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From Campaigns to Improve the Moral Standards of Children’s Books to their Literary Consecration: The Emergence of an International Sub-Field

De la moralisation du livre jeunesse à sa consécration littéraire: l’émergence d’un sous-champ international
Delia Guijarro Arribas
Traduction de Hayley Wood
Cet article est une traduction de :
De la moralisation du livre jeunesse à sa consécration littéraire : l’émergence d’un sous-champ international [fr]

Résumés

Cet article retrace la genèse et le développement d’un sous-champ transnational puis international de la littérature jeunesse depuis 1945. Dans l’après-guerre, la littérature jeunesse était au cœur des débats sur la moralisation et la protection de la jeunesse. En s’appuyant sur la légitimité de ces discours moralisateurs, certaines personnalités s’associèrent pour construire à l’international trois institutions culturelles – la Bibliothèque internationale pour la jeunesse de Munich (1949), l’International Board on Books for Young People (1951) et la Foire internationale du livre jeunesse de Bologne (1965). Les objectifs de ces trois institutions convergèrent rapidement vers la promotion et la valorisation du livre jeunesse. L’article examine dans un premier temps ces trois institutions et le réseau commun de personnalités qui en fut à l’origine, avant d’analyser dans un second temps l’évolution des mécanismes internationaux de distinction et de marquage de la littérature jeunesse.

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Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Illustration by Edmond Dulac for the tale “Le Rossignol”. In Andersen Hans Christian (1911). La reine des neiges et quelques autres contes. Paris, H. Piazza: 94.

Source: Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France (French National Library).

1In the period that followed the Second World War, children’s literature was routinely discussed in terms of an opposition between educational and morally improving “good” books, and entertaining “bad” books, some of which were even considered to be violent or indecent. The arrival of American comic books in Europe in the interwar period had sparked an initial wave of outcry (Crépin 2001), in particular against the Journal de Mickey, but it was after the Second World War that movements seeking to improve moral standards in children’s publishing simultaneously began to take shape in several Western countries. In France, these campaigns resulted in the Act of 16 July 1949, which introduced retrospective oversight of publications for children based on a principle of responsibility that encouraged publishers to self-censor (Crépin 2001). In Belgium, a law modelled on the French legislation was debated without being adopted. The Conseil de Littérature de Jeunesse, founded by Jeanne Cappe in 1948, and its journal Littérature de Jeunesse (1949-1976), sought to steer readers towards “good” books (Durand & Habrand 2018: 301). In the United States (US), Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK), these movements sparked a heated debate in both civil society and among political representatives (Gabilliet 1999a; 1999b). They were equally influential in Spain, where in 1952 Franco’s regime established the Junta Asesora de la Prensa Infantil, which issued very specific directives governing the text and illustrations of publications for children and adolescents, based on religious, educational, patriotic, and literary standards (Cedán Pazos 1986: 55-59; Fernández López 2000: 244). Although driven by specific national factors, this shared context favoured connections between a number of the actors involved in these campaigns, who were quick to form a transnational and translinguistic network to support the recognition of children’s literature as a literary and publishing genre.

2This transnational network, which in most cases preceded the formation of national sub-fields, in the sense of Bourdieu, of children’s publishing—i.e. the formation of spaces with their own concerns and a certain degree of autonomy within the field of publishing (Sapiro & Heilbron 2008: 40)—is, however, an underexplored area in research on publishing and children’s literature. Despite the seminal articles on children’s books by Jean-Claude Chamboredon and Jean-Louis Fabiani (1977), and work in the sociology of literature on transnational intellectual networks (Sapiro et al. 2018) and the power relations between national literatures (Casanova 2004; Heilbron 1999; Heilbron & Sapiro 2002), sociologists have not as yet considered the transnational and international dimensions of children’s literature.

3This article aims to fill this gap by analysing this transnational network of actors striving to improve the moral standards of children’s books, at the intersection between the global context of the Cold War and specific national factors, followed by its gradual transformation, during the second half of the twentieth century, into the international sub-field of children’s literature, with specific capital and consecrating bodies giving it relative autonomy from nation states and markets (Sapiro 2013: 84). Between 1949 and 1965, this transnational network was behind the creation of three cultural institutions with the purpose of developing and promoting children’s literature at the international level: the International Youth Library in Munich (1949), the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY, 1951), and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (1965). These institutions are still the three main consecrating bodies within the international sub-field of children’s literature.

4First, I examine the shared origin of these three institutions, drawing on the reports of the congresses held by IBBY since 1952, which have been archived by the University of Innsbruck. These institutions acquired a power of literary consecration at a very early stage, on the basis of awards whose stated aim was to point influential individuals such as librarians and educators towards “quality” books. Second, based on an analysis and comparison of databases created on these book awards, I identify trends in the power relations between languages, countries, and publishers at the international level, enabling an assessment of the degree of autonomy of the international sub-field of children’s literature.

