Story

Historically, “story” is probably one of the most frequently employed words in relation to children’s literature. Yet despite its constant use by reviewers and critics over much of the history of fiction written specifically for young people, it has rarely been defined or analyzed. In its apparent simplicity, taken-for-grantedness, and resistance to deconstruction, the term establishes itself as something unquestioned, like the nature of “childhood” or “the child” itself. “Story” is missing from the index of numerous works where one might reasonably expect to find it—such as Katherine Nelson’s Narratives from the Crib (1989), a psycholinguistic study of the spontaneous (and sometimes story-like) compositions of a preschool child, or Peter Hollindale’s Signs of Childness in Children’s Books (1997). If, as Jacqueline Rose (1984) has argued, “children’s literature” is itself a problematic category, terms like “story” may be an integral part of it. Perhaps significantly, “story” does not appear in Rose’s …

This essay may be found on page 207 of the printed volume.

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