Literature concerning Children
(Click on the title of the work to read it)

Novels
Herland
The Education of Little Tree

Plays
Illiad
Iphigenia

Short Stories
Everything
Ransom of Red Chief
A Child's Christmas in Wales
Rocking Horse Winner
The Use of Force

Letters
Theodore Roosevelt's letters to his children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herland: A short novel by Charlotte Perkins Gillman about a utopian community of women and their children. The story involves the discovery of a new country by three men and their exploration of it. This new country, Herland, is composed entirely of women and children and is entirely dedicated to the raising of its children. A quote follows:

You are but men, three men, in a country where the whole population are mothers-- or are going to be. Motherhood means to us something which I cannot yet discover in any of the countries of which you tell us. You have spoken"--she turned to Jeff, "of Human Brotherhood as a great idea among you, but even that I judge is far from a practical expression?"

Jeff nodded rather sadly. "Very far--" he said.

"Here we have Human Motherhood--in full working use," she went on. "Nothing else except the literal sisterhood of our origin, and the far higher and deeper union of our social growth.


The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. This little book, narrated by a little boy, Little Tree, details his childhood as he is raised by his grandparents. The book does not describe any particular method of parenting just parenting that is beautiful. Click above to read an excerpt (the first chapter).


 

The Iliad by Homer:  Hector to his wife and son    

In Homer's story of the fall of troy to the Greeks, Hector, the son of Priam the ruler of Troy, is married to Andromache who worries about her husband, her son by him and for the doomed city of Troy. She says to her husband, "Your strength will be your destruction and you have no pity either for your infant son or for your unhappy wife who will soon be your widow. For soon the Acheans will set upon you and kill you; and if I lose you it would be better for me to die." Her husband replies:

Well do I know this, and I am sure of it: that day is coming when the holy city of Troy will perish, and Priam and the people of wealthy Priam. But my grief is not so much for the Trojans, not for Hecuba herself, not for Priam the King, nor for my many noble brothers, who will be slain by the foe and lie in the dust, as for you, when one of the bronze-clad Acheans will carry you away in tears and end your days of freedom. Then you may live in Argos, and work at the loom in another woman's house, or perhaps carry water for a woman of Messene or Hyperia, sore against your will: but hard compulsion will lie upon you. And then a man will say as he sees you weeping, "This was the wife of Hector, noblest in battle of the horse-taming Trojans, when they were fighting around Ilion." This is what they will say: and it will be fresh grief to you. to fight against slavery bereft of a husband like that. But may I be dead, may the earth be heaped over my grave before I hear your cries, and of the violence done to you.

    So spake shining Hector and he held out his arms to his son. But the child screamed and sunk back into the bosom of the well-girdled nurse, for he took fright at the sight of his dear father - at the bronze and the crest of the horse-hair which he saw swaying terribly from the top of the helmet. His father laughed aloud, and his lady mother too. At once shining Hector took the helmet off his head and laid it on the ground, and when he had kissed his dear son and dandled him in his arms, he prayed to Zeus and the other Gods: Zeus and ye other Gods, grant that this my son may be, as I am, most glorious among the Trojans and a man of might, and greatly rule in Ilion. And may they say, as he returns from war, "he is far better than his father." 

 



Iphigenia:   In the story of Iphigenia the Greek fleet is ready to set sail to go to war with Troy. Bad weather traps the fleet in its harbor at Aulis so Agamemnon, a leading figure among the generals of the fleet and Iphigenia's father, consults an oracle. The oracle declares that the gods are offended and that only the sacrifice of Iphenigea will permit the fleet to leave. Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter and goes to war. Here are several lines from the play whose theme centers on the effect, on the child, of parental participation in business and commerce.

AGAMEMNON  I envy thee, old man, aye, and every man who leads a life secure, unknown and unrenowned; but little I envy those in office.

ATTENDANT  And yet 'tis there we place the be-all and end-all of existence.

AGAMEMNON  Aye, but that is where the danger comes; and ambition, sweet though it seems, brings sorrow with its near approach. ...

   Agamemnon is not opposed in his grim decision except by his wife, Clytaemnestra, and by Iphigenia's suitor Achilles.

ACHILLES:  They say her sacrifice is necessary.

CLYTAEMNESTRA:  And is there no one to say a word against them?

ACHILLES: Indeed I was in some danger myself from the tumult.

CLYTAEMNESTRA:  In danger of what? kind sir.

ACHILLES:  Of being stoned.

CLYTAEMNESTRA:  Surely not for trying to save my daughter?

ACHILLES:  The very reason.

CLYTAEMNESTRA:  Who would have dared to lay a finger on thee?

ACHILLES:  The men of Hellas, one and all.

 


 

Everything:  A short story by Ingabold Bachmann about a father's growing sense of the importance of his child and of the loss of that child. Here is a quotation from the story:

I began to look at everything in relation to the child. My hands, for instance, which would some day touch and hold it, our third-floor apartment, the Kandlgasse, the VII District, the ways that one could take criss-cross through the town right down to the Prater Meadows, and finally the whole world, with all that’s in it, which I would explain to the child




The Ransom of Red Chief  by O"Henry. A short comedy of the kidnapping of a little boy who turns out to be more than his captives can handle. A quote from the story:

Yes, sir, that boy seemed to be having the time of his life. The fun of camping out in a cave had made him forget that he was a captive himself. He immediately christened me Snake-eye, the Spy, and announced that, when his braves returned from the warpath, I was to be broiled at the stake at the rising of the sun.






A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. A short tale about a boy's Christmas eve spent at a relative's house:

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.



The Rocking Horse Winner  by D. H. Lawrence centers around a young boy and his mother and the boy's wild rides on his rocking horse. An excerpt:

And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll's house, a voice would start whispering: "There must be more money! There must be more money!" And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment. They would look into each other's eyes, to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. "There must be more money! There must be more money!"



The Use of Force by William Carlos Williams

 This short story, by an author who was himself a doctor, is about a physicians visit to a home an an attempt to examine a little girl who is afraid of him and furiously resists having her throat examined.

I had to smile to myself. After all, I had already fallen in love with the savage brat, the parents were contemptible to me. In the ensuing struggle they grew more and more abject, crushed, exhausted while she surely rose to magnificent heights of insane fury of effort bred of her terror of me.

 


 

Theodore Roosevelt's
Letters to his children




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