1. From a Transnational Network to the International Sub-Field of Children’s Literature

1.1. A Single Transnational Network Behind Three Institutions

5The International Youth Library in Munich was founded in 1949 by German journalist Jella Lepman (1891-1970). Lepman was an officer in the women’s section of the German Democratic Party who had been exiled to London during the 1930s due to her Jewish faith. She returned to occupied Germany after the war to work as an educational consultant to the US Army (Lepman 2002), and it was in this capacity that she organized a travelling exhibition of German and foreign children’s literature in the American occupied zone. The initiative was actively supported by the US government, as in the post-war period children’s books had become “the subject of a struggle between the two opposing blocs” (Mollier 2016: 13). Following the exhibition’s success, Lepman went on to found an International Youth Library, now housed in Blutenburg Castle on the outskirts of Munich. It had two main missions: to promote and advocate morally improving “good” books for young people, and to preserve this “international” children’s literature from a heritage perspective. Lepman was supported in her endeavours by a number of individuals and institutions, including German writer Erich Kästner, a close friend, and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Rockefeller Foundation. Lepman thus appears to have been securely embedded in the transnational network of Western economic and intellectual elites.

  • 1 In 1949, in response to this kind of criticism, the US launched the Petits livres d’or, a French ve (...)

6In 1951, two years after founding the library, Lepman invited some sixty individuals (authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, critics, educators, and other intellectuals from various countries) to attend an international congress at the library on the theme of “International Understanding Through Children’s Books”. At the close of the meeting, all of those present agreed on the need to promote international intellectual cooperation with regard to children’s books, as a result of which Lepman proposed the creation of an organization independent from the International Youth Library: the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). A committee was established with the primary task of organizing a preliminary meeting, chaired by Swiss publisher Hans Sauerländer, who received funding from the Swiss government and the Swiss foundation Pro Juventute to hold such a meeting in Zurich in October 1953. The main topic of debate was the arrival of American comic books in Europe, and the need to steer young people towards “good” books1. The creation of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, to be presented by IBBY, was suggested as a way to showcase recently published “quality” books. The 1953 congress was well attended, with over two hundred people present, notably including Enzo Petrini, a professor at the University of Florence who was to play a major role in the creation of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the third key institution in the international sub-field of children’s literature.

7IBBY’s 1956 congress, held in Stockholm, marked a new phase in its transnationalization. Since the early days of the organization, German, Swiss, and Scandinavian members had been over-represented on the executive committee. Following calls for broader representation, IBBY adopted a rule that the committee could consist of any number of members, but with a maximum of two representatives of any single nationality. The new committee thus represented the seven nationalities (Austrian, West German, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss, and Yugoslavian) that made up IBBY at the time. It should be noted that members of the organization participated in a personal capacity, and not as official representatives of their national governments. IBBY’s founding members thus included individuals who came from countries with diametrically opposed regimes, such as those led by Franco and Tito. They were however permitted, and in some cases clearly encouraged, to participate in the organization by their national governments. Just as Yugoslavia wanted to display a non-aligned stance after the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, Spain sought to end its international isolation by aligning itself with the West.

  • 2 The International Publishers Association was founded in 1896 in Paris by the leading publishers of (...)

8Spaniard José Miguel Azaola’s involvement with IBBY illustrates the complex situation in which a number of Spanish Catholics found themselves on the international stage. Catholicism was one of the pillars of the legitimacy of Franco’s power in Spain, giving the Catholic Church and all of its offshoots a consecrating power in the Francoist political and institutional space (Moreno Pestaña 2013). Azaola (1917-2007) was a leading figure in the Basque Catholic intellectual milieu whose international standing and Catholic network abroad helped him become a member of the International Publishers Association2, and then to be invited to the founding meetings of IBBY, before becoming its first vice-president from 1953 to 1962. Franco’s government was supportive of Azaola’s international activities. His appointment in 1953 as Secretary General of the Board of Directors of the Instituto Nacional del Libro Español (INLE)—the main Francoist institution for supporting book publishing and reading policies—cemented his institutionalization and facilitated a transfer of symbolic capital from transnational spaces to the Franco regime.

9The 1958 congress was held in Florence, and it is this meeting that explains the close ties that have existed between IBBY and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair since its creation. One of the main organizers was university professor Enzo Petrini, who was elected president of IBBY during the event, and who decided to invite his network of Italian publishers to Florence. For the first time at an IBBY congress, this led to meetings between foreign publishers, resulting in sales negotiations over translation rights. Italian publishers saw there was a need to promote such meetings, and after the congress a working group was set up in Bologna under the name of Progetto Fiera. In 1963 the group organized a trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where they found that the children’s publishing sector occupied a very small space, and thus decided to start a specialist meeting in Italy.

