This volume introduces an international readership to the role books have played in the lives and upbringing of young people in the Nordic countries from the 1750s until today. Charlotte Appel and Nina Christensen look beyond an overview of noteworthy texts and characters to address the region’s distinctive reading cultures and the interactions between literature and changing views of childhood, with a special focus on Denmark.
The emergence of a dedicated market for children’s books in the Global North coincided with national school reforms, when Luther’s Small Catechism started to be supplemented—or replaced—by new books published for and about young readers, learners, and citizens. Children’s use of books and media is closely related to adults’ wishes to influence the present and future of a child through instruction, entertainment, or play. Chapters point to strong continuities as well as remarkable changes in the relationships between child readers and adult authors, artists, publishers, teachers, librarians, and parents through the centuries.
Focusing on children as the central users and producers of texts, this interdisciplinary and transnational history shows how children’s exposure to and use of media impacted the Nordic welfare state, and vice versa. As narratives for young audiences are continuously rewritten, republished, and adapted into new forms, this pithy synthesis brings forward new knowledge about the material and social history of books, literature, and childhood.
Charlotte Appel is an associate professor at Aarhus University, where she teaches early modern Danish and European history. Her books include Religious Reading in the Lutheran North: Studies in Early Modern Scandinavian Book Culture. Nina Christensen is a professor and the head of the Center for Children’s Literature and Media at Aarhus University. She is a coeditor of the Children’s Literature, Culture, and Cognition book series and the coeditor of the volume Keywords for Children’s Literature, Second Edition.