Children's literature first became a distinct body of writing and publishing in the eighteenth century. Until the seventeenth century, children were usually considered as smaller versions of adults. As the notion of "childhood" as a distinct part of life emerged, a distinct body of literature emerged as well, designed both to entertain and edify this new class of readers. But for much of its history, books written for children were not seen as worthy of scholarly attention. Recently this has changed with everyone from literary critics, to psychologists, to anthropologists, to historians studying this incredibly rich outpouring. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature is the first multi-volume set to document and interpret the books read by children in the English-speaking world. It includes brief biographies of every major author and illustrator, and features essays on all genres of children's literature, individual works, and prominent trends and themes, as well as general essays on the traditions of children's literature in many countries of the world. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature is available in print and as an e-reference text from Oxford's Digital Reference Shelf.