Silencing Children' Literature Criticism: Ljubljana City Library, gold pears and assuming responsibility
Milena Mileva Blažić
All of us dealing with studies on children’s literature (professionally, semi-professionally or unprofessionally) are also advocates of children in literature. We have a duty to treat the image of a child (from birth up to the age of 18) with dignity and respect, especially when it comes to problematic issues that the authors of children’s literature deal with by taking the side of children. These issues are therefore studied from a problem-oriented aspect (in a decent and respectful way) and not in a problematic manner (e.g., attributing the desire for sexual abuse to the child and the shifting of responsibility for the sexual abuse of children on the child). Authors and literary historians dealing with children’s literature – as stated in the principles of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award – base their work on a fundamental principle of trusting the child, and we are obliged to protect the integrity of the child, both in literature and real-world scenarios. Those of us who are truly committed to the well-being of children need to immediately inform the competent state authorities of possible abuses of children by staff, institutions and other people.
The book entitled Evangelij za pitbule [The Gospel for Pitbulls] shows the primary sexual abuse of a child, while the secondary abuse is taking place “in front of us”, as the cameraman / narrator places the blame for sexual abuse (or for alleged consent) on the child, followed by the tertiary abuse by the children’s literary system, or more precisely, the Ljubljana City Library which promotes the novel intended for adults, with adult phantasms, as »an excellent literary work« for children (12+) (Handbook for reading the hight quality youth books, 2016, 2017), although it does not have an unambiguous message and does not advocate for children’s rights and integrity or the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as the foundation of their or our work.
Milena Mileva Blažić teaches children’s literature at the University of Ljubljana. Her fields of interest include children’s literature, the pedagogy of children’s literature, folk tales and fairy tales, and multicultural children’s literature and she has published articles in Slovenian and English in these areas of scholarship.