A Brief History of Children’s Literature


A Brief History of Children’s Literature

Natalie Bright

We are blogging about what we write this month on WordsmithSix. Some of the stories in my head are for children.

While cleaning out cabinets, I discovered an old textbook and since I also write for children, the history of Kid Lit was fascinating to me. “Tell me a story” is as old as time, and generations have passed down embellished family tales for centuries. I hope you find this interesting.

The Ancient World [ancient Rome; 50 BCE to 500 CE]

  • oral tale; composed not to be read but to be heard
  • children listened to poems of Homer, the Iliad, the Trojan War, the Odyssey
  • adults might be drawn by love story; children by adventure, monsters
  • Aesop’s Fables–animal tales with pointed morals

The Middle Ages [500 to 1500 CE]

  • Reading
    • fewer children could read; little written for them
    • childhood generally ignored and kept as short as possible
  • Fables and other tales
    • The Deeds of the Romans [late 13th C] collection of moral tales and fables; sources of plots for centuries]
    • animals’ stories have always been favorites of children
    • biblical stories; lives of saints; local legends
    • no distinction between fantasy and reality; storytellers freely mingled magic, enchantment, the ludicrous, and the serious
    • the literature was rich with childlike imagination, full of wonder, mystery, excitement

The European Renaissance [1500-1650 CE]

  • Instructional Books
    • children more literate
    • reading materials were instructional books (Books of Courtesy) and works written primarily for adults
    • still had Aesop’s Fables
    • by end of the 17th century social changes were well underway and there was a path cleared for a genuine literature for children.

The 17th Century

  • childhood began to take on new importance
  • adults began to recognize the special needs of childhood, including the need for childhood reading
  • two specific influences brought a heightened sense of special needs of the child
    • Religious: rise of Puritanism, that placed special emphasis on the individual’s need to tend to his or her own salvation
    • Intellectual: work of John Locke, the English philosopher who believed every child possessed the capacity for leaning and that it was the responsibility of adults to see to the proper education of children
  • Bunyan, Defoe, Swift
    • children continued to adopt certain adult works of literature–Pilgrim’s Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels

The 18th and Early 19th Centuries

  • John Newbery
    • Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) first significant publication for children
  • Rousseau and the Moral Tale
    • expressed his ideas about education in Emile (1762), emphasized the importance of moral development–through simple living
    • books taught children how to be good and proper human beings
    • children¹s writing was considered inferior to adult writing and therefore mostly composed by women
  • Rise of the Folktales
    • 1729–Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Parrault, retellings including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty
    • throughout the eighteenth century, more and more retellings appeared
    • beginning of 19th century–Grimm brothers
    • folktales were not considered expressly for children
    • some adults felt them unsuitable for children as they contained adult themes, alarming frankness and violence, lack of moral messages however children, nevertheless, continued to read and love the old tales

The Victorians: The Golden Age

  • during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) children’s literature first blossomed as first-rate authors and illustrators began to turn their talents to children and their books
  • Fantasies
    • 1865, Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson–math prof at Oxford) published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and began a new era in children¹s literature
    • first significant publication for children that abandoned all pretense of instruction and was offered purely for enjoyment
    • Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1863); MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (1872); Baum’s The Wizard of Oz (1900); Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908).
  • Adventure Stories (for boys)
    • especially popular Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883); Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1976) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
    • British children seemed to prefer stories set in faraway and unfamiliar places; Americans more attracted to adventure stories set in America and rags-to-riches stories
    • Dime Novels–sensational, lacking style and depth, cheap–were immensely popular
  • School Stories (for boys)
    • antics of boys at boarding schools: Tom Brown’s School Days (1857)
    • school stories (virtually always coming-of-age tales) occasionally appear in the 20th century, such as The Chocolate War
  • Domestic Stories (for girls)
    • tales of home and family life focusing on the activities of a virtuous heroine, usually coming from dire straits and achieving good fortune and ultimate happiness in the person of a handsome young man
    • Alcott’s Little Women (1868) and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908)
  • Children’s Book Illustration
    • books of 18th century and earlier either lacked illustrations altogether or contained crude woodblock illustration–serious artists did not draw for children’s books
    • At the end of the 19th century, changes in publishing and printing attracted great illustrators
    • by end of the 19th century, stunningly illustrated children’s books were available at reasonable prices
    • by 1st quarter of 20th century, libraries were designating children’s rooms–or at least children¹s shelves–children’s literature had at last come of age.

