Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Raising the Profile of Today's Greek Children's Literature

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Raising the Profile of Today's Greek Children's Literature

Article excerpt


Τhe main scope of this article is to raise a concise profile of today's Greek Literature for Children, which has been shaped during last years. After a short report on the reasons that contributed to the configuration of such a profile, some representative books written for children are presented, divided into three categories according to their main theme. There is also a reference to the various genres of literature address children as well as to the translations into Greek, to the illustrations made and the criticism of this literature. Βy the end of this article becomes apparent that, while Greek Literature for Children presents an intention of qualitative rise referring to the themes presented in the books, and follows European and international standards, it needs to become "bolder" regarding the narrative ways authors employ to meet their readers.

Keywords: children's literature, Greek books for children, Greek novel, Greek poetry, Greek illustrated books, Greek short stories

1. Greek Literature for Children: The Long Preparation

The current picture of Greek Literature for Children mainly has been shaped, formally and ideologically, during the last thirty five years. Many factors have contributed to its development: the sociopolitical conditions of change of regime, the new ideas that were registered in the educational system and were related with the international reality, the appearance of associations, as "Woman's Literary Company" and "The Circle of the Greek Children's Book" (Greek National Section of I.B.B.Y.), that with a lot of competitions, which had established from the 1960s, promoted considerably the literary books for children in Greece. Additionally, the past of Literature for Children has also acted in a reinforcing way. Because, beyond the social and moral "didactism" of 19th century and that of the beginning of 20th century, ideological parameters that acted to a large extent as examples to be avoided, Children's Literature has given considerable "work-patterns". We indicatively report: Tragoudakia gia pedia (Little songs for children) by Alexandros Pallis (1889) (Note 1), Ta psila vouna (The high mountains) by Zacharias Papantoniou (1918) (Anagnostopoulos, 2004, pp. 1068-1069), and from the means of 20th century the work of important writers, as Elli Alexiou, Vassilis Rotas, Michael Stassinopoulos. Apart from them, Alki Zei was the first one - with To Kaplani tis Vitrinas (The Tiger under Glass) (1966) and, little later, with the novel O megalos peripatos tou Petrou (The big walk of Petros)(1971) - who placed the base for a big ideological category: that of socio-political reflection, that would penetrate as a component, more or less, all the postwar thematic spectrum of Greek Literature for Children.

2. A Publishing "Burst" Is Coming: Fictions' Thematic Categories

In the 1970s, according to the records of "National Centre of Book" (E.KE.VI.) and "The Circle of the Greek Children's Book", Greek Literature for Children presents an editorial explosion which is continued until today, even if the rapid increase of production does not also involve the proportional guarantee of quality. Schematically, we can say that during the last thirty years, from the side of issues (the central subject of each book), the literary books for children - in which the child-hero, his/her action and his/her everyday routine but also the fundamental social and global matters that surround him/her dominate - can be classified, for the sake of the exposition, in three big thematic categories (Papadatos, 2009, p. 56). These categories are not monolithic, since they do not necessarily exclude each other and each one may be detected in another one.

2.1 The First Thematic Category

In the first thematic category, where the interpersonal relations and the individual problems dominate, subjects that concern birth, death, worker-child, relations between parents and children, divorce, adoption, orphan hood, daily occupations and relations of children, childhood, the sexual factor, handicapped children (special needs) and the third age are prevalent. …

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