Early Nineteenth Century

By 1800 these short, didactic stories, which were intended to teach right and wrong with simple and amusing prose, verses, and illustrations, had become the predominant genre in children’s literature. The subject matter of these early versions was usually domestic or rural, as fairy stories or anything fanciful were considered at best old fashioned and at worst destructive to a child’s education and faith, and the attitude was generally secular, with the hero or heroine being rewarded for good behavior with worldly goods. For example, in Newbery’s Giles Gingerbread (1764) the reader is told, “Merit and Industry may entitle a man to any Thing.”

The history of Giles Gingerbread, a little boy, who lived upon learning

The History of Giles Gingerbread, A Little Boy, Who Lived upon Learning, by John Newbery (York: J. Kendrew, c. 1820)

Early Nineteenth Century