10The group wanted to establish an event that would attract the public as well as professionals and specialists. In April 1964, the first International Exhibition of Children’s Book Illustration thus took place in Bologna, with around thirty Italian publishers in attendance, along with a handful of Swedish, Austrian, Swiss, French, and British publishers. The event was so successful that in 1965 it was renamed the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The openly commercial nature of the event in no way weakened its ties with IBBY and the International Youth Library in Munich. On the contrary, it was precisely through their joint development that they acquired their prestige and their consecrating role on the international stage. The Hans Christian Andersen Award has been awarded by IBBY at Bologna since the very first fair, and the ties between them are also evident in other ways. Since 1971, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has published an illustrated catalogue of the authors selected for their illustrators’ exhibition, the cover of which is illustrated every other year by the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for illustration, and IBBY members are routinely found on the various juries and organizing committees involved in the event.

11The book fair also has a close relationship with the International Youth Library in Munich. In 1957, Walter Scherf (1920-2010) took over the running of the library from Jella Lepman. Like most IBBY members, Scherf attended the fair in Bologna on an annual basis (Grilli 2013), and in 1969, as director of the Library, he decided to set up a stand to promote it, and to buy two hundred titles a year from the selection of books offered by publishers. Since 1986, this selection has been published in an English-language catalogue called The White Ravens, which has become a consecrating tool for children’s books at the international level. The books are no longer selected by librarians from Munich directly purchasing books at Bologna. Instead, publishers send their titles to Munich, where an international jury of twenty children’s literature specialists (librarians, booksellers, critics, educators, and academics) make the selection. The catalogue is published annually during the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

1.2. IBBY: The Development of an International Institution of Children’s Literature

12In 1960, IBBY underwent a reorganization, turning itself from a transnational network of individuals participating in a personal capacity into an international institution made up of National Sections. This change was primarily driven by funding problems, as state support (from the Swiss government) and private donations (from Pro Juventute, and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations) were declining, while the congresses were becoming more and more popular. At the 1960 congress in Luxembourg, the executive committee thus decided on a reorganization:

“As the founders and first members of IBBY met in Munich, and one year later in Zurich, the emphasis was on personalities from various countries who were very interested in child and children’s literature and who personally joined the association founded by Jella Lepman. However, in order to be more than just one more organization and to stimulate genuine international co-operation, the foundation of National Sections, which were to see to it that the goals of the international organization were promoted within their countries, was proposed shortly thereafter. Each member country is ‘an official but independent member of the Board’, encouraged to initiate and carry out individual projects” (Bamberger et al. 1973: 56).

13Each National Section was expected to make a financial contribution to supporting the organization, and a system of dues was established based on each country’s level of development. The journal Bookbird was founded in 1963 to facilitate co-operation between the National Sections, and continues to report on their activities (exhibitions, conferences, congresses, and awards) to this day. Although presented as being independent of nation states, most of the sections were gradually supported by their national governments and in some cases even institutionalized. The French section of IBBY, for example, is now represented by the Bibliothèque nationale de France. In just four years, between 1960 and 1964, a total of thirty-four National Sections were created. The proceedings of the 1964 IBBY congress in Madrid report that the French Section was created that year, along with fifteen other National Sections, and at the same congress the Hans Christian Andersen Award was awarded for the first time to a French author, René Guillot. France was one of the last major Western children’s book markets to join IBBY. Its late entry, and the complicated genesis of the French section of IBBY, were the result of struggles for influence between various French cultural institutions (Marcoin 2012; Guijarro Arribas 2020b).

14In 1964, along with the French section, IBBY added National Sections from seven Latin American countries: Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Their creation was supported by Spanish philologist Carmen Bravo-Villasante (1918-1994), who strove to strengthen IBBY’s ties with the cultural institutions of Francoist Spain. Bravo-Villasante was a children’s writer who is considered by Spanish historiographers to be the country’s first historian of children’s literature. Until the 1970s, she was responsible for all of the articles on children’s literature in the INLE journal El Libro Español. It was from within the institutions of the Francoist dictatorship that she was able to secure a monopoly over the academic spaces dedicated to children’s literature. In the early 1960s, Bravo-Villasante’s position at the INLE and close relationship with Azaola led to her joining the Spanish section of IBBY. During the same period, she also established an Ibero-American network of book professionals through the courses on children’s literature that she taught at the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica, which gave her a platform for encouraging and championing the creation of the Latin American National Sections. These acts of generosity, viewed as long-term investments, had a clearly understood symbolic value, as they enabled Bravo-Villasante to be elected IBBY vice-president in 1966. This strategy for accumulating symbolic capital strengthened her position and that of Spanish children’s books in both the Spanish-speaking world and within IBBY.

