Poetry in children's literature: development of a genre
This literature survey traces the development of poetry for children, primarily in the United States and Great Britain. Poetry published for children is rooted in oral literature, such as lullabies, ballads, and nursery rhymes. Early poetry printed specifically for children was most often instructional, morally edifying, and rhymed in order to aid in memorization. As Puritanism waned and new ideas about childhood and education emerged, poets began writing not only to instruct children, but also to tell a story and entertain. The acceptance of fantasy in the 19th century paved the way for a blossoming of poetry for children in the 20th century, encompassing elements of storytelling, fantasy, humor, light verse, multiculturalism, and social change. Ongoing advances in printing technology also affected developments in illustration. More recent trends include an increasingly visual approach to poetry in children's picture books; novels in verse; a revival of young adult interest and participation in poetry; and the innovative use of electronic formats, sometimes in ways that reconnect poetry with its oral roots. Poetry for children continues to flourish and evolve because of the capacity for perception and imagination shared by children and poets.
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