Since 1989 Hans-Heino Ewers has been Professor of German literature with a focus on children’s literature at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt am Main and Director of the ‘Institut für Jugendbuchforschung’ (Institute for Children’s Literature Research). He is the initiator and co-editor of Kinder- und Jugendliteraturforschung (Yearbook of Research in Children’s Literature), which has been published since 1995, and author of numerous studies on the theory and history of children’s literature, as well as contemporary literature for children and young adults. In 2000 he published Literatur für Kinder- und Jugendliche, an introduction into children’s literature research, and in 2009, Fundamental Concepts of Children’s Literature Research: Literary and Sociological Approaches.
Homepage von Hans-Heino Ewers: http://www.hhewers.de
Title: Children, Young Adults and Adults as Readers of Children’s Literature: Crossover as a Global Phenomenon
Since the beginning of the 21st century, at least in western countries, children’s and young adult literature has crossed borders and is increasingly seen as reading material for adults also. The artistically ambitious picturebook, for example, has become an adult’s collector’s item as the mature reader rediscovers the pleasure that originates from the interplay between the words and illustrations. A lot of literary genres, which were preserved for the field of children’s literature like fairy tales, legends, fables, exempla or problem novels are being rediscovered and valued by adult readers. The same has occurred with modern youth or adolescent novels like The Neverending Story (Michael Ende) and the Harry Potter sequels (J.K. Rowlings). Adults have always been involved in children’s literary communication as mediators, not only reading to and with children, but also being responsible for deciding whether it was suitable reading material. As real crossover and all age literature, children’s and young adult literature has acquired a higher cultural position and in my presentation I will present the argument that authors and illustrators should be taking its increasingly sophisticated readers into account, without losing sight of its primary target audience, the child.