Making, Building, Mending: Creativity and Craftsmanship in Children’s Literature and Culture

Congrès du réseau “The Child and the Book

Organisation : Cécile Pichon-Bonin (LIR3S UMR 7366 CNRS-uB) 


In the past, bookish children have often been contrasted – sometimes fairly crudely – with their more practically-oriented counterparts, as if an interest in language, literature, and the world of fiction was necessarily incompatible with the ability and inclination to use one’s hands in order to “make” things.

Yet children’s ability to find and collect various materials and use them for all kinds of creative projects has been observed in past centuries and used for diverse educational purposes. Children’s literature itself abounds with representations/celebrations of various types of crafts, showing child characters inventing and making things, or recycling old or discarded objects. Building huts or other forms of shelter, for instance, is a fairly common theme. But young protagonists may also engage in fabricating toys, in quilting or sewing, in drawing or writing. In some cases, adult figures can also be shown to invent and make wonderful things, such as a child could imagine them, going through the process of identifying suitable materials, collecting and recycling them, and designing uses for the newly fabricated objects…

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