Epidemics in Children’s Literature: The Role and Prominence of Epidemics in 19th and 20th Century Children’s Literature
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This project seeks to investigate the connection between children’s literature and the contemporary epidemics and illnesses that plagued the people of the time period. To begin investigating this relationship, six popular classic children’s novels from the 19th and 20th centuries that contain epidemics in some form were taken and analyzed in the context of the disease’s historical relevancy. In researching the illnesses that each novel contained, this project’s goal was to begin to explore and establish the lengths to which children’s literature is reflective of the serious problems of its own contemporary society. The six novels researched and analyzed were Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott; A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett; Little House on the Prairie and By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder; and The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams.