Patricia Crain: Reading Children: Literacy, Property, and the Dilemmas of Childhood in Nineteenth Century America
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As Henry James put it best, “It’s takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature,” making nineteenth century children’s literature all the more fascinating for it’s depiction of the social, cultural and economic shifts through stories that can at times be as frightening and bizarre as they can be comforting or educational.
In Reading Children: Literacy, Property, and the Dilemmas of Childhood in Nineteenth Century America,Patricia Crain provides an expansive exploration of this shift as it pertains to the historical relationship between children and their books during the course of the century. Arguing that the nursery and schoolroom instill a particular version of the social contract within children in order to not only provide an entry point into the world of reading and writing, but also introduces the child into a modern world based on commodity and property. Crain offers an in-depth analysis of how the modernization of the social and economic landscape and the...