By the time children’s literature emerged, adult literature had already existed

as an established literary system for many centuries. The evolution that took

mainstream literature several millennia has been accomplished by children’s

literature in three to four hundred years, and in some countries consider­

ably less. The traditional division since antiquity of literature into epic, lyric

and drama was from the beginning irrelevant to children’s literature, and

with rare exceptions, even today poetry and drama for children are marginal

phenomena within its system. When we speak about children’s literature, we

most often mean prose, stories, that is, epic. Thus the history of children’s

literature consists mainly of the evolution of epic structures.