Barbauld’s children’s books

Prior to our last class, I do not recall having heard about Barauld or having read any of her work, but I found it particularly interesting that she was also a children’s author. One of the children’s books that I found was Lessons for Children, written in 1778 after Barbauld and her husband founded their own academy, the Pelgrave School. Lessons for Children urges children to explore the world around them and is modeled after a mother teaching her son; it was based off of Barbauld’s methods of teaching her nephew and adopted son, to read. Lessons for Children was groundbreaking at the time, having bee the first educational work aimed at younger readers to move away from abstract and moral concepts. Learning was made effective by the introduction of ideas and actions relating to every day objects and activities that would have been familiar to an 18th century child. Lessons for Children was also ground breaking in the way that it was printed. Barbauld insisted that the book be printed in large type with large margins, so children could easily read them; this made Barbauld the possible originator of this practice. Lastly, these production changes made the books expensive, too expensive for poor children. Thus, Barbauld’s books widened the education disparity between poor and middle-class children, helping to create a distinct aesthetic for middle-class children’s books.  


One thought on “Barbauld’s children’s books”

  1. I find that disparity really interesting — do you know anything about what makes the aesthetics different? Is it just a matter of the type and page layout, or are those title page cuts particularly exclusive? I gave the book a cursory flip-though, and was surprised that there did not appear to be any other illustrations.

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