Kimberley Reynolds Lecture


Kimberley Reynolds

Reading for Little Rebels: internationalism and radical writing for children

A public lecture by Kimberley Reynolds, Professor of Children’s Literature, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University and 2018 Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

In our current turbulent times, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is a good moment to reflect on the ways that children’s literature has attempted to spread the values of peace, understanding and mutual respect between countries, the need to share resources, and the importance of thinking globally rather than nationalistically. These were also the aims of the radical children’s books published in the first half of the last century in an attempt to encourage children to work to build a progressive, egalitarian, peaceful and sustainable modern world. Many of these books were either first published in the Soviet Union or were concerned with events there, so it is fitting that in 2017, the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Russia is the section of IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People) that is sponsoring ICBD. Growing up in Melbourne in the 1940s and 1950s, the noted Soviet cultural historian, Sheila Fitzpatrick, recalls reading some of these books and thinking “what fun people seemed to have there…how totally unlike anything in Melbourne”. She was particularly struck by the ways these books offered a collective expectation of a better future.

This talk presented a selection of radical works from the first half of the last century and consider whether current writing for children similarly cultivates visions and skills that will help the rising generation believe in and build a better future.   

Kimberley Reynolds is the Professor of Children’s Literature in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University in the UK. In 2013 she received the International Brothers Grimm Award for her contributions to the field of children’s literature research. She conceived and was the first Director of the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature and was involved in founding the UK’s Children’s Laureate and setting up Seven Stories: the National Centre for Children’s Books. She is a Past President of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature and was the first Senior Honorary Fellow of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at The University of Western Australia. Currently she is Senior Editor of International Research in Children’s Literature and editing, with Michael Rosen and Jane Rosen, an anthology of left-wing writing for children in Britain from 1900-1963 titled Reading and Rebellion (forthcoming spring 2018). Recent publications include Children’s Literature in the Oxford University series of Very Short Introductions (2012) and Left Out: The Forgotten Tradition of Radical Publishing for Children in Britain, 1910-1949 (2016).

The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) and the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) are pleased to sponsor this public lecture as part of a series of events to celebrate International Children’s Book Day in April 2018. The events are convened by Dr Ned Curthoys (UWA).