06386 - Children's Literature

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Primary teacher education (cod. 8540)

    Also valid for Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Primary Teacher Education (cod. 5711)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows the cultural context in which children's literature has historycally developed; knows how to analyse children's books, distinguishing between commercial, strictly educational, and literary products; knows how to make connections between a literary, a filmic, a visual text addressed to children or having children as their focus; knows the main theories concerning the study of children's literature; knows how to conceive educational projects to promote the pleasure of reading.

Course contents

The course teaches what children's books - and especially children's 'classics' and/or the best contemporary literary products - are actually about. It stimulates students to read deeper and in between the lines in order to discover and decipher the metaphors, the topoi, the archetypes, the symbols implicit in all literature and in particular in children's literature. It shows the philosophical and anthropological themes to be found in children's books. It reveals how children's books are, at their best, always a subversive literature, deeply critical of the world of grown-ups. The course uses childrens' literature to help future Teachers discover the inner, and often otherwise unexpressed, world of childhood, with its peculiar visions, desires, dreams, needs and ways of being.

Erasmus students DO NOT HAVE TO ATTEND the workshop (laboratorio) which is compulsory for Italian students.

Instead, beyond the study of the bibliography indicated in the program (see below, in the section 'Readings/Bibliography') they must choose at least three picturebooks that they consider particularly sophisticated, effective, important, and they will have to analyse their verbal and visual strategies during the exam (it is necessary to bring the picturebooks the day of the exam).


To pass the exam, all Erasmus students must study very carefully the following critical text:

G. Grilli, Di cosa parlano i libri per bambini. La letteratura per l'infanzia come critica radicale, Roma, Donzelli, 2021.

Students will also have to choose a specific, recurrent, or typical theme of children's literature and read at least 3 novels for children revolving around that theme. They will have to present and analyse these novels during the exam.

Instead of attending the workshop which is compulsory for Italian students, Erasmus students must choose - and analyse during the exam - 3 picturebooks that they consider particularly sophisticated both in narrative and visual terms, and explain how and why.

Teaching methods

Frontal lectures enriched by the use of projected images taken from the most important illustrated children's books and picturebooks, by the reading aloud of parts of novels, picturebooks and short stories, and by the vision of some movies concerning childhood.

Assessment methods

The exam is an oral exam, and the student will be asked to talk about the most important themes found in the critical books and to create a discourse on a chosen theme for which he/she will have read at least 3 children's novels (classic and/or contemporary ones).

The exam score is in 30ties (minimum score is 18, maximum 30).

The score will depend on how much and how well the student has studied and comprehended the theoric book, being able to discuss its most important concepts, and on the depth of critical analysis of the children's books he/she chooses to talk about.

If students fail one round, they can sign up again for the following one.

To be part of the list of students that in any sessions will be interviewed, students must sign up for the exam through the Almaesami website.

It is absolutely necessary to speak a sufficiently fluid Italian to pass the oral exam, which is an argumentative/discoursive exam. 

Teaching tools

Possible extra teaching tools will be indicated during the lectures.

Office hours

See the website of Giorgia Grilli


Quality education Gender equality Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.