15The 1960s also saw IBBY seek to move closer to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a bid to secure more international recognition and additional financial support, since in this period at the height of the Cold War, UNESCO offered funding to various international cultural institutions (Bustamante 2014). The creation of the National Sections and a strategic discursive shift from a focus on children’s moral improvement to promoting universalism and peace resulted in IBBY being admitted to UNESCO as a category C consultative organization in 1963, with an official UNESCO representative subsequently attending the 1964 congress in Madrid.

16Over the course of the 1960s, a transnational network of Western individuals focusing on children’s moral improvement thus gradually transformed into organized international institutions with a significant power of literary consecration. I will now turn to describing and analysing the mechanisms of this power and the issues involved.

2. The Symbolic Capital and International Value of Children’s Books

2.1. The “Little Nobel Prize” of Children’s Literature

17The Hans Christian Andersen Award, often dubbed the “Little Nobel Prize”, may not have the universal recognition or impact of the Nobel Prize in Literature (Casanova 2004: 150), but for writers and illustrators it is the highest honour in children’s literature. The award was established by IBBY in 1953, and Jella Lepman served as the first jury president. José Miguel Azaola, who presided over the jury from 1962 to 1970, described Lepman’s presidency as responding to the need for a transfer of symbolic capital: “above all, the Hans Christian Andersen Award needed the moral and intellectual prestige that [Jella Lepman] was supremely qualified to bestow on it” (Bamberger et al. 1973: 87).

18In his “Souvenirs du prix Hans-Christian Andersen”, Azaola describes the somewhat chaotic beginnings of the award, in terms of the composition of the jury and its meetings (Bamberger et al. 1973: 88-89). It was originally presented solely to a recently published work, as a way of showcasing “good” books. But at the 1960 congress in Luxembourg, because Lepman was unwell and the jury was unable to meet, she contrived to give the award to the entire body of work of one of her very close friends, the German writer Erich Kästner. Lepman wrote to several people asking them to comment on this choice, and those who were in agreement immediately formed an informal jury. This was the first time that the award had been given to an author in recognition of their entire body of work. That same year, Azaola, one of the people whom Lepman had consulted in writing, was appointed to replace her as jury president, and at his instigation the decision was taken to henceforth present the award to an author in recognition of their entire body of work, in line with the Nobel Prize in Literature. Since 1966, the award has been presented to both a writer and an illustrator.

Table 1. Hans Christian Andersen Awards by winner nationality

Country (by winner nationality)

Number of writers’ awards (1956-2020)

Number of illustrators’ awards (1966-2020)

Argentina

1

X

Australia

1

1

Austria

1

1

Brazil

2

1

China

1

X

Czechoslovakia/Czech Rep.

1

4

Denmark

1

2

Finland

1

X

France

1

1

Germany

2

4

Iran

X

1

Ireland

1

X

Israel

1

X

Italy

1

1

Japan

3

2

Netherlands

1

1

New Zealand

1

X

Norway

1

X

Poland

X

1

Russia

X

1

Soviet Union

X

1

Spain

1

X

Sweden

2

X

Switzerland

1

3

United Kingdom

3

2

United States

6

1

Awards presented since 1956 to writers and 1966 to illustrators, up to 2020.

Source: website of the International Board on Books for Young People.

Table 2. Nobel Prize in Literature by laureate nationality

Country (by winner nationality)

Nobel Prize in Literature (1901-2020)

France

15

United States

13

United Kingdom

11

Germany

8

Sweden

8

Spain

6

Italy

6

Poland

5

Ireland

4

Soviet Union

3

Prizes awarded between 1901 and 2020.

Source: website of the Swedish Academia.

19Table 1 shows the number of Hans Christian Andersen Awards by the nationality of the winning writers and illustrators, from the creation of the awards up to 2020. If we compare these data with those for the Nobel Prize, the ten most awarded nationalities are also present (see Table 2). However, while France leads the way in terms of its number of Nobel laureates, only one French writer has received the Hans Christian Andersen Award. American writers top its list of winners with six awards, followed by those from the UK. At first glance, the international recognition of French literature reflected in the Nobel Prize does not therefore seem to apply to French writers of children’s literature.

20Most significantly, however, the dual presentation of the award to both writers and illustrators reveals a difference between the two in terms of national prestige: the award has been presented to five American writers but only one American illustrator, with German and Czech illustrators topping the list of winners. Czech illustrators, particularly those from the Prague school, have a long history in children’s publishing. In the 1930s, French publisher Paul Faucher (1898-1967), who founded the Père Castor publishing house, maintained close ties with many Czech illustrators who inspired his work, and even married one of them, Lida Durdikova (1899-1955) (Payraud-Barat 2001).

21As such, while the table of Hans Christian Andersen Award winners is enlightening, this is less because it documents a somewhat vague international classification than because it highlights a specific feature of international consecration in children’s literature: as the following analysis shows, it is through the established role of illustration and the specific hierarchies at work in this sphere that a relative autonomy is most effectively exercised.

