During the war, hardly any of the institutions of the nations involved are left untouched, and literature is no exception. There are two ways in which a war can affect literary production and literary content. First, one can expect a shift in the priorities and values of the society and the state during a military conflict. Non-military expenses may be cut, propaganda becomes central, and writers and publishers have to respond. Second, a recently ended war may form a part of the national historical narrative. National literature often takes on the task to elaborate and to disseminate this narrative. Focusing on education, socialization, and indoctrination, as children’s literature is wont to do, makes the latter a medium that is especially apt to answer both wartime and post-war challenges of the war.

Arguably, post-war literary representations of the war have generally been a more extensive phenomenon and definitely attracted much more attention from researchers. When working with representations of war in works for children, scholars primarily discuss the way the heroes, enemies and victims of war are depicted. Dozens of monographs and articles have been devoted to these topics. In most cases the subject is a post-war artistic reflection undertaken with the aim of conveying public consensus in assessing the past war (e.g. Zur 2010, The Representations 2014, Tan, Nelson 2022).

The transformation of children’s literature in wartime has been studied only sporadically and proved harder to understand. Our first question here is: to what extent and how exactly did the content of children’s literature change in wartime? Indeed, most of the research on the content of wartime children’s literature discusses its propaganda potential (Agnew, Fox 2001, Paris 2004; Marten 2012; Olivier-Messonnier 2012; Darr 2012; Paul, Johnston, Short 2016; Budgen 2018; Zunino 2019). However, some studies, by focusing on the entire body of children’s literature published during the war period, were able to show that its content could distance itself from pure military propaganda (Galway 2022). The issue of wartime censorship has also received some attention (e.g., Benner 2015; Sinibaldi 2016).

The interest in propaganda helped define a somewhat narrow spectrum of wartime situations that came into research focus. These are mainly major interstate military conflicts of the previous century, when readership among children was already well established, and the stakes of state propaganda were high. In contrast, there are practically no studies that address children’s literature during local wars, and conflicts prior to the 20th century (for a rare example, see Grenby 2008).

Beyond propaganda and censorship, -little evidence supports generalizations about the ways in which wartime disasters may impact children's literary processes. For instance, there are practically no studies of changes in wartime children’s literature in economic, institutional, and demographic terms. A complete survey is still required in this case. A better understanding of various historical examples of wartime transformations in children’s literary institutions and content paves the way for new questions. How profound can wartime impact on children’s literature be, in terms of both quantity and quality? Which wars have been discussed in children’s literature and which are left in silence, and why? Are the effects of the wartime transformations transient, or do they persist after the end of the war? Does the fate of military children’s literature depend on the outcome of the war? We invite interested authors to join our effort to fill the apparent gaps in the study of wartime children’s literature, and to discuss these questions in the special issue.

For this particular issue, we suggest mostly leaving aside post-war representations, and to address neglected aspects of wartime changes, including (but not limited to):

  • Literary content. The production of texts about the war and for the war: in what ways do the themes and plots of children’s literature change? What forms does militarist and pacifist propaganda assume?? What is told, and what remains silent?

  • Economy and publishing record. Нow does war affect the publication of children’s literature? Which publications are discarded (through military censorship or lack of printing resources)? Which are preserved, and which are intensified?

  • Wartime readership. How does war affect children’s reading, both in terms of accessibility of material, content, and contexts of reading.

  • Institutional structure. How does war transform the institutions involved in the production of children’s literature, for instance publishing, censorship, and criticism?

  • The demographic dimension. How does war affect authors? Who joins and who leaves the ranks of wartime writers?

  • Authors’ strategies. How do writers alter their behaviors? What books do they write? What books are reprinted? When do authors start writing about the war?

Proposals (approximately one page in length) should be sent by 15 January 2024 to Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein.. Final articles will be due on 10 June 2024.


  • Agnew, Kate and Fox, Geoff, Children at War: From the First World War to the Gul, Softcover, London, Continuum, 2001.
  • Benner, Julia Federkrieg, Kinder- und Jugendliteratur gegen den Nationalsozialismus 1933-1945, Wallstein, 2015.
  • Budgen, David, British children’s literature and the First World War: representations since 1914, London, Bloomsbury, 2018.
  • Campagnaro, Marnie, La Grande Guerra raccontata ai ragazzi, Donzelli, 2015.
  • Darr, Yael, “Nation Building and War Narratives for Children: War and Militarism in Hebrew 1940’s and 1950’s Children’s Literature”, Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, Vol. 48, No. 4, August 2012, 601-613.
  • Galway, Elizabeth A., The Figure of the Child in WWI American, British, and Canadian Children’s Literature: Farmer, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, New York, Routledge, 2022.
  • Grenby M. O., “Surely there is no British boy or girl who has not heard of the battle of Waterloo!” War and Children’s Literature in the Age of Napoleon. In: Elizabeth Goodenough and Andrea Immel, ed. Under Fire: Childhood in The Shadow Of War, Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 2008, pp.39-57.
  • Hamaide-Jager Eléonore, La Shoah en mots et en images. De Perec à la littérature de jeunesse, Rouen, PURH, 2023. DOI : 10.18574/nyu/9780814796078.001.0001
  • Marten, James (ed.), Children and Youth during the Civil War Era, New York, London, New York University Press, 2012. DOI : 10.18574/nyu/9780814796078.001.0001
  • Milkovitch-Rioux, Catherine et alii (ed.), Enfants en temps de guerre et littératures de jeunesse, XXe-XXIe siècles, actes du colloque des 18 et 19 octobre 2012, organisé par la Bibliothèque nationale de France, Centre national de la littérature pour la jeunesse, avec l'Université Blaise Pascal de Clermont-Ferrand, Centre de recherche sur les littératures et la sociopoétique, UBP-CELIS.
  • Paul, Lissa et alii (ed.), Children’s Literature and Culture of the First World War, New York, Routledge, 2016.
  • Olivier-Messonnier, Laurence, Guerre et littérature de jeunesse, 1913- 1919 : analyse des dérives patriotiques dans les périodiques pour enfants, L’Harmattan, 2012.
  • Paris, Michael, Over the Top: The Great War and Juvenile Literature in Britain, Westport, CT, Praeger, 2004.
  • Sinibaldi, Caterina, Between Censorship and Innovation: The Translation of American Comics during Italian Fascism, New Readings, 2016, Vol. 16, pp. 1-21.
  • Roig, Blanca-Ana et alii (ed.), The Representations of the Spanish Civil War in European children’s literature (1975-2008), Peter Lang Edition, Frankfurt am Main, 2014.
  • Tan, Fengxia, Nelson, Claudia, « Can You Hear My Cry?’ Representing War and Trauma in Picturebooks for Peace from China, South Korea, and Japan », International Research in Children’s Literature, February 2022, vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 1-14.
  • Zunino, Bérénice, Die Mobilmachung der Kinder im Ersten Weltkrieg Kriegskultur und illustrierte Kriegskinderliteratur im Deutschen Kaiserreich (1911–1918), Berlin, Peter Lang GmbH Internationaler Verlag, 2019.
  • Zur, Dafna, « Representations of the Korean War in North and South Korean Children’s Literature », In: Korea 2010: Politics, Economy, Society, 2010, p. 271–300.

[Quelle: Pressemitteilung]