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Bobby Approved (v 3.2)

Education Programme

The digitised European historical children's book collection featured on this site is the key resource in the delivery of an education programme.

The programme is particularly aimed at teachers, students, literary historians and researchers. It will focus on language, style, illustrations and book production, examining both similarities and differences between books produced in different European countries. European folk tales will be looked at in detail comparing style and ethos between the different European examples.

The purpose of this Education Programme is to provide a starting point for those wishing to discover European historic children's literature. The programme also includes lists of currently available resources, including books, journals and web sites. This site contains a valuable links page that will enable users to access individual collections as well as bibliographic and educational resources.

This education programme will focus on four main themes:

The study of historical children's literature is growing and involves the work of universities, libraries, book dealers, and private individuals. We hope that you will find the CHILDE web site is a value to you in exploring this fascinating field.


The following text and journals have been recommended by the CHILDE partners as an introductory reading list on the theme of historical children's literature.


  • Avery, Gillian and Briggs, Julia (1989) Children and their books: a celebration of the work of Iona and Peter Opie, Oxford: Clarendon
  • Carpenter, H and Prichard, M (1984) The Oxford companion to children’s literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Carpenter, H (1985) Secret gardens: a study of the golden age of children’s literature, London: Allen and Unwin
  • Hunt, Peter (1995) An illustrated history of children’s literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Hurlimann, Bettina (1967) Three centuries of children’s books in Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press (Europaischer Kinderbucher in drei Jahrhunderten, translated by Brian Alderson)
  • Muir, Percy (1969) English Children’s books, London Batsford
  • Summerfield, Geoffrey (1984) Fantasy and reason: children’s literature in the eighteenth century, London: Methuen
  • Thwaite, Mary (1972) From primer to pleasure in reading: an introduction to the history of children’s books in England from the invention of printing to 1914… London: Library Association 2nd edition


  • Bookbird - A Journal of International Children’s Literature; IBBY Nonnenweg 12 Postfach, CH-4003 Basel Switzerland; ISSN 00067377; Published four times per year
  • Children’s Books History Society Newsletter;Secretary and joint editor Pat Garrett , 25 Field Way, Hoddesden, Herts. EN11 0QN; ISSN 0955-4289; Published four times per year
  • Children’s Literature Association Quarterly; Children’s Literature Association, P.O.Box 138, Battle Creek MI 49016 USA; ISSN 0885-042; Published four times per year
  • The Lion and the Unicorn; A critical journal of children’s literature; The John Hopkins University Press, Journals Division, 2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363 USA; ISSN 0147-2593; Published three times per year
  • Marvels and Tales; Journal of Fairy Tale studies; Wayne State University Press, Leonard N. Simons Building, 4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201 USA; ISSN 1521-4281; Published twice per year


  • Explorations into Children’s Literature; School of Literary and Communication Studies, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood Victoria 3125 Australia; ISSN 1034-9243; Published three times per year

Social and Cultural Context


Children's literature offers an insight into the condition of childhood in the past, as well as adult and institutional perspectives on and ideals of childhood. It is important to recognise that such an insight is partial however as it will depend on the limits of surviving texts and collections, as well as the cultural and moral constraints facing writers and artists at the time.

The CHILDE site is predominantly focused on visual imagery from a very small selection of historical children's books in the collections of the CHILDE project partners. However by using the search page on this site, in particular the subject and free text elements, it is possible to begin an exploration of the social and cultural condition of children in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

The following select bibliography, as well as the more extensive links page provides a valuable starting point for anyone wishing to extend their knowledge of children and childhood before the twentieth century.