2.2. The White Ravens Lists: Indicators of Linguistic Dominance and Publishing Concentration

22The White Ravens catalogues, produced by the International Youth Library in Munich, allow for a more in-depth analysis by language, country, and publisher. Although they are not book awards as such, Marc Verboord (2011) has shown that it is entirely possible to analyse logics of cultural consecration by studying lists of books selected by legitimating bodies. Since 1986, the International Youth Library in Munich has published, in English, an annual catalogue of recommended books. Two databases have been created from these catalogues: one for the period 1993-2007, which includes a total of 3,557 books, and the other for the period 2015-2018, which includes a total of 815 books. Both are available on dedicated websites, but present the major drawback of a lack of standardized vocabulary, meaning that the name of a publisher (or its Western transcription) may be written differently from one book to another, making empirical research impossible. It was therefore necessary to create new databases from these existing resources.

Fig. 2. Share of White Ravens books by language of publication

Fig. 2. Share of White Ravens books by language of publication

Source: website of the International children’s digital library and The White Ravens database, International youth library foundation.

23Figure 2 shows the share of White Ravens books by language of publication. In the 1990s and 2000s, the catalogues were dominated by English, German, and French. Although the translation market is without doubt dominated by English, in the White Ravens data there is only a small gap between these languages. The gap has however increased significantly in recent years, with English maintaining a steady dominance (around 18% of the books selected), and French and German losing 3 and 7 percentage points respectively. This decrease is explained by the growing share of dominated but increasingly represented languages, such as Polish, Korean, and Persian, and of hyper-dominated languages (“Other languages” in the figure).

24In order to understand the steady position of English, the rise of Spanish, and the decline of French, we need to introduce an analysis by country (Figure 3). As Spain’s share has decreased (1.5 percentage points), the increase in the share of books published in Spanish is explained by greater representation from Latin American countries. This is a direct consequence of the growing internationalization strategy pursued by the International Youth Library in Munich. French is declining, but less so than German, allowing it to move up into second place. Like Spain, while France’s share has fallen, this decrease is compensated for by the other countries in the French-speaking world, as we can see by cross-referencing data on countries and languages: while the shares of Canada and Switzerland have fallen, this decline does not affect French-language books. Conversely, Belgium’s share is increasing due to books in French. As a result, since the 1990s there has therefore been a rebalancing of prestige between the co-official languages of these countries. Books in French accounted for one-sixth of Swiss and one-fifth of Canadian White Ravens over the period 1993-2007, but for half of Swiss and Canadian selected titles over the period 2015-2018.

Fig. 3. Share of White Ravens books by country

Fig. 3. Share of White Ravens books by country

Source: website of the Biblioteca Salaborsa Ragazzi.

25Finally, the countries whose share has increased the most are the dominant countries of the English-speaking world: there has been an increase of just under one percentage point for the UK and more than one percentage point for the US, with the latter moving from seventh to third place.

  • 3 Électre is a French database which provides booksellers with bibliographic data.

26This rapid rise is undoubtedly down to the ever-increasing dominance of English over the global market for publishing and translating children’s literature. If we look at the source languages of translated titles in the French children’s sector, we find that the supremacy of English is greater than for adult literature: of the 1,850 translated children’s titles published in France in 2016, 1,421 (77%) were originally published in English, with German, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish lagging far behind (Guijarro Arribas 2022). This dominance is also growing: if we compare the current figures with those for the children’s sector in the 1990s, derived by Gisèle Sapiro and Anaïs Bokobza from the Électre database3 (2008), we see a significant decline in certain languages in favour of the growing dominance of English that has accompanied the internationalization of the children’s market: English has risen from 32% to 77%, while German has dropped from 30% to 5%. The acceleration of Anglophone domination is due in particular to the success of young adult fiction (Guijarro Arribas 2021).

27The consecrating body represented by the White Ravens is not therefore impervious to changes in the global book market that favour the hyperdominance of English. Such an impact has however remained limited. This relative autonomy is due to the predominance of illustrated books in the White Ravens catalogues. Of the total books selected for the period 1993-2007, just over 80%, or 2,897 out of 3,357, were illustrated titles (across all illustrated genres, including picture books, non-fiction, and graphic novels). Even among the American titles selected for the White Ravens catalogues in 2015-2018, only fifteen out of forty-five were not illustrated books. While the market is thus driving the US forward as a dominant nation in children’s literature, the transnational consecrating bodies impose a partially effective filter through their focus on illustrated books.

