He who rewards the children’s book rewards education


Illustration by Paola Bertozzi for

Illustration by Paola Bertozzi for “A Penguin in Trieste” by Chiara Carminati – Bompiani

Today, the finale of the 1st edition of Campiello Junior was held at the H-Farm Campus in Roncade for works of fiction and poetry for children. The final, streamed on Campiello Youtube channel, so Antonella Sbuelz med I’m not going back tonight (Feltrinelli) get the better of Chiara Carminati, A penguin in Trieste (Bompiani) and Guido Quarzo-Anna Vivarelli, The box with dreams (Science Editorial).

In the last few decades, children’s literature has experienced a period of happy and multifaceted flourishing in Italy. Brave and dynamic publishers were born, animated by strong ideal tensions and ready to experiment, both in the context of storytelling and in the context of communication, looking at what the best foreign writers and writers offer, but also focusing on names and projects that exclusively Italians; and even the publishers who have written the publishing history of our country have smelled the vitality and opportunities that a thriving market offers. A decidedly encouraging and, above all, very lively scenario, where, however, there are age-old prejudices about what literature conceived and written for readers in education should be, and where commercial interests all too often play a priority role in managing the choices of production, even to the detriment of the quality of the books published. These are precisely the main reasons that help to understand the importance of a work such as that performed by the technical committees and readers’ juries in connection with literary awards such as the very young Campiello Junior. The Technical Committee discusses the works received, assesses their compositional originality and literary quality from very different perspectives, interests and tastes, which members inevitably have, and identifies a triplet of works considered valuable; but it is then the readers they are sent to to decide who wins. The dual perspective of the Technical Committee and the Reading Jury is a crucial aspect because it has to do with the constitutive complexity and ambiguity of a literature written by adults to recipients who are not adults, not yet for the little ones, and who have a sensitivity, an experience of the world and an imaginative life that is deeply different from those who write stories for them. Rarely, in fact, does anyone who writes for children really and deeply listen to the needs and opportunities of younger readers to understand, and tends to underestimate the latter and neglect the former, dominated as it is by the desire to lead. indisputably to guide it: towards the acquisition of a value system and behavior that is considered socially appropriate, or towards the imitation of what they themselves – adults – have become, forget the other way of being in the world and see on the one who is childhood itself. I believe that literature for children, for girls and boys, can have a very important educational role, in fact indispensable, but that it primarily has it for the type of experience it provides the opportunity to have: a unique experience of its kind, involving those who do. it is so intimate that it allows them to go ‘somewhere else’, in a space built on the basis of the narrative apparatus set up by the author, a real machine to imagine that only the reader can embark on his own and very personal contributions. This experience has to do with a state of deep concentration and lasting attention to words and their unfolding and chaining one after the other, from line to line, from side to side, and it is important that it is promoted in a world of digital distraction and the superficial, ruined, and discontinuous reading that pervades our time. It allows us to open new eyes to the world, as Calvino taught, and favors processes of cognitive decentralization and the maturation of pro-social skills associated with empathy, to the fact of assuming – even if it is in the virtual dimension of reading – someone else’s shoes, by a person who is not us, but about whom we can experience feelings and thoughts, existential difficulties or joys, sudden illuminations or long and meditated consciousness that comes out of the limitation of our feeling and thinking: it that is, to expand our ability to experience the human, in a world more and more connected, where it is no longer possible to entrench oneself in its own little certainties. This is what literature allows to do, through a care in the use of language, which knows how to strengthen its expressive and poetic possibilities, and which focuses on the preservation of diversity as such – as a different opportunity to look at the world – and not at homologation in a few simplified formulas and consumed by use, or in slogans that erase all complexity in the sign of an immediacy or greater ease of understanding. The work of the Technical Committee for the Campiello Junior Prize was also carried out with this awareness, in the knowledge that girls and boys can be attentive and passionate readers when they encounter literary objects that are able to activate their interest and respect their intelligence: they are actually usually readers are much more attentive than adults, as shown at the meeting where they discussed with some members of the technical committee about the assessment criteria for the works in the competition. Girls and boys, girls and boys are a complex and attentive audience that deserves respect, and many adults should take an example from them, with the playful seriousness they know how to show when they are engaged by real literary works, and start read more and better, yes books for boys. It would be an excellent exercise in cognitive decentralization and an opportunity to try to look at oneself from a different perspective, find forgotten things and discover new ones, always and in any case activate a reflection on oneself, on what one has become of to grow up. as well as on one’s relationship.to the little ones – the newcomers – and in their own way of being in the world and in time. Adults take an example from children’s playful seriousness when taken by quality literature, and also read children’s texts more carefully

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