Twentieth Century: Widening Worlds

  • greater diversity in children’s books
  • picture books to poetry to fantasy to realistic fiction to informational books

BIO: Natalie Bright is the author of a middle grade series for kids, TROUBLE IN TEXAS: Book 1 Hangin’ Day; Book 2 The Great Train Caper; and coming soon Book 3 Murder in the Morning. She also writers true rescue horse stories for kids, easy readers for 3rd/4thgrade level: Flash: The Story of Meand TAZ & THE BIG FLAPPY THING.

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THE JOURNEY


THE JOURNEY

By Natalie Bright

This month we’re blogging about genre: what do you write and why? Some days it’s all uphill, chasing this writing fever.

My youngest son graduated high school this year and as we complete the paperwork process for college, I realized he may take his life in a whole new direction than what I had planned. He is a talented artist, since a very early age with a gift for color and design. I made him go to summer art camp as a pre-teen and he says I ruined the joy of drawing for him. He is a gamer, so I tried to steer him towards graphic design,  and he could build a resume by redesigning my website and helping me with social media memes and promo videos. That’s not happening.

Our oldest is also very smart with a talent for business and math. He loves to read, particularly history, and has asked me several times about book premise ideas; “Have you ever read a book where this happens? …” I told him to write it, and that he would find tons of fans with that idea. I had visions of him going to writing conferences with me, and maybe I’d be standing in line at his book signing event one day. But his passion lies in an entirely different area than anything I’d ever considered. It’s not going to be the family business or writing, and that makes me sad.

I remember hurrying home to tell my father about the English and poetry classes I had taken in college, and about my poetry journal. I wrote a book when I was in high school. His reply, “You should take some business classes.” I followed his advice and didn’t get back to writing until twenty years later. Dad had a different idea for my journey, just like I had envisioned our kids’ path.

Light bulb moment: we each have our own path to find. My journey in writing and publishing is MY journey, and MINE alone. No one is going to make me sit down at the computer and hold my hand. I have so many ideas and projects in my head. So many opportunities. The only problem I have is time.

This week has been particularly difficult with day job deadlines, the stories tug at me every minute, but that’s okay. I can do this. I can make everybody happy. I took my laptop with me while we were out of town last weekend, only to realize that I can’t write with someone in the same room. I read over what I had worked on in critique this week and it was horrible. The struggle is real.

Time. I wish I would exercise more and plan healthier meals for my family. I wish the day job would go away, but since my husband is the boss that’s not likely.  I wish I could join the five o’clock morning writers’ group, but my brain doesn’t come alive until seven. I wish I could stay awake all night and finish something. Time.

What I can do is give in to the journey and the stories in my head. What I must do is shut the door and write. Wish me luck. But first, I told my husband, “Yes, I’ll watch Season 3 of Stranger Things with you.”  One-half a step forward and three steps back is my journey.

How do you stay true to your writing? How do you carve out time to get things done?

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

What is the RIGHT Genre for YOU?


What is the RIGHT Genre for YOU?

Natalie Bright

 

The discussion at a writer’s workshop many years ago led by Jane Graves, an award-winning author of contemporary romance, changed the way I think about writing.

Her advice was to, “Hone in on the one thing that speaks to you. Freshness and originality comes from what you can imagine.”

I attended several romance writer’s conferences because that’s what I thought I’d be writing. In the beginning of my writing journey, the whole creative process was a chore; I hated my characters, the dreary plot line, and the editing process seemed like torture. What made me think that I’d ever be able to write a romance novel?

Janes’ words got me to thinking. What I’ve been obsessed with since a very early age, besides writing a book, is Texas history, stories set in the American West, and the great tribes of the Plains, most especially Comanche.

Believe me, I’ve tried to follow the advice of my husband who said if I’d write a spicey,  marketable romance it would make me a fortune, and to consider the ideas of well-meaning editors who suggested I should add a vampire or werewolf to revive that boring western tale. I never could follow through. The stories that didn’t seem like a chore are for middle grades set in the Texas frontier: the Trouble in Texas Series. True stories for emerging readers about rescue horses. And now I’m working on a nonfiction book about cattle drives and chuck wagons. I’m loving the research. Okay, so maybe a little romance in the form of a contemporary women’s fiction book set on a Texas Ranch, still in the early stages, but hopefully a published series one day.

The RIGHT genre is the character that wakes you up in the middle of the night, the endless edits that light a fire in your gut, and the finished piece that feeds your soul. That’s what you should be writing.

Keep writing, my friends!

 

WRITING THE WEST


WRITING THE WEST

Natalie Bright

This month on WordsmithSix Blog we will be posting about the different genres we write in and why. This is a diverse group, and I think there will be something here for everybody.

