What is American literature? It’s writing created by American authors writing in the English language. Much of this literature describes life in America or of Americans living elsewhere. Americans started writing soon after the first European settlers arrived in the 1600s. Ever since, American authors have asked questions: Who are Americans? What do they believe? How do they live, and what do they do?
Native Americans did not write down their stories. Parents told children the stories and history of their people. Some of these stories have vanished. But many have survived, especially stories about how the world and humans came to be.
Canadian literature developed slowly. Today, however, literature is thriving in Canada. Canadian writers win top literary prizes. Their works are read around the world.
Canada was ruled by France and then by England. Part of Canada remained French speaking, and part of Canada became English speaking. It took time for Canadians to accept that their literature could follow different paths.
Come, sit and listen while I tell you a story. Have you ever heard of Robin Hood from Sherwood Forest, who robbed from the rich to give to the poor? How about Snow White biting into the poisoned apple? Then there’s Jack, who traded his mother’s cow for a handful of beans. But they turned out to be magic beans that grew into a giant beanstalk! What these stories have in common is that they are all folklore. They are stories passed on by word of mouth from parents to their children.
HOW LONG HAS FOLKLORE BEEN AROUND?
Fables are fabulous. They’re also good for you. A fable is a short story that teaches a lesson. It ends with a warning, or moral. “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” is the moral of one fable. It means that you shouldn’t suppose things will happen the way you want them to.
WHERE ANIMALS RULE
All kinds of observations about life can be made in a fable. But events in fables usually involve animals. The animals keep the story interesting.
So, who’s your favorite? Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore? Whiz-kid spellcaster Hermione Granger? The massive Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds? Or Professor of Transfiguration Minerva McGonagall?
Or maybe you like Harry Potter the best. If you do, you’re not alone. Kids all over the world (and adults too!) love Harry Potter and the books that tell of his adventures.
THE BOY WIZARD
Maybe you haven’t read Harry Potter’s adventures. If not, then let’s quickly introduce him.