Timeline of children’s literature

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The Iliad & The Odyssey -Homer Aesop’s Fables




Aeneid- Virgil

– Ovid


BCE 100


CE 100




Middle Ages

Biblical stories

Local legends


Beowulf (King Arthur probably also lived about this time)

Arthurian Romances popular

Tales of the Romans (moral fables)







1291 End of the Crusades

1455 printing press invented

1492 Columbus – America

1520 Beginning or Reformation



European Renaissance


1483 the fables of Aesop published (first popular illustrated book printed in England

1563 John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs


Puritanism (especially in America)

Horn Books

Chap books


1659 Orbis Pictus translated into English (Earliest children’s picture book)

1678 A Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan (UK)

1690-1886 The New England Primer (US)

1693 Thoughts Concerning Education – John Locke (tabula rasa – intellectual education)

Puritans placed a high value on education, especially for spiritual purposes.

1636 Puritans establish Harvard


1719 Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe (UK)

1726 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift (UK)

1729 Tales of Mother Goose – Charles Perrault (published in English)

1744 A Little Pretty Pocket Book John Newberry (UK) First book for enjoyment

1762 Emile – Joan Jacques Rousseau (moral education)

Rousseau – “Man is essentially good, but corrupted by society.”

Victorian Age

Comic strips

Dime novels

Children’s magazines

Youth’s companion


St. Nicholas (1873-1940)


1815 Grimm’s Fairy Tales – The Brothers Grimm (Germany)

1838 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (UK)

1848 Struwwelpeter – Heinrich Hoffmann (Germany)

1865 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (UK)

1868 Little Women – Louisa may Alcott (US)

1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain (US)

1877 Black Beauty – Anna Sewell (UK)

1881 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson (UK)

1883 The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi (Italy)

1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (US)

1885 A Children’s Garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson (UK)

1894 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling (UK)

Queen Victoria (1819-1901)

She reigned from 1837-1901)

Though not highly intelligent, she was of high moral character and extremely conscientious.



Stronger family units

Developing technology

Rise of the status of women

Widespread education

Growth of middle class

The 20th Century


1901 The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter (UK)

1904 Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie (UK)

1907 The Wonderful Adventures of Nils – Selma Lagerlof (Sweden)

1908 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (UK)

1908 Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montegomery (Canada)

1909 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum (US)

1911 The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgson Burnett (UK)

1919 First children’s division in a publishing company (Macmillan Company in the US)

Between the Wars


1920 The Story of Doctor Dolittle – Hugh Lofting (US)

1922 Newberry Medal established (Best children’s book in US)

1923 Bambi – Felix Salten (Germany)

1926 Winnie-the-Pooh A. A. Milne (UK)

1928 Millions of Cats – Wanda Gag (US)

1930 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome (UK)

1931 The Story of Babar; The Little Elephant – Jean de Brunhoff (France)

1932 Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder (US)

1934 Marry Poppins - P. L. Travers (UK)

1936 The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf (US)

1937 The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkein (UK)

1937 And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street – Dr. Seuss (US)

1937 Carnegie Medal established (Best children’s book published in UK)

1938 Caldecott Medal established (Best illustrated picture book in US)

1939 Madeleine – Ludwig Bemalmens (US)

1914-1918 WWI

Children are valued as consumers

Quality of children’s books become important. Establishment of prizes for excellence.

After WWII


1943 The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (France)

1945 Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lingren (Sweden)

1950 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis (UK)

1951 The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Sallinger (US)

1952 The Borrowers – Mary Norton (UK)

1952 Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White (US)

1965 The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander (UK)

1956 Kate Greenaway Medal (Best illustrated picture book in UK)

1964 Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh

1967 A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula Le Guin (US)

1975 Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbit (US)

1939-1945 WWII

1960’s New Realism – “too real for many adults”

1970’s multicultural content

visual literacy

2000 Child as global citizen

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