Is There a Clear Divide Between Books for Adults and Books for Children?

‘Is there a clear divide between books for adults and books for children? Discuss in relation to Block 1 materials, including the set book which you chose to read.’ 2000 words.

      The term ‘crossover fiction’ is used to explain the recent classification of books which have just as popular a following with adults as they do with children, the original audience the books were perhaps intended for. Examples of such crossover fiction includes the works of Philip Pullman in His Dark Materials trilogy, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time or the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - both of which have achieved cult status with adults and children alike. This provokes a discussion as to whether there are discernible differences between fiction for the two very different audiences, or whether there are some similarities which blur the distinction.Π
      Modern children’s literature is very different to the first notable texts given to children. Children’s literature started off simple and innocent, after a realisation in the seventeenth century that ‘the child was not ready for life, and that he had to be subjected to a special treatment, a sort of quarantine, before he was allowed to join the adults’ (Ariés, 1962, p.412, Centuries of Childhood). In the eighteenth century, chapbooks were made for children and were short, educational and sometimes humourous. The educational element of the books often instructed on how to be seen as a good child, and told stories of what children could achieve if they were well behaved. For instance, ‘Letter to Madam’ from A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1787) describes a woman who is ‘dutiful to her Parents and Governers’ who becomes rich. The story concludes with the moral ‘It is this learning, Madam, and good behaviour, that brings us the esteem of the whole world.’ Many chapbooks of this time included morals for children to take note of, so they were more instructional than merely for the children’s...