The second half of the twentieth century witnessed considerable changes in how the academic establishment regarded the study of children’s literature. From being an optional supplement on teacher training courses (on which, at the beginning of this period, students were not even awarded degrees), it had become, by the end of the century, a respectable academic discipline, attracting both undergraduates and a significant number of graduates studying for higher degrees. This process was inevitably accompanied by changes in the kinds of recommended critical and theoretical texts, shifting from handbooks on pedagogy to theoretical material comparable to that presented to students of adult literature. In the early part of the period, a dichotomy was sometimes claimed between ‘book’ people (literary scholars) and ‘child’ people (educationalists). However, since the 1980s, children’s literature studies have been dominated by what might be termed ‘theory’ people. This book traces these developments and points readers towards some of the most significant critical writing, especially that which scrutinises children’s texts from this period.
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