. Children’s Literary Polysystems and their Providers

Part III: Semiotics of Children’s and Young Adult Literature

14. Children’s Literary Symbol Systems

15. Fundamental Children’s Literary Norms

16. Children’s Literary Concepts

17. Children’s Literary Discourse

Part IV: Children’s Literature as Literature Suitable for Children and Young People

18. Child Suitability: Accommodation and Assimilation

19. Forms of Child Suitability: Forms of Accommodation

20. Child Suitability as a Basis for Textual Analysis

21. External and Internal Suitability



About the Author

Ewers is Professor of German Literature with a focus on Children's Literature at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main and Director of the "Institut für Jugendbuchforschung" (Institute for Children's Literature Research).

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature