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Publication Date



UM campus only

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Modern Languages and Literatures (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Hugo Achugar

Second Committee Member

Tracy Devine Guzmán

Third Committee Member

Elena Grau Lleveria

Fourth Committee Member

Steven Butterman


This dissertation examines the relationship between children’s literature, notions of modernization and conceptions of childhood in contemporary Latin America. Using as a framework the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and two of its Latin American chapters (Venezuela’s Banco del Libro and Brazil’s Fundação Nacional do Livro Infantil e Juvenil), I study how non-state institutions have intervened in the formation of “canons” of children’s literature and, by extension, highlighted or obscured radically distinct experiences of childhood. The interdisciplinary theoretical framework draws mainly on Childhood Studies, Literacy Studies, Postcolonial Studies and theories on the plural phenomena broadly labeled as “Modernities.” By examining canonical children’s books alongside historical milestones in social policy related to children, I show that there is a close link between hegemonic notions of the dichotomy “development vs. underdevelopment” and the depiction of “child development” in canonical Latin American children’s books. This analogy between social and individual development, in turn, has a strong impact on discourses of nationality, “progress” and social inclusion. Finally, I argue that although the field of Children’s Literature is currently framed by a set of internationally accepted stylistic and ideological conventions that shape the way readers imagine childhood, it is also true that myriad localized cultural variables have an incidence on the social construction of this phase of life.


Childhood; Children's literature; Brazil; Venezuela; Banco del Libro, Fundação Nacional do Livro Infantil e Juvenil