About this project
This project is about published books, created by children. Most of the books were made for children. But of course, books are for everyone.
We don't usually think of books created by children as a specific type of literature. They are, however, a really interesting way we can see how many children have expressed themselves in written, illustrated and published forms. Books by children are a form of self-expression – they are a way children can share their ideas with each other and tell stories they see as important. This is vital as many children from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds cannot see themselves, their families and their communities in mainstream commercial children’s literature.
The Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989), among other rights, asserts children’s right to express their own views freely (article 12). Embedded in this is children’s right to public participation. One way this right can be realised is through publishing words and art by children in books. Books by children allow all people, regardless of their age, to value children’s creative expression.
Children are often idealised as apolitical beings and archetypal figures of innocence and purity in Western culture today. As anthropologist Miriam Ticktin argues, this idealisation limits the ways a person can be considered as ‘a thinking, engaged, active or informed subject’. In books authored and illustrated by children, children are visible as thinking, engaged, active and informed subjects. Through creating books and reading books by children, children can see themselves, and others, as people with ideas, knowledge and creativity.
Both independent and commercial publishers have published books by children. This website and online database focuses on books published by the Australian based community arts organisation Kids' Own Publishing. This project is part of an ongoing partnership between Kids' Own Publishing and researchers at The University of Melbourne. You can read more about the approach Kids’ Own Publishing takes here.
Reference: Miriam Ticktin, ‘A World without Innocence’. American Ethnologist 44, no. 4 (2017): 577–590. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12558