This is my favorite topic so far this year. I had always envisioned myself as a romance writer because I am a huge fan of the genre. I also hold a great fascination for the American West and remember being enthralled with any book relating to the Oregon Trail at a very young age. When I turned my attention to writing as a professional, I reluctantly discovered that the stories in my head were not romance but set in the dusty frontier.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA

My author platform is solidly set in my mind. I’m not going to ignore the stories in my head any longer. Thank goodness I discovered the Western Writers of America organization through an author Dusty Richards. I took his writing course at the WTAMU Academy and he could not say enough good things about this group and the support they have given him during his career. The first convention I attended was held in Lubbock, not far from my home.

The most recent meeting this year was held in Tuscon, Arizona and I came away from that meeting with ideas for magazine articles relating to my research, a possible publisher for a new women’s fiction series set on a Texas Ranch, and many, many new friends. The weekend was packed full of inspiration and networking. Below, I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts about sending queries from an agent/editor discussion panel. I hope you find this useful.

QUERY DOS AND DON’TS

  1. DO NOT communicate about your work, the query, or your manuscript through Facebook.  This is not appropriate or professional.
  2. Send a very focused query letter with sample chapters. This will tell me if you’re a storyteller.
  3. When working with an editor on a possible contract, do not be afraid to ask every question under the sun.
  4. The Authors Guild offers its members a review of a publishing contract for free.
  5. Leave a one-page, short synopsis after your pitch meeting. Boil it down to three short paragraphs.
  6. Leave a business card after your pitch session.
  7. Be prepared to describe your project in one sentence.
  8. Understand what else has been published on the same topic and how your work fits in.
  9. Follow directions.
  10. Follow the proposed guidelines.
  11. Put your title in the subject line of your email, not “book”, “book idea” or “proposal”. My inbox is full of such emails and I don’t know who is who.
  12. Can you tell me why you’re the person to write this and what else is out there? Why is your project different?
  13. Do not send entire manuscript unless you are invited to do so.
  14. If you can’t write a legible, clear, concise query letter, how can we trust you to write an entire book?
  15. Always tell me if your book is finished or not and include the total word count in a query.

If  you are interested in the Western Writers of America organization, follow this link for how you can become a member: https://westernwriters.org/ and for a recap and pictures from this years conference, check out my blog Prairie Purview on the home page of my website https://nataliebright.com

Hollywood in the Desert


Hollywood in the Desert

Natalie Bright

 

The Old Tucson movie set continues to be recognized as the pre-eminent film location in the Southwest, after its construction in 1939. Hollywood legends have walked the streets from John Wayne, Dean Martin, Glen Ford, Elizabeth Taylor, and many others. It was the location for the show High Chaparral, which aired from 1967 to 1971 staring Cameron Mitchell and Mark Slade, among others. Films, television shows, commercials, and even music videos, have been filmed here. If you are a fan of westerns, as I am, plan a visit to the site. Located about a 30 minutes drive from Tuscon, Arizona there are also eateries, shops, and a great shoot-out performance with stunt men.  For more pictures about my recent trip to Tuscon to attend the Western Writers of American convention, go to my Instagram @natsgrams.

TUCK EVERLASTING – Review


TUCK EVERLASTING

Review by

Natalie Bright

This classic novel by Natalie Babbitt tells the story about a young girl who stumbles upon a family’s stunning secret. If you could live forever, would you?  This book has always been a favorite of mine since an early age, but have you re-read any books from your childhood lately? The writing absolutely blew me away. The setting is stunning, the characters are perfection, and the emotion packs a punch. The story lingers in your head for weeks after. Don’t you love it when that happens?  As a writer, I have discovered a whole new appreciation for the children’s literature. TUCK EVERLASTING is as entertaining for adults as well as kids. Watch the movie too, but the book is worth your time and study of story craft.

Now you have homework: pick up one of your favorite childhood book and savor the greatness with a completely new mindset as an adult.

Happy writing!

CHARACTER TRAITS


CHARACTER TRAITS

Natalie Bright

 

 

Whether you craft detailed character profiles or you let the character take you on their journey, it is helpful to really KNOW your character’s personality. By understanding the inner core of your characters, you understand their personalities, motivations, and how they will react to conflict and to each other. There are several books that make your job easier.

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Dr. Linda Edelstein

From Sex to Schizophrenia: Everything you need to develop your characters! As a psychology-based book for writers, this is an excellent addition for your reference library. With insightful summaries, you can dig deep into motivation and conflict, and create complex characters that readers love.

