To establish a clear origin of children’s literature is difficult because the majority of the classic tales that we know today are based on traditional stories or motifs that have been adapted and reinvented. What we can say is that children’s stories are closely linked to the oral literary tradition. It is no wonder that children’s literature is a genre which currently resides in the voice more than any other, thanks to storytellers, narrators, teachers and parents. "Tales choose the throats and hearts where they survive" (Pep Bruno -interview at boolino).
These stories, which were originally gory by modern standards, reflected the concerns of an era and they were in no way intended specifically for child audiences. They are folk stories that were born and lived on the lips and they show the particular sensitivity of a society at a historic moment.
Traditionally, childhood was not given any special treatment because it was formerly not considered an important stage of a human being's life; childhood was considered a stepping stone on the way to maturity. It was not until well into the 19th century that the concept of childhood was born as we know it today, and it was not until the 20th century that specialist children’s literature started to emerge. In recent decades we have seen a boom in illustrated children’s books and unprecedented experimentation with stories and literature for children and young people.
In just a century, children’s literature has evolved hugely in comparison with earlier periods. Furthermore, special emphasis has been placed on learning at early ages, and not without good reason; it has been understood that high-quality children’s education is the most important basis of any society and reading is one of the cornerstones of this education. That is why, when we at boolino made a commitment to promoting reading among children, it is because we believed that everyone’s efforts serve a purpose. We only have to take a look at history to realize that literature sets us free, that literacy and literary knowledge are essential to becoming aware of the world and ourselves.
Children are also capable of becoming aware about the world in which they live. As we have seen in interviews with authors and experts in literature for children and young people, it is not about lecturing, moralizing or sugarcoating stories to protect them from the world, but adapting and being respectful towards childhood, so that it is always the child who discovers for themselves the reality that surrounds them, with their own capacity to imagine and build.
Image by Arthur Rackham for The Old Woman In The Wood.