Series introduction

In research on children’s literature, there are recurring questions concerning Bildung processes. However, discussions on children’s literature and Bildung are influenced and shaped by ever-shifting historical and political contexts. Today, as current developments in media and a focus on political awareness influence children’s literature, there is a call for renewed attention on the question: What is children’s literature supposed to be and do?

Digitalization’s immense influence on children’s literature is evident in the increased visual and verbal text forms with their various demands on reader participation. Examples from the political agenda range from an outspoken critique of the lack of multicultural representation to the need for sustainable development. How do such issues affect children’s literature and discussions on the role of literature in the development of responsible and reflective citizens?

In a Norwegian context, the political agenda is institutionalized through the white paper The Power of CultureMeld. St. 8 (2018–2019) Report to the Storting (Norwegian Parliament), which states that art and culture for children are expected to provide cultural formation and prepare children for participation in democratic, social and economic processes. Furthermore, the white paper highlights aesthetic quality.

In the spring of 2020 Nordic Journal of Childlit Aesthetics invited contributions to a discussion on children’s literature and Bildung processes in view of digitalization and political concern, thus aiming to explore the mixed and coexisting understandings of children’s literature. This special issue presents the responses to this invitation. The articles explore a diverse range of subjects. Some of the articles originate from the research project Bildung processes in children’s literature initiated by the Norwegian Institute for Children’s Books in 2020.