A couple of extracts from this Q&A with Michael Rosen. Click through for the full piece.
How valuable is children’s literature to the literary canon?
Most adult readers were made into the readers they are by the “repertoire” of reading they did as children. The link, then, between children’s literature and adult literature is not so much via the writers as through the reading habits of the readers. That said, there are various key children’s literature texts that have informed adult writing – most notably perhaps, the Alice books; although I would guess that much of the readership of crime fiction was inducted into the genre through Enid Blyton.
What’s your definitive work of children’s literature?
Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book (1744). This is the world’s first collection of what we now call nursery rhymes and it’s the first children’s book that has absolutely no moralistic or didactic purpose. The nursery rhyme canon is a powerful set of tiny stories giving us many tales of unhappy happenstance, oddity and foolishness and this little book was instrumental in giving us all this pleasure.