Child Death and Children’s Emotions in Early Sunday School Reward Books
This chapter examines how, at a time of very high childhood mortality, some early Sunday School Reward Books (SSRB) explore child emotions around dying, including reactions to the deaths of siblings, young friends and parents. Published chiefly 1820–1860 in England, early SSRB were largely Evangelical, linking back to James Janeway’s Token for Children, first published 1671–1672 but also later, including in SSRB form. SSRB were short pamphlets, aiming to compete with chapbooks and produced cheaply for the growing number of poor children attending Sunday School. A number of these address emotions around childhood death. Though written by adults, they appear to observe actual children and allow the child’s voice to come through in a manner not possible in more polished, fictional writing.