45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

This book explores the common male and female archetypes that have been used in story-telling for centuries. This gives you ideas for traits, habits, hidden secrets, desires and greatest fears as a foundation for creating compelling characters and storylines. Dig deep and ask why. This will help you understand your characters’ motivation, making them intriguing and realistic. And added bonus are the examples for each archetype drawn from literature, television and movies. This is a great book.

Happy Writing!

Cowboys and Cattle Drives


Cowboys and Cattle Drives

Natalie Bright

 

For western history fans, I stumbled on two excellent books that capture the spirit and hard work of cowboys who pushed herds of Longhorns north to market.

One is FREE and you can read it online now, A TEXAS COWBOY or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony by Charles A. Siringo. Here’s the link: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3830

This vivid, action-packed memoir begins in Dodge City, where a young Siringo grew up as the son of immigrants, an Italian father and an Irish mother. Early Texas was a dangerous and adventurous place, and Siringo lives on his own trying his hand at various jobs, always managing to send money back to his mother. His stories of the trail are amazing accounts of stampedes, weather, and hard luck. He eventually settled down to become a store merchant when he published this autobiography at the age of thirty in 1885.

The other cowboy book that has emerged somewhat as the most realistic, is WE POINTED THEM NORTH: RECOLLECTIONS OF A COWPUNCHER by E.C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott, written with Helena Huntington Smith. Published in 1939, Abbott was 78 years old and with Smith’s help, he wanted to “set the record straight” about the cattle trailing days. Arriving with his family from Norfolk, England to Nebraska, Abbott’s father was the second son of a wealthy British family, hoping to find better opportunities in America. The first thing he did was to travel to Texas and buy cattle, leaving a ten-year-old Abbott to join the outfit that brought their newly purchased herd north. Abbott’s father returned to the Nebraska frontier by train. Abbott was a friend of the western artist Charles Russell, and his life is believed to have been the inspiration for LONESOME DOVE. This is a raw, honest, bare-bones look at early Texas.

The thing that both of these accounts have in common is the practice of allowing young men to fend for  themselves in the Texas Frontier. Everyone had to work for money and food, and learn to survive. A good horse, a saddle and the clothes on their back was all they needed. Can you imagine leaving town at trails end to find more work with no money or food in your pocket? There is no whining or complaining in either of these memoirs. They faced the situation head on and did they best they could. These people were amazingly tough and resourceful.

I am deep into research about Texas history and the great Texas Longhorn migration. My next nonfiction book KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, will be out in 2020. It will feature the history of the chuck wagon and authentic recipes from the cattle drive era.

 

WITH WORDS WE WEAVE


WITH WORDS WE WEAVE

Natalie Bright

The Texas High Plains Writers brings you a new collection of short stories, memoirs, essays, and poetry from our talented members. One of the oldest writer’s groups in the country, we are celebrating our 100th anniversary next year in 2020. It’s amazing to me that a group of women who wanted to support each other in their writing under the name of Panhandle Pen Women, started an organization that has met continuously for 100 years. Our members today represent every genre from inspirational to horror, play writes, music, and everything in between.

Based in Amarillo, an anthology for this group is nothing new, but I am so glad the current Board of Directors made the decision to revive the writing contest and publish members’ works. In this new anthology, thirty-two authors — from New York Time’s bestselling to newly published — spin tales of laughter, love, and loss. A lawman on the western frontier, a go-kart race for the ages, a keening banshee in picturesque Ireland . . .These stories will make you smile, get your adrenaline pumping, and bring a tear to your eye.

Here’s the link on Amazon to buy. Click here.

https://www.amazon.com

For more information about THPW, visit their website here. http://texashighplainswriters.com/

Thank you for supporting our upcoming 100th year celebration through your purchase of this new book and thanks for reading Wordsmith Six!

Natalie Recommends – WRITER GET NOTICED


Natalie Recommends

WRITER GET NOTICED

 

 

Have you been writing for years, but feel like no one notices? Have you published your stories, only to gain a handful of readers? Do your marketing efforts feel like shouting into a void?

Veteran writer and motivational coach Colleen M. Story helps you break the spell of invisibility to reveal the author platform that will finally draw readers your way.

There are more books out there than ever before, and readers have many other things vying for their attention. A writer can feel like a needle in a haystack, and throwing money at the problem rarely helps. What does work is creating a platform that stands out, but in a sea of a million platforms, how is one to do that?

Writer Get Noticed! takes a new approach, dispelling the notion that fixing your writing flaws and expanding your social media reach will get you the readers you deserve. Instead, discover a myriad of strengths you didn’t know you had, then use them to find your author theme, power up your platform, and create a new author business blueprint, all while gaining insight into what sets you apart as a writer and creative artist.