Borders of Children’s Literature: The Reception of Picture Books in Italy and the Question of Reading Aloud

Annalisa Sezzi


The article opens with the concept of the “world republic of childhood” without geographical and political borders, as conceived by Hazard and promoted after the Second World War. According to O’Sullivan (2004, 2005), this concept of childhood, and consequently of children’s literature, is idealistic and does not address real problems connected with the process of translation. As a matter of fact, translating a book for children from one language into another is not as easy as it might seem: frontiers and custom houses do exist (Bertea 2000: 94). A peculiar cas limite is the reception of the picture book in Italy. Introduced thanks to the pioneering work of the Emme Edizioni publishing house and its translators, the genre was later rejected. Italy had to wait a decade to see the same and similar picture books republished, but it is still paying the price for having initially closed its borders, despite the fact that the translators had paid customs- and import duties. These were determined not only by the child image dominant in the Italian society, but also by the different image of the adult, who was meant to read picture books aloud and who was ready to put on a performance for the child recipient (Oittinen 2000). In particular, the article investigates examples of the discrepancy between the adult and child images of the source and target texts selected from American and English picture books and their Italian translations.

Słowa kluczowe: children’s literature in Italy, picture book, reading aloud, translation

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