Table 3. Number of White Ravens books by publisher, condensed list (1993-2007)

Position

Publisher

Head office (City)

Country

1993-2007

1

L’École des loisirs

Paris

France

36

2

Hanser

Munich

Germany

34

3

Beltz & Gelberg

Weinheim

Germany

33

4

Fukuinkan

Tokyo

Japan

33

5

Bonnier-Carlsen

Stockholm

Sweden

33

6

Kaisei-sha

Tokyo

Japan

32

7

A. Mondadori Ragazzi

Milan

Italy

29

8

Cappelen

Oslo

Norway

27

9

Anaya

Madrid

Spain

25

10

Viking

New York

United States

24

11

Scholastic

New York

United States

24

12

Gallimard Jeunesse

Paris

France

23

13

SM

Madrid

Spain

22

14

Kodansha

Tokyo

Japan

22

15

Sauerländer

Aarau

Switzerland

22

16

Høst & Søn

Copenhagen

Denmark

22

17

Patakēs

Athens

Greece

22

18

Carlsen

Hamburg

Germany

21

19

Macmillan

London

United Kingdom

21

20

Forum

Copenhagen

Denmark

19

21

Querido

Amsterdam

Netherlands

19

22

Rabén & Sjögren

Stockholm

Sweden

19

23

Albin Michel Jeunesse

Paris

France

18

24

Eriksson & Lindgren

Stockholm

Sweden

18

25

Oetinger

Hamburg

Germany

17

26

La Joie de Lire

Geneva

Switzerland

17

27

Jungbrunnen

Vienna

Austria

17

28

Albratros

Prague

Czech Republic

17

29

Nagel & Kimche

Zurich

Switzerland

16

30

Ravensburger Bunchverlag

Ravensburg

Germany

16

31

Fatatrac

Florence

Italy

16

32

Hammer

Wuppertal

Germany

15

33

Piemme Junior

Casale Monferrato

Italy

15

34

Dutton

New York

United States

15

35

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

New York

United States

15

36

Otava

Helsinki

Finland

15

37

Tammi

Helsinki

Finland

15

38

[Kānūn-i Parwariš-i Fikrī-i Kūdakān wa Nauğawānān]

Tehran

Iran

15

39

O’Brien Press

Dublin

Irlande

15

40

Akane Shobo

Tokyo

Japan

15

41

Aschehoug

Oslo

Norway

15

42

Tafelberg

Cape Town

South Africa

15

43

Neugebauer

Gossau

Switzerland

14

44

Diogenes

Zurich

Switzerland

14

45

La Galera

Barcelona

Spain

14

46

Santillana-Alfaguara

Madrid

Spain

14

47

Syros

Paris

France

14

48

Seuil Jeunesse

Paris

France

14

49

Flammarion

Paris

France

14

50

University of Queensland Press

Brisbane

Australia

14

51

Casterman

Paris

France

13

52

Andersen Press

London

United Kingdom

13

53

La courte échelle

Montréal

Canada

13

54

Kastaniōtēs

Athens

Greece

13

55

Salani

Florence

Italy

13

56

Alfabeta

Stockholm

Sweden

13

57

Det Norske Samlaget

Oslo

Norway

13

58

Lemniscaat

Rotterdam

Netherlands

13

59

Leopold

Amsterdam

Netherlands

13

60

Rouergue

Rodez

France

12

61

Atlantis

Zurich

Switzerland

12

62

Edebé

Barcelona

Spain

12

63

Aufbau

Berlin

Germany

12

64

Annick Press

Toronto

Canada

12

65

HarperCollins

New York

United States

12

66

Branner og Korch

Copenhagen

Denmark

12

Source: The White Ravens database.

28While from a linguistic point of view, the White Ravens seem to be caught between consecration of the hyperdominance of English and relative autonomy from it, the same is true of publishers: although the White Ravens lists are still dominated by the big, established publishers, the concentration of symbolic consecration does seem to be in decline, at least in some countries.

29Table 3 above looks at the dominance of publishers in the White Ravens catalogues for the period 1993-2007. As the complete list is very long, I have limited it to publishers with more than twelve selected titles. The dominant publishers over this period have some common features: most are big publishing houses, and some now belong to groups or have formed one. This is the case for the German publisher Beltz, the Italian publisher Mondadori (which includes Italy’s two main children’s publishers, Mondadori Ragazzi and Piemme Junior), France’s Gallimard, Japan’s Kodansha, and Spain’s Anaya and SM. The list also includes big publishing houses that have specialized in children’s books from their creation, such as l’École des loisirs, the Japanese publishers Kaisei-sha and Fukuinkan, and the Swedish publisher Rabén & Sjögren. Germany’s Hanser, in second place, is the only one of the dominant publishers that is a medium-sized publishing house, with a children’s department (established in 1993) that is considered in Germany to be innovative and avant-garde, especially in terms of illustration (Lapanouse 2017).

