A Short History of IRSCL


The foundations of the IRSCL were laid at the Frankfurt Colloquium of 1969 which was organized by members of the Institut für Jugendbuchforschung (Institute for Children's Literature Research) of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. There it was proposed that an international organization should be established to support and promote research in the field of children's literature. Colloquium participants from five countries elected an organizational committee and a year later, on 30 May 1970, the IRSCL was founded by seven specialists from Austria (Richard Bamberger), Czechoslovakia (Frantisek Holesovsky), the Federal Republic of Germany (Peter Aley, Klaus Doderer, Helmut Mueller), Spain (Carmen Bravo-Villasante) and Switzerland (Franz Caspar). By-laws were approved and Klaus Doderer was elected first IRSCL president.

The first symposium of the Society was held in Frankfurt in October 1971. By then fifty scholars from eighteen countries were members of the IRSCL.

  • To promote academic research and scholarship into children's and youth literature, reading and related fields.
  • To facilitate co-operation between researchers in different countries and in different branches of learning.
  • To enable researchers in different countries to exchange information, share discussion of professional and theoretical issues, and initiate and co-ordinate research.


2019-Present Evelyn Arizpe
2015-2019 Lies Wesseling
2011-2015 Mavis Reimer
2007-2011 Clare Bradford
2003-2007 Kimberley Reynolds
1999-2003 Sandra Beckett
1997-1999 John Stephens
1993-1997 Maria Nikolajeva
1989-1993 Rhonda Bunbury
1985-1989 Anne MacLeod
1981-1985 Denise Escarpit
1978-1981 James Fraser
1974-1978 Göte Klingberg
1970-1974 Klaus Doderer

IRSCL Congresses:

Every two years IRSCL organises a Congress at which scholars from all over the world have the opportunity to meet each other, to exchange ideas and to initiate collaborations. Each IRSCL Congress has a theme relevant to current research in the field of children's literature studies. Congresses also provide formal and informal opportunities for shaping the direction of the subject and influencing academic policy. Papers are read in English, and sometimes also in the language of the host country. Members receive a reduction on Congress fees.

The 25th Congress will take place at the Center for Educational Justice (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), in Santiago, Chile from October 26-30, 2021.

Past Congresses

2019 Stockholm, Sweden - Silence and Silencing in Children's Literature
2017 Toronto, Canada - Possible & Impossible Children: Intersections of Children's Literature & Childhood Studies
2015 Worcester, United Kingdom - Creating Childhoods
2013 Maastricht, The Netherlands - Children's Literature and Media Cultures
2011 Brisbane, Australia - Fear and Safety
2009 Frankfurt, Germany - Children’s Literature and Cultural Diversity in the Past and the Present
2007 Kyoto, Japan - Power and Children's Literature: Past, Present and Future
2005 Dublin, Ireland – Expectations and Experiences: Children, Childhood and Children's Literature
2003 Kristiansand, Norway - Telling a World, Shaping a World.
2001 Klein Kariba, South Africa - Change and Renewal in Children's Literature
1999 Calgary, Canada - Children's Literature and the fin de siècle (Joint meeting with the Children's Literature Association)
1997 York, England - The Presence of the Past in Children's Literature
1995 Stockholm, Sweden - Reflections of Change: the last 50 Years in Children's Literature
1993 Geelong, Australia - Crossing the boundaries: Multiculturalism in Children's Literature
1991 Paris, France - The Applications of Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory to Children's Literature
1989 Salamanca, Spain - The History of Children's Literature
1987 Cologne, Germany - Books for children, Books for adults; The Relationship between them
1985 University of Quebec, Montreal - Literary Aspects of Fantasy and Fantastic Literature for Children and Young People
1983 Bordeaux, France - Portrayal of the Child in Children's Literature
1981 Moscow, USSR - International Dissemination of Children`s Literature Research; Trends in Teaching of Children's Literature, Status of Research in Specific Countries
1978 Exeter, Great Britain - Responses to Children's Literature: Children's Responses to Text and Illustrations
1976 Södertälje, Sweden - Problems of Translation in the Field of Literature for Children and Young People
1974 Boldern, Switzerland - Study of Reading Habits and Research on Sex Role Stereotyping in Literature for Children and Young People
1971 Frankfurt, Germany - Children's Literature as a Subject of Research