Illustrated books of the School Groups. A world of adventures

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Yolanda Ruiz
Library cupboard

Library cupboard. Photo obtained from the book Travelling school libraries of the City Council of Barcelonacirculants de l’Ajuntament de Barcelona

Since 1967, on 2nd April, coinciding with the date of birth of the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, the International Children’s Book Day, from the library we have wanted to join this celebration. This year we will tell you about a set of illustrated books that come from the School Groups of Barcelona which depend on the Patronat Escolar (The Barcelona Municipal School Board – in Catalan) founded in 1922 and dissolved in 1939.

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Covers of the series of Popular Tales from the publisher Políglota published by Valeri Serra Boldú. The collection
includes illustrations by Lola Anglada, Montserrat Casanovas, Mercè Llimona, Ricard Opisso and Josep Longoria

Each group was provided with a small set of books in the classrooms and an equipped space for the library service within the centre. Furthermore, there were travelling or mobile libraries that moved between the various schools. The aim of all of this was to reinforce and complement the learning, at the same time as fostering reading as a pastime amongst the pupils, who were able to take the books home.

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Covers of the series of Catalan Tales from the publisher Bonavia collected by Jordi Canigó
(pseudonym of Salvador Bonavia Panyella) and illustrated by Josep Robert

Unfortunately, we have not been able to check when or under what circumstances a pack was introduced into our library that came from the School Groups that they depended on. What we do know for sure, is that, during the month of August 1940, Aurora Díaz Plaja, a librarian strongly committed towards children’s books and a great promoter of reading amongst the youngest ones, offered her services to the Library of Art Museums of Barcelona.

A part of the pack, which belonged to books, is made up of seventy documents, which provide us with a brief sketch of the panorama of children’s publishing of the Second Republic. These are simple editions that were not always in a good state of conservation, precisely due to the intensive use made of them by the young users.

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Covers of the collection of Children’s Tales from the publisher Bonavia, the first illustrated by Josep Robert and the other two by Rafel Caseres

The period of the Second Republic signifies the culmination, which began in the period of the turn of the century, of a group of publishers specialised in children, some of whom publishing in Catalan, such as the publishers Políglota, Bonavia and Mentora.

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Between 1931 and 1935 the publisher Mentora published the series, Tales of past and present, adaptations of the
tales of the brothers Grimm and of Hans Christian Andersen by Valeri Serra Boldú. The illustrations of many of
the books of the collection were done by J. Sánchez Tena

For the youngest readers, the visual part is more attractive that the written part. A defining characteristic of the children’s book is the use of images accompanying the written word, and the illustrator takes on a special relevance. For this reason, the collection counts on the most notable representation of illustrators of the time: Lola Anglada, Joan Junceda and Joan Llaverias, amongst others.

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Covers and illustrated tales by Lola Anglada, Joan Junceda and Joan Llaverias

Recommended links

Information about the Schools Groups:

Teachers and pupils of the Republic

The pupils of the Republic. The School Groups of the City Council of Barcelona

Pedagogical task. City Council of Barcelona (1900-1933) in the Digital Memory of Catalonia

Information about the illustrated book of the Second Republic:

Major Catalan illustrators of children’s books (in Catalan)

Historic bibliography of children’s books in Catalan

 

Yolanda Ruiz
Biblioteca

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