Curated by Yuliia Kozlovets
CHILDREN ARE NATURALLY OPTIMISTS
Adults are often skeptical of something new, something incomprehensible, and restrained in judgments about people and phenomena they have not encountered before, while children are not so careful in determining character traits of strangers, they tend to focus on positive things, and they are trusting and optimistic. Lacking life experience, preliminarily positive children are ready to learn new skills, study, and discover, getting rid of their excessive optimism only in late childhood and gradually understanding this world more and more. While many adults instinctively want to protect their children from harsh reality, the realistically written literature can provide support to children, especially when they face difficult situations. And here the issue of quality of the children’s book arises.
A text for a child is a text for an adult to communicate with the child.
One may mention here the principles of nonviolent communication. Nonviolent communication teaches to recognize one’s own and someone else’s needs. In communication with children, the fear of losing away or losing control, as well as the desire to do good things promote our interests, but sometimes suppress empathy. Contemporary literature addresses very different topics and forms a dialogue with children – its sincerity attracts young readers, and imperious communication, from the position of the omniscient adult, pushes them away.
Like any cultural phenomenon, children’s books reflect the realities of their time – and these can be not only about ‘eternal’ values, but also about situations, the attitudes to which have changed. A modern high-quality children’s book treats little readers very wisely. First of all, because it delicately and truthfully provides information that children may encounter in life. Such books have enough commitment to tradition, innovation, and freedom.
How to write books so that they are wanted to be read? What kinds of themes, formats, genres, and characters to offer? What do children and teenagers want to read about today? What do they lack? Where is the lack of openness, where is too much instruction, where intonation weighs? What can Ukrainian publishers and authors of new children’s texts offer today’s young readers?
All these issues are in the focus of this year’s Kids&Teens Program of the Book Arsenal Festival. Are there eternal questions? Yes. But with the current focus that is inherent in this moment of the history of the Ukrainian children’s literature. There is focus on new names and formats, historical narratives, changes, and the need to hear the voice of children and people with other experiences.
The adult world is waiting for the quarantine to end and the epidemic to be overcome, the war to end and environmental problems to be solved. External cataclysms multiply our fears and uncertainties; our life experiences, personal crises and traumas, responsibilities for us, our family, work, and country are tied in a strong knot of panic and depression, increasing our anxiety in times of turbulence. We are all waiting for the return to normalcy. And our children are living and growing up here and now, perceiving reality as it is. Their mainstays in a stormy world are family, friends, and responsible adults around them. And books as well.