Russian Children's Literature

Figure 1.-- A Russian reader has sent us a pagecfrom a text book publidhed in 2004--'Pictured Health ABC book'. It is mainly about basic healthcare for children 6-10 years old. The main character is a 8 year old boy who attends the 2nd grade and the book tells us that 'in some things is more clever than even grandpa'. The illustration shows him at home, notice the slippers that children often wear at home. The illustrators are Painters Denis Belousov and Anna Zobninskaya.

Russia until the Revolution (1917) was a multi-ethnic empire. This did not change with the Revolution, although some of the nationalities (Finland, Baltics, Poland, and areas of Romania), for a time exerted their indepdence. Even so Tsarist and Soviet literature was primarily, but not entirely Russian. We do not have any information on Tsarist children's literature, but we have collected information some information on Soviet children's literature. There were many wonderful stories published for children, some of which were beautifully illustrated. Some of the Soviet books had ideological content, but some were based on folk tales and could have been published during the Tsarist era. This varied over time influenced by Soviet political trends.

Tsarist Russia ( -1917)

ChIldren's authors in Imperial Russia are honoured in Moscow. There is a park about one author who wrote children's fables.

Soviet Union (1917-91)

Soviet books and periodicals targetting children reflected the importance given to molding future Soviet citizens and Communist Party members. Books often dealt with the Young Pioneers, to which virtually all Soviet children belonged, and school. The dignity of labor and the glories of the Soviet Union were other popular themes. Publications proselytized the Communist Party through illustrated articles, children's stories and photography. Most books were published in Russian, but books were also published in Ukranian and several of the many other languages spoken in the Soviet Union. This varied with the oficinal view of the nationality involved which could change over time. Soviet children's literature was also strongly affected by the varying economic and political policies adopted by the country over time.

Russia (1992- )

No information available yet. Hre we are talking about children's literature published after the disolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. The country still has substantial minorities, especially in the southrtn caucauses region, but is now primarily peopled by ethnic Russians. A Russian reader tells us, "There are books galore in Russia. They have a very thriving book publishing organisation. The House of Books in Moscow is about three stories of books. Here you can buy any book you want. The books are expertly produced and a joy to look at. They are well illustrated with colourful pictures. The children's book department is very child friendly. The books are on shelves or displayed on tables around themed displays . There are giant cuddle toys for little children to hug or sit around while they have an enjoyable reading experience. You name the book and the House of Books has it." This of course sounds like quite a book store. If we understand it, the House of Books is a carry over from Soviet times. We suspect it is still government owned and operated, but hopefully our Russian readers will tell us more. There are many books not available. We doubt that there are many books criticusing Prime Minisister Putin. We also dobt if there are many books discussing embarassing aspects of World War II (the alliance with Hitler, the invasions of neigboring states, and the attrocities perpetrated by the Red aemy and NKVD). Nor are there likely to be many books discussing the limitations on democracy and personal freedom in Russia today. Even the choice of books to translate into Russian continues to be infuenced by the Government. The censorship seems much milder than in Soviet times. These are of course all adult books. We suspect that there are today few limitations on children's literarture, but have little information at this time.


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Created: 3:03 PM 2/4/2011
Last updated: 6:13 PM 2/13/2011