Textuality and Childhood
International Project on Teddy Diaries: Textual Display of Children’s Everyday Lives
HESA-Higher Education of South Africa
Collaborators: Marit Haldar and Randi Waerdahl (Norway), Naydene deLange, Tilla Olivier and Johanna Geldenhuys (South Africa), Claudia Mitchell (Canada), Erendira Rueda (United States
This international study of children’s ‘teddy diaries’ across Norway, China, South Africa and the US is located within a very specific pedagogical project that began in Norway. Following a major school reform in 1997, Norwegian schools introduced a program using teddy bears and “teddy diaries” as a tool to bridge the transition between family and school for pupils beginning school. The program is a simple one: each first grade class is provided with a teddy bear and a diary. The diary is passed around from child to child in the classroom. The child is then asked to record in the diary the teddy bear’s experiences as it accompanies each child for an overnight visit to the child’s home. All diary stories are shared among the children in the classroom and also with their families in the course of the teddy bear’s journey from home to home. Working across these 4 countries, the research team is interested in the ways in which the everyday lives of children in relation to home, space and place can be studied through the textual aspects of writing and drawing.