Focusing on the Picture

The theme of the latest Nordic Research Conference, held at the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books in the fall of 2016, was “Focusing on the Picture”. Inspired by the conference, we are now working on a special issue on the picture in children’s books.

While the last few decades have witnessed a visual turn in culture overall, this turn is particularly evident when it comes to picturebooks. In addition, we see a growing interest in the use of ground-breaking hybrid forms of visual and textual narration in stories for children and young adults, in comics and graphic novels as well as in illustrated children’s and YA books.

The visual turn creates partly new frames for narration and calls for a new visual literacy. As Kristin Hallberg pointed out as early as 1982, reading children’s literature means interpreting text and picture as a whole. Coining the term iconotext, Hallberg highlighted the interplay between these different modalities. What characterizes the interplay between text and picture today? What new terms describing the visuality of children’s books will pave the way for new readings?

We invite articles on new forms of visual narration in children’s books. We welcome media or genre focused studies on wordless picturebooks, early-concept books, picturebooks, comics, graphic novels and illustrated books. We are also interested in analyses of the interplay between the verbal and the visual, digital media studies, reception studies and studies focused on the field’s methodological and theoretical development. Studies devoted to the materiality of visual narratives are also of interest, for example trends in tinting, shading, book format, paper quality and tactile elements. Moreover, we also welcome interdisciplinary readings including gender, animal studies, posthumanist, bodypolitical, ecocritical and other perspectives showing new ways of examining pictures.

What are the defining visual features of late modern children’s literature? How do we understand the visual narrative from a historical point of view? Where is picturebook research today? What does the picture tell us and why? What can we learn from other disciplines’ views on the visual narrative? What influences from other image-based media are discernible in children’s literature?

Barnboken – Journal of Children’s Literature Research welcomes articles on the topic “Focusing on the picture”. The intention is to highlight how questions of visual narration are addressed in the works of Nordic children’s and YA writers.

Deadline, abstracts: 5 September 2017

Please send a 300-word proposal to The following information should be included: The title of the article, the name of the writer, affiliation, and e-mail address.

Deadline, articles: 10 April 2018

The articles will be published in 2017 and 2018. Articles submitted for consideration may not have been previously published or presented in any other context.

Texts are sent via e-mail to or via the login system on Barnboken’s website: For further information on submission details such as length, see Author Guidelines:

Barnboken – Journal of Children’s Literature Research is published by The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books. All articles accepted have been peer reviewed by at least two peers and will be published online under an Open Access model. The main language of the journal is Swedish, but articles written in Danish, Norwegian and English are also welcome. We are especially interested in contributions related to Sweden or the Nordic countries.

Guest editor of this issue is Associate professor Mia Österlund, Åbo Akademi University, Finland (contact: The editorial committee consists of Professor Björn Sundmark, Malmö University, Sweden, Dr. Åsa Warnqvist, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books, Sweden (Editor), and Mia Österlund. Barnboken is published with financial support from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

A guide to our reference and note system can be found at the journal website.

For more information, please contact:
Åsa Warnqvist
The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books
Odengatan 61
SE-113 22 Stockholm
Phone: + 46 8 54 54 20 65.