Mapping the child’s world: The cognitive and cultural function of proper names in the book series Paula’s Life

  • Mari Niitra


The article regards children’s literature as a certain cultural tool. This approach enables to reveal various characteristic aspects of the poetics of children’s literature, while relating them to children’s cognitive and cultural development. Focusing on a book series Paula’s Life by Estonian author Aino Pervik, it can be seen how two different ways of understanding — the initial, so-called mythological type of thinking of preschoolers and the emerging conceptual thinking — are combined. The article draws mostly on the concepts of cultural psychology and the authors of Tartu–Moscow school of semiotics, who have elaborated the idea that proper names form one of the central components of mythological consciousness, the latter being comparable to “the language of proper names”. The main attention is drawn on the functioning of names and the topic of naming and categorizing in these texts.


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