‘Love to learn your book’: children’s experiences of text in the eighteenth century

Arizpe, E. and Styles, M. (2004) ‘Love to learn your book’: children’s experiences of text in the eighteenth century. History of Education, 33(3), pp. 337-352. (doi: 10.1080/00467600410001691528)

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Reconstructing historical reading practices is always problematic and even more so when we are talking about children, a group of readers whose voices have only recently been considered important enough to take into account in understanding the act of reading. As literary historians, we must recognize that we read texts meant for children from previous centuries not only through the distorted lens of twenty-first century Western academic traditions but also as adults. However, by focusing on the empirical data available for specific children in a particular period (the mid-eighteenth century in this case) and using educational theory, the history of books for children and other reader reconstructions, we can begin to piece together a picture of the Johnson children's experiences of texts. Dealing with case studies implies other problems, especially when they seem to be exceptional rather than exemplary. This particular case study is exceptional because it is based on an archive that is unique in the history of domestic literacy in eighteenth-century England: Jane Johnson's nursery library. The 'library' consists of nearly 400 cards and other artefacts found in a hatbox after the death of Elisabeth Ball, a collector of early children's books.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Arizpe, Professor Evelyn
Authors: Arizpe, E., and Styles, M.
Subjects:L Education > LA History of education
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Culture, Literacies, Inclusion & Pedagogy
Journal Name:History of Education
ISSN (Online):1464-5130
Published Online:23 May 2006

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