30Most of these publishers have a long history in children’s books and have gained recognition through publishing illustrated titles, winning awards for illustration or special commendations from other international consecrating bodies. Fukuinkan’s two star illustrators, Suekichi Akaba and Mitsumasa Anno, received the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1980 and 1984 (Inoue 2012), Kaisei-sha has won six awards for illustration at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and Gallimard Jeunesse has won ten awards at Bologna, primarily for its illustrated non-fiction books. Illustration and translation (in both directions) are therefore essential to the output of almost all of these publishers, which also consolidate their prestige by maintaining close ties with one another through personal relationships and book translations. L’École des loisirs is a case in point, having built its recognition on the back of a transfer of the symbolic capital of illustrated books: in its early days it published solely translations of internationally renowned illustrated titles (Guijarro Arribas 2022). These included translations of the work of Mitsumasa Anno and other illustrators originally published by Fukuinkan, with which the French publisher had developed close ties since its creation in 1965. Similarly, since 1992, Amsterdam-based publisher Querido has led the way in translating L’École des loisirs’s picture books from French into Dutch (Van Coillie 2003).

31Looking at the data for the period 2015-2018, we can see that no single publisher leads the way for the dominant countries and languages, and that many smaller houses, all specializing in illustrated books, have entered the fray. In the case of France, for example, while five publishers (L’École des loisirs, Gallimard Jeunesse, Albin Michel Jeunesse, Syros, and Le Seuil), used to account for more than a third of the titles selected, they now account for only a tenth. The entry of newer, smaller publishers specializing in illustrated books further confirms the centrality of illustration: of the forty-six French books selected for the catalogues, only eight are not illustrated titles.

32Looking at the breakdown of titles between publishers, a distinctive pattern emerges among those from the US and UK, with a significant dispersal of symbolic capital among the many publishing houses listed in the White Ravens catalogues. Even the seven Anglophone publishers with twelve or more selected titles are high up the list thanks to their subsidiaries in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, and South Africa—and these subsidiaries are recognized for their illustrated books. Only five of the twenty-four titles from the big New York-based publisher Scholastic, for example, were published in the US.

33Analysis of the White Ravens catalogues thus confirms that illustrated books represent the main selection and classification standard of the International Youth Library in Munich, and reveals a lesser dominance of English and the UK than that seen in the global translation market data. Conversely, the position of French and German, and the smaller markets of Northern Europe (and more recently Eastern Europe), is strengthened by this consecrating body.

2.3. Bologna Children’s Book Fair Awards

34The awards presented at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair demonstrate the central importance of illustration and relative resistance to the dominance of English, through their strong consecration of French and the big Parisian publishing houses. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a body of literary consecration in its own right, as it presents its own awards. Since the fair was first held, these awards have proved to be a means of both developing the value of children’s literature and promoting the fair itself. The initiative has in fact been imitated by other book fairs with a focus on children’s literature, such as the Montreuil Children’s Book Fair in France, which created its “Pépites du Salon” (i.e. the Gold Nuggets of the fair) on the same model.

Table 4. Number of awards won by country of publisher at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair between 1966 and 1994

Country

Number of awards 1966-1994

Switzerland

16

France

14

Germany/West Germany

12

United Kingdom

12

Japan

7

Italy

6

Czechoslovakia / Czech. Rep.

5

Soviet Union

5

United States

4

Austria

4

Iran

2

Australia

2

Spain

2

Belgium

2

Netherlands

1

Denmark

1

Portugal

1

Source: website of the Biblioteca Salaborsa Ragazzi.

35In 1965, two awards were created at Bologna to recognize writers and illustrators, following the model of IBBY’s Hans Christian Andersen Award, which has been awarded during the fair since it was first held. However, when the fair shifted its focus to illustrated books in 1966, these awards were replaced by two others dedicated to illustrated titles: the Grafico award, decided by an international jury of illustrators, and the Critici in Erba award, decided by a jury of children. In 1968, the Grafico award was split into two age categories: one for children, and one for young adults. Table 4 shows the number of awards won by country of publisher for the period 1966-1994, during which these three illustration awards were presented. The list is dominated by publishers from Switzerland, France, Germany, and the UK. During the first six years of the fair, Swiss and Italian publishers, who attended in the greatest numbers, took home most of the awards, but as more foreign publishers began to attend in the 1970s, the diversity of the winners increased. Publishers from what was then West Germany often won awards. From the 1980s onwards, French publishers won an award almost every year, with Gallimard Jeunesse being particularly successful (six awards during this period). This reflects the professional recognition of French illustration at that time, especially in the non-fiction genre, in which Gallimard Jeunesse was a leading light (Guijarro Arribas 2022).

Fig. 4. Bologna Children’s Book Fair awards from 1966 to 2017 by publisher nationality

Fig. 4. Bologna Children’s Book Fair awards from 1966 to 2017 by publisher nationality

Source: website of the Biblioteca Salaborsa Ragazzi.

