Silence and Silencing in Children’s Literature

Call for papers

Children’s literature has often been implicated in a widespread and deeply rooted discourse of silence and silencing, which draws on the idea that “children should be seen but not heard.” In traditional didactic children’s literature we find many texts that either directly or indirectly advocate that children should be silent. Indeed, reading itself may be an effective silencing strategy. A reading child causes no disturbance – an aspect of reading often overlooked and rarely critically examined. Silence can be linked to what is left unsaid and that which is explicitly censored. In other words, which subjects are tabooed and banned in children’s fictions? But children’s literature is not just a discursive practice for silencing children. It can also be a tool for empowerment, a means of giving children a voice. In a Scandinavian context, for instance, the signal year 1945 comes to mind as a year when children’s literature moved in liberating ways through characters like Pippi Longstocking and Moomin.

Against this background, we ask you to break the silence!

And invite article submissions for a special issue of Barnboken: Journal of Children's Literature Research (due in 2020) which draws on the theme of silence and silencing in children’s citerature. We are particularly, but not exclusively, interested in articles that have a bearing on silence and silencing in Nordic children’s literature, uses a comparative approach, or are theoretically innovative.

Deadline, abstracts: 1 October 2019                                             

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: 15 January 2020

The articles will be published in 2020. The maximum length for the contributions is 40,000 characters. Articles submitted for consideration may not have been previously published 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, see Author Guidelines: A guide to our reference and note system is available at the journal website.

Guest editors of this theme are the four organizers of the IRSCL Congress 2019: Silence and Silencing in Children’s Literature: Elina Druker (Professor, Stockholm Univesity, Sweden), Björn Sundmark (Professor, Malmö University, Sweden), Åsa Warnqvist (Research Manager, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books, Sweden), and Mia Österlund (Associate Professor, Åbo Akademi University, Finland).

The editorial committee consists of Editor Åsa Warnqvist (Research Manager, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books, Sweden), and Assistant Editors Maria Jönsson (Associate Professor, Umeå University, Sweden), Anne Skaret (PhD., University of Applied Sciences, Norway), Björn Sundmark (Professor, Malmö University, Sweden), Olle Widhe (Associate Professor, University of Gothenburg, Sweden), and Mia Österlund (Associate Professor, Åbo Akademi University, Finland).

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.

Barnboken is published with financial support from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

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.