Lessons for Children  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Lessons for Children is a series of four age-adapted reading primers written by prominent eighteenth-century British poet and essayist Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Published in 1778 and 1779, the books initiated a revolution in children’s literature in the Anglo-American world. For the first time, the needs of the child reader were seriously considered: the typographically simple texts progress in difficulty as the child learns. In perhaps the first demonstration of experiential pedagogy in Anglo-American children's literature, Barbauld's books use a conversational style depicting a mother and her son discussing the natural world. Based on the educational theories of John Locke, Barbauld's books emphasize learning through the senses.

One of the primary morals of Barbauld's lessons is that individuals are part of a community; in this she was part of a tradition of female writing that emphasized the interconnectedness of society. Charles, the hero of the texts, explores his relationship to nature, to animals, to people, and finally to God.

Lessons had a significant effect on the development of children's literature in Britain and America. Maria Edgeworth, Sarah Trimmer, Jane Taylor, and Ellenor Fenn, to name a few of the most illustrious, were inspired to become children's authors because of Lessons and their works dominated children's literature for several generations. Lessons itself was reprinted for over a century. However, because of the disrepute that educational writings fell into, largely due to the low esteem awarded Barbauld, Trimmer, and others by contemporary male Romantic writers, Barbauld's Lessons has rarely been studied by scholars. In fact, it has only been analyzed in depth since the 1990s.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lessons for Children" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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