By Lydia Kokkola

About Lydia Kokkola

Lydia Kokkola works at the University of Oulu, where her main responsibilities involve educating future teachers of English. Her most recent publications concern adolescents reading in English as a foreign language. In the past, she has worked on Holocaust fiction for youth and fictional portrayals of adolescent sexuality. Together with Roxanne Harde, she has edited several issues of Bookbird, a volume on Pollyanna, and most recently, the IRSCL award-winning collection The Embodied Child (2017). Together with Sara van den Bossche, she has edited a special issue of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly (2019) on cognitive approaches to children’s literature and is currently working on a special issue of Barnboken on diversity in the Nordic countries.


The word trauma originally comes from medicine, where it describes a physical wound caused by something external to the body, such as a physical blow. Other derivations of the Greek word trauma refer to piercing, and in the nineteenth century, the association with psychological injury began to dominate (Macareavey 2016, 154). In children’s literature, trauma is primarily associated with psychological wounds. Even when physical trauma is central to the plot, the narrative tends to focus on the mental anguish incurred. Both the car crash that temporarily disables Pollyanna in Eleanor Porter’s Pollyanna (1913) and Katy’s fall from the swing in Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did (1872) focus on the mental rehabilitation of the eponymous heroines, which is rewarded with physical recovery. The association of the word trauma with piercing captures another feature of trauma in children’s literature: it represents a breach of a border that was assumed to be impervious. …

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