"What is Literature?
Defining literature is very subjective but can be well defined as a piece of written art that possesses some sort of educational, moral, or personal value when read.
Value being the key point from a piece of work which would classify it as being a piece of literature or simply just a romance novel. But can we say then that a romance novel is a non-literary work? If after reading a random romance novel, you feel you have gained some educational value or you have put another piece of the puzzle into your life, then one can define such text as "literature . Until then, romance novels are non-literary.
Children's books, however, do add value to a child's life by means of imagination and education. To a child, a simple piece of text or a short story is defined as "literature because that child will grow from reading or having read to him or her text.
Dah Chen's "Colors of the Mountains is a valued piece of literature because within this text is his own personal memoir, the history of China, and growth from poverty. All of which, when read, a reader can walk away with some value.
A text can only be defined by the reader themselves as being a good piece of literature. Only the reader can decide on whether the text has given them value or educational substance. Literature can not be defined in black or white. It can only be defined as far as the personal preferences of the reader. Anyone can just go to Barn's and Noble and pick out a book, but what keeps the reader pursuing the book? Whatever it is that will keep the reader pursuing the book is the value that reader will walk away with.
Another way of defining literature is to limit it to 'great books', books which, whatever their subject, and is 'notable for literary form or expression'. Here the criterion is either aesthetic worth alone or worth in combination