Language and Control in Children's Literature


Children's literature has in the past received little serious linguistic analysis despite its widely acknowledged influence on the development and socialisation of young people. In this important and timely study Murray Knowles and Kirsten Malmkjaer examine the work of some of our most popular children's writers from this and the last century in order to expose the persuasive power of language.At the heart of their analysis lie two surveys of children's favourite reading; the first carried out in 1888, the other a hundred years later by the authors themselves. By computer analysing the vocabulary and grammar patterns in the most popular children's text of each period, the authors examine the ways in which children's writers use language to inculcate a particular world view in the minds of the young readers. Looking at the work of nineteenth century English writers of juvenile fiction, Knowles and Malmkjaer expose the colonial and class assumptions on which the books were predicated. In the modern 'teen' novel and the work of Roald Dahl the authors find contemporary attempts to control children within socially established frameworks. Other authors considered include Oscar Wilde, E. Nesbit, Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl .In providing tangible demonstrations of the ways in which writers employ the resources offered by language to reinforce cultural assumptions, Language and Control in Children's Literature is an invaluable book for anyone concerned with children and what they read, whether parent, teacher or student of language and literature.


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