Children's Literature may be defined as literature composed for young readers and consisting of instructive and interesting stories, rhymes, and poems. Children's literature is marked by linguistic simplicity, plenty of colourful pictures. It appeals to the imagination with tales of fantastic journeys and adventures or stories of fairies, witches and ogres. Famous western books for children include Alice in the Wonderland and Treasure Island. However, all works that are included as children's literature were not always written for children. For example, Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe, which are read more by children than by adults, were originally written for an adult audience.
Nitikatha, published by the calcutta school-book society in 1818, marked the beginning of children's literature in Bangla. Consisting of eighteen didactic stories, Nitikatha was meant to be used as a textbook and was not written with children in mind. Nevertheless, it has become the first Bangla book of this genre. Other writers who contributed to children's literature were iswar chandra vidyasagar (1820-1891) with Bodhodaya (1851), varna parichay (1885), Kathamala (1856), Charitavali (1856), and Akhyanmavjari (1863), akshay kumar datta (1820-1886) with Charupath (3 volumes, 1855-1859), and madanmohan tarkalankar (1817-1858) with Shishushiksa (3 volumes, 1850-1855). The magazine Balak, edited by swarna kumari devi (1855-1932), was one of the first magazines written with children in mind.
rabindranath tagore's writings made a turning point in the history of children's literature. Before him children's literature had been basically instructive, edifying, and ethical in nature, but with him it became entertaining. Other writers who contributed in this vein were upendra kishore roychowdhury (1863-1915), sukumar roy (1887-1923), dakshinaranjan mitra majumder (1877-1957), kazi nazrul islam (1898-1976), abanindranath tagore (1871-1951), bande ali mia (1806-1971). Works such as Dakshina Ranjan's Thakurmar Jhuli (1908), Hemendra Prasad's Asadhe Galpa (1901), Jogindranath Sarkar's Hasirashi (1902), Upendra Kishore's Tuntunir Bai (1910), asutosh mookerjee's Bhut Petni (1909), Sukumar Roy's Abol Tabol (1923), Pagla Dashu and Abak Jalpan, Sukhalata Rao's Galper Bai (1913) and Kazi Nazrul Islam's Jhinge Phul (1945) are delightful writings for children. Several magazines for children were also published during this period, including Mukul, Prakrti (1907), Sandesh (1914), Mauchak (1328), Shishu Sathi (1329), Khoka Khuku (1330), Shuktara, Tapur Tupur. mohammad yakub ali chowdhury's Nurnabi (1918), about the Prophet muhammad (Sm), falls into the category of edifying, rather than entertaining, books. Other works of this period include ibrahim khan's Chheleder Shahnama (1922), habibur rahman's Hasir Galpa (1917), kazi imdadul huq's Kamarer Kanda (1919), muhammad wajed ali's Sindabad Saodagarer Galpa (1922), Bande Ali Mia's Chor Jamai (1929), Meghkumari (1932), Javgler Khabar (1934), and Jangler Raja (1937), Mohammad Modabber's Hirer Phul (1931), abul kalam shamsuddin's Kachipata (1932), and habibullah bahar chowdhury's Omar Faruq (1931). Later writers who wrote for children include golam mostafa (1897-1964), jasimuddin (1904-1976), kazi kader newaj (1909-1983), farrukh ahmad (1918-1983), mohammad nasir ali (1910-1975), shawkat osman (1917-1998), Atwar Rahman (b. 1927), and Habibur Rahman (b. 1934). abdullah al-muti sharafuddin (1930-1998) wrote books on science for children such as Eso Bijbaner Rajye (1955), Abak Prthibi (1955), and Khelte Khelte Bijnan. Ashraf Siddiqui (b. 1927), begum sufia kamal (1911-1999), Shamsur Rahman (b. 1929), Al Mahmud (b. 1936), Mahbub Talukder (b. 1941), rokanuzzaman khan (b. 1946), Humayun Ahmed (b. 1948), and Mohammad Zafar Iqbal (b. 1952) have produced both poetry and fiction for children.
The contribution of the bangladesh shishu academy towards children's literature in Bangladesh is noteworthy. Since its inception in 1976, it has published more than 400 books suitable for children. The themes as well as variety of these works are remarkable. They include poems, rhymes, novels, stories, science, drama, and autobiographies. One of the significant contributions of the Academy is the Xisu Bisvakos (1993-98), a children's encyclopedia in five volumes. The Academy has also been publishing a monthly magazine, Shishu, for the past 25 years. The bangla academy too has contributed to children's literature. Among its more than hundred books for children are translations, nursery rhymes, poems, stories, and novels. It has also published books for children on science and the history of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Asiatic Society published' Bangla Sahitya Shishu (2002), and Junior Banglapedia (2011-12) both English and Bangla version in two volumes. Private institutions, like the publishing house Mukta Dhara, have also enriched children's literature by publishing a sizable number of children's books. [Shaikh Ataur Rahman]