Children’s Literature by Children?

Blog December 2021:

Children’s literature is usually associated with texts written for and about children by adults. Yet a number of scholars studying children’s literature are beginning to explore theoretical and practical possibilities of recognizing and respecting children as creators of children’s culture, including abundant texts created by them.

This appreciation is especially timely as the Internet and new media have erased age and professional divides between adult authors and juvenile readers, resulting in increasing numbers of self-published young writers and intergenerational collaborations enabling the emergence of children’s voices.

Literature about, for, and by children, can be seen as an expression of their general rights to….

  • Participate in social, cultural and political life (Article 12, UNCRC)
  • “Seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice” (Article 13, UNCRC)
  • And to participate in and contribute to creative activities and to have their artistic ideas respected by adults (Article 31, UNCRC).

While children’s participation in literary practices as writers is inevitably mediated by adults (for example, parents teachers, publishers or translators), this does not necessarily mean that creative child-adult partnerships are always unjustly asymmetrical. Thinking with children’s rights can help us explore practical ways in which we can acknowledge children’s creative agency and facilitate the presence of literature produced by children in a culture that remains dominated by adults.

Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Ph.D., D.Litt.

Associate Board Member, Children’s Rights at the Museum of Childhood Ireland.

Director of the Center for Young People’s Literature and Culture

Institute of English Studies,

University of Wroclaw,