Children’s Print Culture

Tradition and innovation

Authored by: Carol L. Tilley

The Routledge International Handbook of Children, Adolescents and Media

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415783682
eBook ISBN: 9780203366981
Adobe ISBN: 9781134060559


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The social, cultural, and material transformations that followed in the wake of the development of movable type came later for children and adolescents than they did for adults. Prior to the eighteenth century, authors and publishers took little interest in the particular needs of youth, in part because these needs were seldom distinguished from those of adults until Enlightenment philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau posited that childhood was separate and distinctive from adulthood. This intellectual shift accompanied—in Western Europe and North America at least—both a rise in literacy and a growing entrepreneurial spirit among publishers that led to child-centered publications such as the English book merchant and publisher John Newbery’s A Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744). Newbery’s book combined alphabetic structure with rhyming descriptions of children’s games, profuse illustrations, and moral lessons. Although the book was not wholly original, building as it did on various moral and educational texts from preceding centuries (cf. Darton, 1932), it fulfilled Newbery’s purpose of Delectando monemus (Latin, “instruction with delight”) and marked a starting point for a distinctive print culture for young people.

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