Attitudes to literature for young people tend to be somewhat ambivalent. On the one hand, it is recognised that children’s books1 form part of a child’s education and, therefore, it is important what children read; on the other hand, there is a tendency to regard books for young readers as a ‘lower’ form of literature with a lesser value than literature for adults. One of the scholars defi ning children’s literature as of lower status in a social system is Zohar Shavit. Drawing on the concept of Polysystems, Shavit locates children’s literature on the periphery of the literary system, attributing it an inferior position in the literature of a society (see e.g. 1986:33-59). Similarly, Shavit claims that “the norms governing adult literature never simultaneously govern children’s literature” and that “it has become impossible to attribute ‘high literary quality’ to books for children” (1994:6). As much as this framework may fi t contemporary Western societies, it falls short in describing many of the former Eastern Bloc societies. This book explores the status of children’s literature in one of these states, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and analyses the reasons behind and the consequences of the different attitude to children’s literature in that society. As will be elaborated in the following chapters, children’s literature was ascribed an especially high value in the GDR. In fact, it is demonstrated in this study that, in the GDR, the systems of literature for adults and for children experienced the same development and that, indeed in some instances, children’s literature even functioned as the trendsetter, leading the way for mainstream literature. This, however, is not an isolated phenomenon; the same was true in other Eastern Bloc states. For instance, Mazi-Leskovar (2003:250-265; 2006:155-169), Dimitru (2006:73-82) and Tarrend (2005:66-96) report similar stances with regard to the function and status of children’s literature in their countries during the time of the Cold War, i.e. ex-Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Estonia.