Between 1950 and 1980, Polish illustrations for children were extremely popular. This art form owes its fame to some of the founding fathers of the Polish School of Posters: Roman Cieślewicz, Janusz Stanny, Henryk Tomaszewski, and Jan Młodożeniec. To this day, their work is an inspiration for younger illustrators. The last decade has seen a revival of books for children in Poland. New publishing houses are constantly popping up and taking the risk of publishing contemporary and innovative books. And the world has taken note. Polish books regularly receive the Bologna Ragazzi Award—the most important international children’s book award. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the most important international event dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry. Authors, illustrators, literary agents, licensors and licensees, packagers, distributors, printers, booksellers, and librarians meet to sell and buy copyright, find the very best of children’s publishing and multimedia production, generate and gather new contacts, all while strengthening professional relationships, discovering new business opportunities, discussing, and debating the latest trends in the sector.
Poland's presence at the event has drawn increasing attention, as authors and publishers offer innovative takes on the country's rich tradition of storytelling and illustration. For almost 10 years now, Polish illustration has been enjoying a boom period. This is especially evident in the market for children’s books. A combination of a great number of talented artists, each bringing their own diversity and ingenuity to the mix, supported by open-minded publishers, has resulted in even more outstanding books to choose from.
Of course, we all know how important it is to read to children. But are we also aware of the power of the images that come with texts? Or that the graphic designers and illustrators are equals with the authors of the books as creators of the story? To be successful, these illustrators have to treat children as partners and respond to them as sensory readers of visual languages. Stories are told through the images and make the books come to life. Bold illustrations create parallel stories through images, sharing new interpretations of classic stories and drawing on traditions to tell new ones. Sure, young people can appreciate art as much as adults can, if not more so! And with these waves of illustrators coming from Poland, children have plenty of books to choose from to start their journey of interacting with art and culture.