36Figure 4 shows the number of awards presented at Bologna from 1966 to 2017 by nationality of publisher and language of publication. Figure 3 clearly shows that French publishers were the most successful in Bologna across the categories as a whole, well ahead of their Swiss, German, British, and US counterparts. It is also important to note the crucial role played by co-editions, particularly for Swiss, German, and Austrian publishers. Co-editions are almost always illustrated books, as these are very expensive to publish and this model enables the costs to be shared. It is the publishers that are most active in international co-edition publishing that have won the most awards at Bologna. As co-editions are a vector of greater dissemination and better promotion of books at the international level, co-editions are therefore more likely to be recognized by international legitimating bodies. Co-edition publishing has thus become a favoured means of international consecration of a book, along with its authors, the original publisher and, to a lesser extent, the other publishers (Guijarro Arribas 2020a).

37Among the French winners, Gallimard Jeunesse—a pioneer in co-edition publishing—leads the list with ten awards, seven of which were received before 2000, followed by Seuil Jeunesse with seven, the first of which it won in 1996. The leaders are therefore two big children’s publishing houses created within two literary publishers that have significant international literary recognition (Sapiro 2010: 45)—a prerequisite for any co-edition project. Of the twenty-one French publishers presented with awards over this period, thirteen were small independent publishers specializing in illustrated titles, often classified as avant-garde, and winning only one or two awards, such as Éditions MeMo and the now-defunct publishers Ipomée, Le sourire qui mord, and Éditions Être.

Conclusion

38The origins of the creation and development of the International Youth Library in Munich, IBBY, and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair are closely linked. These bodies were originally supported by the same transnational and translinguistic network of actors who, in the late 1940s, were leading lights in initiatives in their respective countries to promote and improve moral standards in children’s literature. While they never merged, they shared practices and resources, and jointly gained recognition to the point of forming an essential space for the consecration of children’s books at the international level. Children’s literature can thus be seen as providing a window onto the transnationalization and internationalization of the mechanisms of literary consecration. It allows us to analyse transfers of symbolic capital as the product of interlinked local (national) and global strategies.

39These three consecrating bodies gradually formed an international sub-field of children’s literature that operates relatively autonomously from nation states and markets (Sapiro 2013: 84). This sub-field preceded the formation of a global market in children’s publishing, along with the majority of the national sub-fields, which, as in France, largely drew on international development (Guijarro Arribas 2022). International (UNESCO) and national cultural institutions have played an increasingly important role in this space of struggle and consecration, thus revealing the power relations between nations and between languages. As such, its book awards and lists (the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair awards, and the White Ravens catalogues) are powerful indicators of literary consecration. Their analysis provides insight into how the value of children’s books is created at the international level, showing that it responds to specific mechanisms, different to those seen in relation to books produced for adults. Illustration plays a leading role, and the largely unequal distribution of symbolic capital reveals the relative autonomy of children’s books from other publishing sectors.

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Notes

1 In 1949, in response to this kind of criticism, the US launched the Petits livres d’or, a French version of the Little Golden Books series, as a higher quality and morally improving export (Boulaire 2016).

2 The International Publishers Association was founded in 1896 in Paris by the leading publishers of the time. Its original aim was to ensure that countries around the world respected copyright and implemented the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Now based in Geneva, it has become an international federation of national publishers’ associations. Its main aims still include promoting and defending copyright.

3 Électre is a French database which provides booksellers with bibliographic data.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1
Légende Illustration by Edmond Dulac for the tale “Le Rossignol”. In Andersen Hans Christian (1911). La reine des neiges et quelques autres contes. Paris, H. Piazza: 94.
Crédits Source: Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France (French National Library).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/bssg/docannexe/image/1248/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 706k
Titre Fig. 2. Share of White Ravens books by language of publication
Crédits Source: website of the International children’s digital library and The White Ravens database, International youth library foundation.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/bssg/docannexe/image/1248/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 19k
Titre Fig. 3. Share of White Ravens books by country
Légende Source: website of the Biblioteca Salaborsa Ragazzi.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/bssg/docannexe/image/1248/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 21k
Titre Fig. 4. Bologna Children’s Book Fair awards from 1966 to 2017 by publisher nationality
Crédits Source: website of the Biblioteca Salaborsa Ragazzi.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/bssg/docannexe/image/1248/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 47k
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Référence électronique

Delia Guijarro Arribas, « From Campaigns to Improve the Moral Standards of Children’s Books to their Literary Consecration: The Emergence of an International Sub-Field »Biens Symboliques / Symbolic Goods [En ligne], 11 | 2022, mis en ligne le 21 décembre 2022, consulté le 31 janvier 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/bssg/1248 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/bssg.1248

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Auteur

Delia Guijarro Arribas

Lecturer in sociology, université Paris Nanterre, Department of Publishing and Book Trade (Saint-Cloud), CRESPPA-CSU

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