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History Russia & The Former Soviet Union

Picturing the Page

Illustrated Children's Literature and Reading under Lenin and Stalin

by (author) Megan Swift

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
May 2020
Russia & the Former Soviet Union, Russian & Former Soviet Union, Books & Reading, Children's Literature
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2020
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2020
    List Price

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Based on sources from rare book libraries in Russia and around the world, Picturing the Page offers a vivid exploration of illustrated children’s literature and reading under Lenin and Stalin – a period when mass publishing for children and universal public education became available for the first time in Russia. By analysing the illustrations in fairy tales, classic "adult" literature reformatted for children, and war-time picture books, Megan Swift elucidates the vital and multifaceted function of illustrated children’s literature in repurposing the past.


Picturing the Page demonstrates that while the texts of the past remained fixed, illustrations could slip between the pages to mediate and annotate that past, as well as connect with anti-religious, patriotic, and other campaigns that were central to Soviet children’s culture after the 1917 Revolution.

About the author

Megan Swift is an associate professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria.

Megan Swift's profile page


  • Winner, 2021 Book Award from the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL)
  • Winner, 2021 Canadian Association of Slavists Taylor & Francis Book Prize

Editorial Reviews

"Swift's work is invaluable to an understanding of Soviet visual culture, thanks especially to its extensive illustrations, but it will also be of great interest to scholars of children's literature."

<i>Children's Literature Association Quarterly</i>

"Car c’est bien un autre mérite de cet ouvrage original, riche et stimulant, que d’ouvrir vers différents prolongements, alors même qu’il constitue en soi une réelle avancée dans la recherche sur le livre illustré pour enfants de l’époque soviétique, tant du point de vue des objets étudiés que de la démarche adoptée."

<em>Cahiers du monde russe</em>

“Megan Swift’s Picturing the Page is a welcome new addition to the research of illustrated children’s books and children’s reading. Picturing the Page ambitiously seeks to reconstruct the relationship between illustrated children’s books and children’s reading in the context of the Soviet literature curriculum and reading culture.”

<em>The Russian Review</em>

"Picturing the Page is an example of thorough interdisciplinary research written in an engaging manner, well supported with wonderful images."

<em>Australian Slavonic and East European Studies</em>

Other titles by Megan Swift