Building Citizens: The Patriotic Child

Ganesha the Remover of all Obstacles by Anant Pai cover, the large elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha is reclining on a golden throne

Cover of Ganesha the Remover of all Obstacles

By Anant Pai,  H. G. Mirchandani for India Book House Education Trust, 1982-1983

In new nations and those undergoing radical transition, books for young people become unifying civic tools. In his ubiquitous spellers, Noah Webster introduced a distinctly American English language—freed from what he described as the clamor of British aristocratic affectation—to generations of the young republic's schoolchildren.

Revolutionary Russia's state-run publishers enlisted artists and writers to create picture books that embellished guideposts of good civic behavior with aesthetic delight. The long-smoldering Irish republican independence movement sparked a revival of interest in Irish fairy tales, in which the poets William Butler Yeats and James Stephens played leading roles.

Paperbacks in comic-book format proved wildly effective in familiarizing Occupation-era Japanese children with Western cultural ideals and postcolonial India's youth with their nation's labyrinthine cultural heritage. Currently, postcolonial French West Africa is in the early stages of a process that Webster would have recognized: the effort to craft authentically African children's books that, as the Cameroon-born artist Christian Épanya has said, "speak" to African children.

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The American Spelling Book by Noah Webster title page, black text on white page

Title page of The American Spelling Book

By Noah Webster, Columbia University, facsimile 1962

The American Spelling Book

Noah Webster

Originally published 1793


Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens cover, a helmeted figure is carrying a spear

Cover of Irish Fairy Tales

By James Stephens, McMillian and Co., 1968

Irish Fairy Tales

Written by James Stephens

Illustrated by Arthur Rackham


Topotun i Knizhka by Il'ia Ionov cover,  helmeted figure carrying a book with a printing press in the background

Cover of Topotun i Knizhka

By Il'ia Ionov, Gosizdat, 1926

Topotun i knizhka

Written by Il'ia Lonov

Illustrated by Mikhail Tsekhanoveskii


T'Sirk by Samuil Marshak cover, clown figure wearing an apparatus at his waist that makes it look like he is riding a green horse

Cover of T'Sirk

By Samuil Marshak, Raduga, 1928


Written by Samuil Marshak

Illustrated by Vladimir Lebedev


Daniel Boone by Esther Averill cover,  a boy sitting in a tent in a forested area, cooking over a fire

Cover of Daniel Boone

By Esther Averill, Domino Press, 1931

Daniel Boone (French Edition)

Written by Esther Averill

Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky


In My Mother's House by Anne Nolan Clark cover,  two figures are working in a corn field

Cover of In My Mother's House

By Anne Nolan Clark, Viking Press, 1941

In My Mother's House

Written by Anne Nolan Clark

Illustrated by Velino Herrera


La Calle es Libre by Kurusa cover, several children are sitting on a hill, looking despondently over a highway

Cover of La Calle es Libre

By Kurusa, Ediciones Ekare, 1981

La Calle es Libre

Written by Kurusa

Illustrated by Monika Doppert


Krishna Retold from the Bhagawat Puran by Anant Pai cover, the blue figure of the Hindu deity Krishna surrounded by clay pots

Cover of Krishna Retold from the Bhagawat Puran

By Anant Pai, H.G. Mirchandani for India Book House Education Trust, 1982-1983

Amar chitra katha

Series created by Anant Pai


The Bicycle Man by Allen Say cover,  a boy in a school outfit stands in front of a large wooden building, a shadowed man and a bicycle are seen in the background

Cover of The Bicycle Man

By Allen Say, Parnassus, 1982

The Bicycle Man

Written and Illustrated by Allen Say


Le Taxi-Brousse de Papa Diop by Christian Épanya cover, a colorful crowded street is displayed behind a large red van

Cover of Le Taxi-Brousse de Papa Diop

By Christian Épanya,  Syros, 2005

Le Taxi-brousse de Papa Diop (Papa Diop's Taxi)

Written and Illustrated by Christian Epanya


Feng Zikai ji by Feng Zikai cover, several white lotus blossoms sit in front of bamboo plants

Cover of Feng Zikai ji

By Feng Zikai, Dong fang chu ban she, 2008

Feng Zikai ji

Written and Illustrated by Feng Zikai


Tsunami by Joydeb and Moyna Chitrakar cover, several people gathered around a body of water done in traditional Patua art

Cover of Tsunami

By Joydeb and Moyna Chitrakar, Tara Books, 2011


Written and Illustrated by Joydeb and Moyna Chitrakar


Visions of Childhood
Building Citizens: The Patriotic Child