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Unbirthday Parties and Other Celebrations from Children's Books



Unbirthday Parties and Other Celebrations from Children's Books
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.89

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Perraut, printing, teacakes, tuffet, whey, battledore, revolutionary, prestigious, somber, pop-up, innocence, literary, riddles, pronoun, riverbank, hobbits
     content words:    John Amos Comenius, Louis XIV, Sleeping Beauty, No French, Charles Perrault, My Mother, Mother Goose, Mother Goose Day, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lewis Carroll


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Unbirthday Parties and Other Celebrations from Children's Books
By Colleen Messina
  

1     If you go to Amazon.com, you can choose from 32,000 children's books. You can pick from board books, pop-up books, cloth books, mysteries, fiction, and thrillers. Today, children's books are a special, competitive market in the publishing world. It is hard to imagine that children had no books of their own until about 250 years ago.
 
2     Children's books were disappointing in the sixteenth century because parents expected children to enjoy books about grammar and manners. Children were thought of as just miniature adults and were expected to be "seen not heard." A few books had intricate woodcuts or engravings for illustrations. Even a book with the promising title of The Games and Pleasures of Childhood showed expressionless children in stiff positions. They didn't look like they were having much fun at all!
 
3     John Amos Comenius published the first picture book in 1658. The book was an encyclopedia about nature, and it had beautiful illustrations. He believed in the revolutionary idea that children and adults had different needs! His book was popular for the next two centuries, and foreign publishers translated it into many languages. After that, publishers began experimenting with other books for children, such as alphabet books, rhymes, and fairy tales.
 
4     Most children learned their alphabets from wooden paddles with letters inscribed on them called hornbooks. A transparent, protective sheet made from a cow's horn covered the alphabet, and a tiny red cross decorated the top of the paddle so that children could pray before studying. This little cross, called "Christ's cross," later led to the word "crisscross." Later, children used an alphabet book called the battledore. A battledore had a piece of folded cardboard with an illustrated alphabet on one side. By the early nineteenth century, publishers printed many other kinds of books to teach the ABCs. Today if you search for alphabet books, you might find more than 85 pages of listings on a bookstore website!

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