‘A Good Child Is One that Loves His Book’: Literacy, Religious Instruction and the Child as Reader
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This chapter proposes that an original concept of the child as reader emerges in a post-Reformation context through the increasing attention to teaching literacy as an element of religious subjectivity. Focusing on religious books directed to teach the young how to read and to recommend reading to those in the early stages of literacy acquisition, it analyses what the literacy instruction reveals about early modern attitudes towards childhood. It argues that a series of religious texts for children, including Thomas White’s A Little Book for Little Children (1660), James Janeway’s A Token for Children (1671) and Robert Russel’s A Little Book for Children and Youth (c. 1693–1696), built on and complicated this idea of the child reader to produce the category of the ‘good child’ reader.