Lessons for Little Learners

3. The difficulty distinguishing between literature for children and adults arises in part due to the complex manipulation of format and content in the period. Chapbooks, pamphlets, magazines and novels were produced for adults, children or likely a mixed audience; each could vary considerably in content as well as price. The hornbook, a single sheet of printed text (usually an alphabet or a prayer) attached to a wooden frame with a handle, and the battledore, parchment or paper with printing on both sides, represent simpler forms of educational and/or religious literature for children common from the fifteenth century to the eighteenth century. Although likely starting earlier, diversification is evident from the mid-eighteenth century; key works often referred to include the first collection of nursery rhymes, Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book (1744); Royal Battledore (1746), a folded-card alphabet; the first book-length fiction for children, Sarah Fielding’s The Governess; or, the Little Female Academy (1749), which introduced the popular genre of the school story, and is not unrelated to Letters From a Mother to Her Daughter, At or Going to School, &c. (London: Wetton and Jarvis, 1820) by J.A. Sargant.