Hi people, time for a life update! Last week, I finally handed in my master’s thesis :) The title is “Barnboken som leksakslåda”, which means “The Children’s Book as a Toy Box” (ugh, that doesn’t sound nearly as good as it does in Swedish) and it’s about children’s books written by children. Even though children’s books are supposed to be directed to children in the first place, it’s usually adults who write them. So that’s why I thought it would be interesting to see if children’s books written by children reflected the same thematic and aesthetic ideas as the ones written by adults. Also, I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of literature children between 10 and 12 years old would produce, to see to what extent they’re aware of literary conventions.
As it turned out, most of the books reflected a lot of the typical aspects of children’s books, both traditional and modern, and they also played with them sometimes, for example by mixing different genres. They had themes like desert islands, doors to fantasy worlds, and there were also a couple of problem-oriented books on themes like bullying. The most striking difference with children’s books written by adults was that the distinction between children and adults wasn’t as sharp as it usually is. A lot of times, the protagonists in children’s books kind of oppose themselves to adult ideas and rules (think of Pippi Longstocking ;)), and leave home to go on their own adventure, but that wasn’t exactly the case in these books. For example, there was one book where the parents and the children went on an adventure together and never returned home.
I mainly chose this subject because I wanted to explore the theoretical background of children’s books a little more. Even though I also wrote about children’s books in my bachelor thesis, I didn’t really study them from that perspective. It was really interesting to find out things like how the concept of childhood (just like the modern ideas about family and motherhood) didn’t really exist before the 18th century, because there simply wasn’t enough prosperity — and how child readers often have a preference for pulp literature and why that’s totally fine. So now, I just have to wait for my results!
PS: You can read my thesis here (it’s in Swedish, though).