Who Is Afraid of Children’s Books? Critics’ Assumptions on Children’s Literature: A Political Matter

Giulia Zanfabro


In defining children’s literature, the centrality of the public whom this literature refers to is a crucial critical issue: children’s literature is, in fact, «a category of books the existence of which absolutely depends on supposed relationships with a particular reading audience: children» (Lesnik-Oberstein 2002: 15).

The article is structured in three parts: i) in the first part, I will frame children’s literature within the contemporary literary system and I will make explicit the asymmetry existing between, on the one hand, literature – and all agents involved in its production and in its distribution – and, on the other, children – reception; ii) in the second part, I will make explicit the content of the assumptions most children’s literature critics have and the ideas of child they are grounded on; iii) in the third part, I will outline the reasons why questioning these assumptions is a political matter: the arguments used by those political forces that in Italy want to limit the distribution of and to ban Piccolo Uovo – and the like – are, in fact, grounded on the same assumptions most children’s literature critics have, especially those working within pedagogy.


children’s literature; literary theory; Piccolo Uovo; childhood; literary system

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1705

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-16904

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