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Ricerca per l'innovazione della scuola italiana

Exhibition: For fun and for real. Reading and recreational books from the Indire Youth Literature Fonds

Exhibition curated by:

Pamela Giorgi, Irene Zoppi, Marta Zangheri

With the collaboration of: Laura Coscia, Vieri Pestelli, Antonella Sagazio, Giovanni Spinelli

Promoters and organizers:

National Institute of Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research – INDIRE

M9 – Museum of the 20th century

Graphics by:

Paolo Curina with the collaboration of Martina Trevisani


The exhibition originates from the reorganization of an important section of the bibliographic-documentary heritage of the National Institute of Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research (Indire) in Florence: The Antiquarian Fonds of Youth Literature. This archival fonds, although partially incomplete and not including all Italian publishing houses between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – offers a rich and precious testimony, almost unique in the Italian landscape, of the birth and evolution of children’s literature and specialized publishing, in particular that aimed at schools, families and the general public.

The wealth of the Indire book collections is linked to one of the priority purposes that the institution had since its inception, that is, to also act as a collection centre for all publications intended for children and young people in the Italian language and not only. The formation of the Youth Literature Antiquarian Fond can be traced back to the National Didactic Exhibition (Florence, 1925), which exhibited the results of the 1923 Gentile Reform and the innovations underway in those years in the Italian school system. After the war, with the resumption of the activity of the institute, which became the National Educational Centre of Studies and Documentation, there were new acquisitions of volumes so that the section of youth literature was renewed and expanded further.

In the exhibition path, we tried to highlight some of the salient aspects that have characterized publications for children between the two centuries. First of all, the need to act as an educational and formative tool, in parallel, and never in contrast with this purpose, we find the theme of leisure and play, which characterises the literature of the nineteenth century, and the books and then the magazines of the twentieth century, in which images, colours and graphics will gradually become equally preponderant aspects.

Illustration is in fact the other fil rouge of the exhibition: starting from the Nineteenth century’s out-of-text tables, reused and adapted from other texts, the illustrations will gradually be created and specially designed for the stories, and will be the works of artists and painters, often turned into graphic designers. In the Twentieth century, the progress of printing techniques, the introduction of colour and a staff of skilled designers, will be decisive in ensuring that literature for young people would achieve, with increasing effectiveness, the goal of “educating while having fun”.


The exhibition can be requested to be repeated by writing to p.giorgi@indire.it or archiviostorico@indire.it


Technical sheet and preview >>


Useful links:

Catalogue: Per gioco e sul serio. Libri di lettura e ricreazione del Fondo Antiquario di letteratura giovanile Indire, P. Giorgi, M. Zangheri, I. Zoppi (a cura di), Firenze, Indire, 2018

The virtual exhibition

Indire’s historical heritage

Info e contatti

INDIRE, via M. Buonarroti 10 - 50122 Firenze

Telefono: 055.2380301

Email: archiviostorico@indire.it

Visite su appuntamento: dal lunedì al venerdì ore 8.00-13.00 ; 14.00–17.00