  • Avery, Gillian (1975) A study of the heroes and heroines of children’s fiction 1770 1950, London: Hodder and Stoughton
  • Butts, Dennis (1992) Stories and society: children’s literature in its social context, London: Macmillan
  • Darton, F J Harvey (1982) Children’s books in England: five centuries of social life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ( 3rd revised edition edited by Brian Alderson)
  • Grylls, David (1978) Guardians and Angels: parents and children in nineteenth century literature, London: Faber

 Possible Practical Actions

  • Use Web site links, on the links page of this site, to search other web sites containing more extensive or complete digitised collections, e.g. The Hockliffe Collection - Make use of any e-mail facilities on these sites to seek further information, to consult experts, to possibly arrange visits or presentations.
  • Compare historical children's illustrations from this site with equivalent modern images of social and cultural issues, such as gender roles, poverty, rural and urban life.
  • Compare illustrations on this site under the same theme from different European countries, e.g. schools/education, employment, costume.
  • Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels appears in the CHILDE collection in English, Dutch, French and German translations, evidence of its truly international character. Consequently, it provides rich material for examining issues of travel; xenophobia; racism; sameness; difference etc. The images and extracts from the text - available on the Internet - allow students to explore their own reactions to people coming into their society from outside as tourists, immigrants, refugees etc.

  Historical literature in Europe and the dramatic arts


The changes affecting the social and cultural environment have a ripple effect on the fantasy world of children, anytime, anywhere. This web site allows us to show to today’s children, anywhere in the world, the images that have lived in the dreams of children in different places and in different times.

To observe the reaction of today’s children to the images created in the past for their peers and to images representing very different worlds and cultures would indeed be interesting.

  1. Using images to prompt dramatisation

    By following their imagination and the emotions triggered by the images shown on the site, the children would develop in turn an independent tale, completely separated from the original. Then, it will be the educator’s task to prompt the dramatisation of the story and compare it later on with the story that the image wanted to describe.


    Ducoudray, Gustave, Cent récits d’histoire de France, Knights joust at a tournament

    Hölder, Luise, Kleine Weltschichte von den ältesten bis auf die neuesten Zeiten, The boy leads the other two children in playing games with the pole, Two dogs stand at the leaders feet.

    Weisse, Christian Felix, Der Kinderfreund: ein Wochenblatt. 10. Theil, The giant is put on show, and is examined and stared at by the dwarves.

  2. Using images to analyse historical representations of theatre

From a different point of view, the Web site would be useful in order to analyse with the children how illustrators in different times represented theatre, as a place and scenic action, and to observe together the analogies and the differences compared to today.


Punch’s Opera, Punch hits Judy over the head with the stick

Brun, Élisabeth, Les roses de la sagesse:ou morale et plaisir, Women and children watch a puppet shadow theatre

Gellert, Christian Fürchtegott, Sämmtliche Fabeln und Erzählungen: in drei Büchern, The auditorium and stage of a theatre. The wealthy sit in a box, the poorer audience in the stalls, all await the performance.

Weisse, Christian Felix, Der Kinderfreunf: ein Wochenblatt. 8 Theil, Theatre scene: children pretend to be a ghost, other children follow it, whilst one is scared.


European Folk and Fairy Tales

  • General Information

Fairy tales are prose narratives, passed on either orally or in writing, in which the terms of reality are suspended and make-belief is seen as a matter of fact. Animals that talk and magical objects, fantasy journeys and miraculous transformations, punishment of evil and reward of the virtuous are among the typical elements recurring again and again.

Research work differentiates between folk tales and literary fairy tales. Whereas in the case of the former the author or narrator, date and place of origin and reason for their creation are often unknown and the tales have been changed repeatedly in the course of tradition, literary fairy tales can be traced back to definite authors who make more or less liberal use of the narrative form as well as of the characters and requisites of the folk tale genre.

It is however impossible to make a clear distinction because the collectors of folk tales, the brothers Grimm (Germany), Per Christen Asbjörnsen (Norway), Alexander Afanasjev (Russia), Joseph Jacobs (Ireland) and many others rendered the tales they had recorded largely in a highly literary and stylised form. The conventional view, therefore, of the folk tale being an anonymous collective creation of ‘the people’ has become untenable. On the contrary, all known folk tales relate back to literary sources or are the product of intensive reworking.

The European folk and fairy tales take their cues from a globally dispersed wealth of motifs and happenings which are then specifically re-formulated in the national literatures of the individual European countries. Early records exist particularly of Italian (Straparola, Le piacevoli notti, 1550-53) and French collections (Perrault, Histoires ou contes du temps passé (Stories and Fairy Tales of the Past), 1697). The Romantic movement of the 19th century generated not only a multitude of fairy tale fiction and collections but created, through the Fairy and Folk Tales of the brothers Grimm, a stylistic model which has since been applied universally to the European folk tale.


