"Thet vnger lärer han gammal håller": strövtåg i den äldre barnlitteraturens historia

  • Lotta Paulin
Keywords: the history of children's literature, comparative children's literature, concepts of childhood, medieval children's literature, early modern children's literature, genre, the history of education, didactics in literature


Children's literature in Sweden can be roughly divided into before and after the Reformation. Before the Reformation interesting, didactic texts with entertaining exemplary stories for the young were translated and adapted. During the 16th century very few literary texts – for children as well as adults – were published, mainly because the king had total control over the printing. Only texts sanctioned by the king were published. During the 17th century publications for the young increased and some, but not all of them, also address children or youth in the title or the preface. Earlier this was mainly implied, although some authors were explicit as well. In working with older literature I find it valuable to not just consider the intention of the text but the function as well, since more literary texts had the function of being children's literature in the Middle Ages than has been previously presumed. Folk tales, fairy tales and fables are among the genres that were indeed written for and used to educate children. Modern historical research, as well as my own, shows that there is not one but several different concepts of childhood existing at the same time. I also suggest that children's literature may be used as a perspective. If we try to find a universal, timeless definition it will have to be a compromise that may not help us to answer questions about the literary tradition and of how children and adolescents have been included and addressed, educated and entertained through literature in different historical and cultural contexts.

Keywords: the history of children's literature; comparative children's literature; concepts of childhood; medieval children's literature; early modern children's literature; genre; the history of education; didactics in literature

How to Cite
Paulin, L. (2012). "Thet vnger lärer han gammal håller": strövtåg i den äldre barnlitteraturens historia. Barnboken, 34(1). https://doi.org/10.14811/clr.v34i1.22
Barnelitteratur i historie og samtid