  • Bibliography

Bottigheimer, Ruth: Fairy Tales and Folk Tales. In: Hunt, Peter (ed.): International Companion Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. London/New York: Routledge 1996, 152-165

Klotz, Volker: Das europäische Kunstmärchen (The European Literary Fairy Tale). Stuttgart: Metzler 1985

Lüthi, Max: Das europäische Kunstmärchen. Form und Wesen (The European Literary Fairy Tale. Form and Essence). Tübingen: Francke 1992 (9th edition)

Perrot, Jean (ed.): Tricentenaire Charles Perrault. Les grands contes du XVIIe siècle et leur fortune littéraire (The Tricentenary of Charles Perrault. The Great Fairy Tales of the 17th Century and their Literary Wealth). Paris: in press editions 1998

Rölleke, Heinz: Die Märchen der Brüder Grimm. Quellen und Studien (The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Sources and Studies). Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag 2000

Soriano, Marc: Les Contes de Perrault (The Fairy Tales of Perrault). Paris: Gallimard 1969

Opie, I. and Opie P.: The Classic Fairy Tales. Oxford: University Press 1974

Zipes Jack: The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Oxford: University Press 2000


  • Websites

General information:

19th Century German stories:

Folk Tale and Fairy Tale Cyber Dictionary:

Fairy tale studies (linkcollection)

Grimm Brothers’ Home Page:


  • Possible practical actions

Fairy tales have not always been as valued as they are today. Until well into the 19th century they were the subject of fierce debates and were classified by their critics as trivial literature promoting superstition and subverting reality. After the fairy tale had been incorporated into the school syllabus and used as an educational discipline the pendulum swung in the opposite direction to such an extent that, towards the end of the 20th century, this form of literature has been greatly in demand for dream analysis and psychotherapy, moral education and solving existential crises. Caution is, however, called for, particularly for the sake of these marvellous, traditional stories themselves which should, first and foremost, be taken for what they are: splendidly narrated stories, rich in imagery and associations, appealing to the very young listeners and readers as well as finding resonance with an adult audience.

As such, fairy tales offer multiple reference points for didactic purposes, not only for school teaching but also for parent-child communication in the home. The literary educationalist Kaspar Spinner has formulated four principles to be observed:

1. The fairy tales reside first and foremost in the imagination and should be allowed to blossom there […]

2. The fairy tale enables people to cope with problems of everyday life under the protection of a symbolic guise. We should see this as an opportunity and not enforce a revealing dialogue! […]

3. The fairy tale takes on a particular significance in inter-cultural teaching because of its unifying, inter-textual references and its reserved realistic form […]

4. The proactive engagement with fairy tales, that is re-developing, rewriting and re-inventing them, colouring them, playing with them and setting them to music, is, justifiably, considered to be the most important educational work with fairy tales today. This should, however, not lead us into getting lost in pure activism and into taking creativity as a dispensation for thought.

Kaspar Spinner: Märchendidaktik heute. In: Märchen in Erziehung und Unterrricht heute (Fairy Tale Didactic Today. In: Fairy Tales in Education and Teaching) Kristin Wardetzky and Helga Zitzisperger (eds.). Rheine, Europäische Märchengesellschaft 1997, 62/63

Illustrations from old (and new) books of fairy tale add another, visual dimension to the narratives or reading texts: the pictures accompanying the fairy tales tell their own variant version of the action. In this way different meanings and interpretations are disclosed which can make comparison a highly fascinating process.

Moreover, the illustrations offer a wealth of complementary material in their detail and content. This means, not least, that the illustrations can give further and more pointed evidence of contemporary, national-cultural phenomena of the European countries in which they were created than the texts themselves.


  • Websites offering ideas and material for practical work with fairy tales

CLWG Children’s Literature Web Guide

Fairy Tale and Folk Tale Cyber Dictionary

Doucette Library of Teaching Resources

Marvels and tales

The Reader’s Corner, European Style Fairy Tales


  • Material for individual fairy tales

Cinderella Stories

The Beauty and the Beast home

Little Red Riding Hood Project home page

Vandergrift’s special interest page (Snow White)


Please note that the following section of the Education Programme is under review and will posted on the site shortly: