Children's Reading As A Source Of Intertextual Inclusions In Fiction


The article looks into various intertextual inclusions (precedent names and precedent statements) in modern fiction that originate in children's reading. This is due to the orientation of modern fiction to the mass reader, which determines the use of children's literature texts as a translator of cultural symbols from “high” culture to ordinary consciousness. The ways of including precedent phenomena from the circle of children's reading in the texts of modern mass literature are demonstrated. They reflect the individual cultural experience of the author or character, the axiological significance of case names, their fixation in the language consciousness of readers since childhood, their functioning as speech templates that are filled in depending on the specific situation, participation in the mechanisms of creating a language game. The article analyzes the processes of transition of precedent phenomena into phraseological units, which are caused by the fixed elements of children's reading in the lexicon and thesaurus of a native Russian speaker. These units differ depending on the degree of precedent: cliché quotes, catch phrases, and new phraseological units. A special place is occupied by the problem of changing the cultural code, combining works of children's literature and cartoons in the thesaurus of the modern language personality. The article concludes emphasizing the presence of the entry of precedent phenomena from children's reading into the thesaurus of the modern language personality, in which they are characterized by socio-cultural fixity, resurgence in speech; cognitive-emotional relevance for members of one linguistic and cultural community.

Keywords: Children’s readingfictionintertextualityphraseologisationprecedent phenomena


One of the urgent problems of modern interdisciplinary research is the problem of a common cultural code that ensures the unity of the communicative space, the ability to adequately perceive cultural texts, and the cultural continuity of generations. The concept of a precedent text, associated with the combination of knowledge and representations of the national linguistic and cultural community, has become one of the key in the study of the modern language personality and modern text. The presence of a certain volume of precedent texts in person language consciousness allows us to judge the person characteristics and his or her ability to produce and perceive texts, taking into account their intertextuality (Nosova, 2017). In this regard, the study of the intertextual thesaurus of the language personality and its actualization in various types of discursive practices is of particular importance.

Problem Statement

The object of our attention is that extremely significant part of the intertextual thesaurus, which is often not realized by native speakers themselves, but is related to children's reading.

According to Genis (2013), children's books are like myths, they ask the universe fundamental questions. The answers to them are suitable for everyone, because children, and especially animals, and especially plush ones, do not have their own history, biography, or unique past. The characters in children's books are generalized and universal, like Olympian gods, Christian saints, or psychoanalytic archetypes. They, even the smallest, fit in themselves more than it seems. Using this, children's books contain the whole world and make it bearable... (p; 260)

A children's book embodies moral values that have remained constant for different generations. In Russian culture, there are many children's books “that are suitable for everyone”. Their significance in the national intertextual thesaurus is evidenced both by the results of associative experiments and the active use of inclusions from children's books in various types of texts.

Research Questions

In the following article we analyze the ways of using intertextual inclusions from children’s literature in modern fiction, including mass literature – the one that is being read by everyone. In accordance with the given problem, there are discussed the following issues in this article:

3.1. What is the reason for the active inclusion of precedent phenomena from children's reading by the authors of modern fiction and what functions do such inclusions perform in texts?

3.2. Which forms of inclusion of text fragments from children's reading are used by modern fiction?

3.3. What is the “phraseological status” of quotation fragments from children's reading?

3.4. How do precedent phenomena, related to children's reading, characterize the language personality of a modern reader?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this article is to study in what forms and for what purpose intertextual inclusions from children's literature are used in modern fiction, including mass literature – literature that is read by everyone.

Research Methods

The discussed issues led to the application of a set of general philological and specific methods involving the analysis of relationships between language, text and “person speaking” (author, reader) as objects of philology.

The methods used in the article are:

- contextual analysis, aimed at studying a language unit in linguistic, literary, cultural contexts;

- intertextual analysis, aimed at studying intertextual interaction, identifying quotes, determining their status, relationships with the source text, transformations and functions in the tests under study;

- functional analysis that reveals the essence of the existence of the text in the text, the significance of this phenomenon, explaining the emergence of additional meanings when using precedent phenomena in the author's text.


Mass culture occupies an intermediate position between the ordinary culture, mastered by a person in the process of his socialization, and a specialized, elite culture, the development of which requires a certain aesthetic taste and educational level, it serves as a translator of cultural symbols from the “high” culture to the ordinary consciousness, implementing this by simplifying and standardizing the transmitted information. Children's literature becomes an important element of this “transmission”.

The orientation of fiction to the mass reader determines the use of proven aesthetic samples, dependence on the classics (including classics of children's literature). A fictional text is characterized by an everyday language that does not claim to be stylistic innovation. Aimed at recognizing the familiar in a chaotic variety of phenomena, fiction is located in the zone of important and “eternal” moral problems. The texts of fiction reflect the general cultural code of the contemporary, they are evidence of “collective cultural identity” (Bragina, 2007) and a kind of mirror of the generation.

Fiction is an important source of information not only about the reader's genre expectations, author's strategies, the transformation of the “language personality”, the daily life of a person, but also about the direction of children's reading. Let's turn to the forms of including fragments of children's reading in the texts of modern fiction. These forms are diverse and reflect different author strategies.

In some cases, quoting the works of children's literature is associated with individual components of the intertextual thesaurus, and reflects the individual cultural experience of author or character. That is an illustrative example: “December whistled by. I studied meaningless books, evaded Musya’s insinuations, brushed my teeth on Sundays with unpleasant toothpowder, and did not blame the prior. As the character of the poem “Bullfinch”, which my mother read to me as a child: “It was dry, but I obediently put on my galoshes, I was so good – I didn't recognize myself.” They charged me – I fulfilled. They told me – I made it. But the character of the poem Barto received the coveted award: “I sought stubbornly, I did not mess around in vain. “Miracles –: my mother said, and bought a bullfinch.” They didn't buy me a bullfinch. No one wrote to me, of course. Not in a week, not in two, not in three” ( A. Archangelsky. Verification Bureau ).

The comparison of a very complex everyday situation with the situation depicted in the poem by A. Barto is related to purely individual associations of a young man, a graduate student of the philosophy faculty, on whose behalf the story is told. It is noteworthy that a children's poem is a kind of simplified formula for what is happening for an intelligent young person. At the same time, A. Barto's poem “Bullfinch” does not belong to the precedent verse texts of children's reading, which determines the necessary indication of the source of citation.

Much more often, modern fiction, and especially mass literature, demonstrates a steady appeal to precedent phenomena of various types, the reproducibility of which is associated with their unconditional fixation in the language consciousness from childhood. Thus, the character of K. Chukovsky's poem “Moidodyr” (“Washtoholes”) becomes a symbol of love for cleanliness. The use of the phrase “internal Moidodyr / moidodyr” (lowercase spelling indicates the transition of a proper name to a common noun) is significant in the following fragments of texts by different authors:

“Lilka mentally washed this apartment too, as if there was an internal Moidodyr in her that time” (G. Shcherbakova. Climbing king Solomon's hill with a stroller and Bicycle).

The correlation with the content of the case text determines the axiological significance of case names. Thus, the very common (usually in comparisons) name Papa Carlo is used in the meaning of “indefatigable worker” (often in combination with the verbs to work, to work hard ), regardless of the gender of the subject:

“And today is my shift, and Anton, I tell you, he is ill. Here I am alone here since the morning, like Papa Carlo , - open the gate, close the gate... ( A. Volos. Realty ).

“I will unload in Munich and start working for this “Siemens” for almost a month in Germany, like Papa Carlo , to work hard ( V. Kunin. Kysya ).

Such case names function as “value-marked and value-generating (axiogenic) cognitive-discursive world characteristics, the purpose of which is to preserve and transmit to contemporaries and future generations the most important results of life experience” (Karasik, 2019, p. 59-60).

Sometimes case names implement not only their own communication potential, but also a set of components of the case situation. For example, the names of characters in the fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs” are often used not only for ironic evaluation characteristics, but also in the context of comparing labor results:

“We live in a strong house, like the house of Naf-Naf , but it has a lot of one-room apartments, which will not fit any wolf” ( D. Rubina. Sunday mass in Toledo ).

“I will definitely, definitely buy an apartment in St. Petersburg, make a nest out of fluff, saliva, and the broken shells of my former lives, and build a hut out of sticks, like a second little pig, Nuf-Nuf . I'll drag in all sorts of household rubbish, cups and curtains, pots with white phloxes; I’ll sit by the window and watch other people's dreams” ( T. Tolstaya. Other people's dreams ).

“It wasn't because of me, it was because you lived in a straw house. Like a pig Nif-Nif. The most stupid and clueless. He was in a hurry, he wanted to build a house as quickly as possible, and so he built it out of straw!” ( T. Ustinov. Life, according to rumors, is the only one ).

Elements of children's reading texts, especially poetry texts, often act as speech templates that are filled in depending on the specific situation: “Natural reproducibility can be defined as the renewability / repeatability in the communication of stable phenomena, which is determined and dictated by culture and is often not realized by a person – the subject of language, culture, linguoculture, communication, either in the process of generation or in the process of perception” (Krasnykh, 2014, p. 13).

Natural reproducibility determines the existence of many precedent statements that are genetically associated with children's reading. For example, the line “what is good and what is bad” from a children's poem by V. Mayakovsky is used as a phraseological unit in various types of texts, in many cases actualizing the values of the national cultural code. Examole: “What is morality? The ability to distinguish between what is good and what is bad. But for whom is it good and for whom is it bad? Here it is easy for the moral instinct to make a mistake ( M. Gasparov. Notes and extracts )”. Connecting a precedent statement with “life values” and adding the ironic context, A. Berseneva recreates (retells on recognizable components) and elements of the entire precedent text: “Her values in life have always depended very little on external circumstances – perhaps because of her self-sufficiency and even selfishness. What is good and what is bad, Zhenya learned about the same years when she first read the poem of the same name by Mayakovsky – and now, remembering the old rhyme, was surprised to find that the poet was right. When “white” and “red” were nearby, you did not have to climb into the mud, beat those who are smaller, or, with a groan, run away from the crow. Wash your face in the morning and poke your finger in the book, too, regardless of what they write in the newspapers ( A. Berseneva. The age of the third love ).

Transmitting basic moral values, many classic texts of Soviet-era children's literature were placed in the ideological context of their time. In modern fiction, the ideological context of Soviet children's literature is often ironically reinterpreted: “For each mom there is a need. Every mom is good indeed”. This poem by Mikhalkov , which was read by all Soviet children at the kindergarten matinee on the Eighth of March, I never understood. I chattered glibly about mom- tram driver and didn't understand how it happened. Mom's a cook? Yes, someone must have been lucky. Who makes clothes for the kids? Definitely not my mother” ( M. Traub. My mother's stories ).

The above fragment recreates the “lifelong” fixation of fragments of a children's poem in the language consciousness (it is important to note the characteristic replacement of the adjective any with the synonymous different – such transformations of frequently used precedent phenomena are very common), and the mass replication of the text in Soviet times is ironically presented as a sign of Soviet discourse.

Gridina (2015), speaking about the gaming potential of the word specifically distinguishes lexical items “fit” for the language games already in the early stages of formation of the thesaurus of linguistic identity, as evidenced by associative experiments (e.g., hippo swamp← “to drag the hippo from the swamp”) . The given associative chain is reproduced in different ways in texts, either in the original version, or in a significantly transformed one (when the author is recognized by the reader). Of interest is the following fragment from the last novel by Ye. Vodolazkin:

“I put an ironic look.

– What if it's the President of Germany? – Nika straightens the napkin on Anna's lap. – Or mom, huh?

– The telephone rang, – I say thoughtfully. – Who's there?"

– Hippopotamus.

Having given a variant of the answer, Anna is again indifferent” ( E. Vodolazkin. Brisbane )

The final remark destroys the reader's expectations – the standard response ( Elephant ) embedded in the associative-verbal network, but it is quite correlated with the emotional state of the interlocutor, with the lines that end the poem by K. Chukovsky ( I will help if I can ) and acts as a veiled request for help.Modern fiction, and especially mass literature, is characterized by the active exploitation of certain formulas.

According to Cavelti (1996), formulas are ways in which specific cultural themes and stereotypes are embodied in more universal narrative archetypes. A formula is a combination or synthesis of a number of specific cultural clichés and more universal narrative forms or archetypes. (p. 35)

Speaking about the formality, clichéd mass literature, we should pay attention to the replication of the same precedent phenomena for the designation of a particular character, and favorite for some reason clichés go from one text to another. This is, for example, the phraseological formula “great and terrible” , in some cases slightly transformed:

“In the meantime, the longer she hesitates, the more ridiculous the situation looks, the longer she delays the Great and Terrible and delays the whole piquant episode with her delivery. “Thank you, Timofey Ilyich,” Katerina muttered in a false voice and climbed into the jeep” ( T. Ustinova. Personal angel ).

“The extent of her father's help was well known to her. A call to the Prosecutor General, a call to the Minister of internal Affairs, a call to the chief of the Security Council – who else is there from the great and powerful ? ( T. Ustinova. Divorce and maiden name ).

Notable is the actualization of the expression “owner of factories, newspapers, steamboats” from the satirical and highly ideologized poem “Mr. Twister” by S. Marshak, dated 1933. In fundamentally new social conditions, almost 100 years later, it is used to nominate not an “overseas” capitalist, but a domestic oligarch. New synonymous relationships ( owner of factories, newspapers, steamboats / owner of factories-newspapers-steamboats – oligarch ) are updated in the texts of different authors:

“A meter away from her, his index finger hooked on his jacket slung over his shoulder, stood an industrialist, politician, oligarch, governor, owner of factories, newspapers, steamships , banks, insurance companies, shipyards, automobile giants and candle factories, sawmills, factories, TV channels and God knows what else, Timofey Ilyich Koltsov” ( T. Ustinova. Suitcase with a bright future ).

“– Wait... – Ilyushin intently stared at the monitor. – Yes, of course, this is the Togoev, which I was thinking about.

He leaned back in his chair and drummed his fingers on the table.

- Owner of factories-newspapers-steamboats.

- Come on! – Babkin propped himself up on one elbow. Something does not look like that ...” ( E. Mikhalkova. Dancing marionettes ).

Precedent phenomena motivated by children's reading have different status in the cultural field of modern precedent. In the main mass, they are “text within a text”, that is, quotes from children's literature. A different quality characterizes reproducible phrases that have already acquired the properties of winged expressions (winged words): they are recorded in dictionaries and accompanied by an interpretation of the meaning or meanings , and not just a reference to the use in the author's text: All the king's men : 1. Publ. Smb’s henchmen, accomplices, unprincipled retinue, implicitly fulfilling the will of their master. 2. a large group of people, united by a common goal, concern, and profession; a company. Chip’n Dale: Rescue Rangers. About rescuers or in General about people who are in a hurry to help those in trouble (Shulezhkova, 2003); see also: the owner of factories, newspapers, steamboats ; firefighters are looking for, the police is looking for; Papa Carlo ; the last of the Mohicans.

If we consider the constitutive properties of winged expressions stability, aphorism, origin from a certain source, then this list can be supplemented with turns You got the tops, I got the roots (T. Ustinova, the Myth of the ideal man); the patient is more alive than dead (T. Ustinova, My personal enemy); the Steadfast Tin Soldier (E. Mikhalkova. Tender leaves, poisonous roots) ; as if by magic (T. Ustinova. Terrestrial attraction).

Many precedent phenomena are known to readers of mass literature not only (and often not so much) from the texts of children's reading, but also from children's cartoons (Chernyak & Huai, 2019), and their stability and aphorism is expressed in the communicative specialization: for example, in T. Ustinova's detectives, they serve as communicative and evaluative clichés that the author uses to briefly characterize the same type of situations or behavior of characters. Thus, the expression patient is more alive than dead is strongly associated with contexts that evaluate a detective investigation as confusing and complex, the result of which is unclear to participants:

“The coffee was ready just in time for Lada to fold the magnifying glass with a bang and say thoughtfully: “ The patient is more alive than dead . Looks like his handwriting. Or maybe it’s not his...” ( T. Ustinova. My personal enemy );

You got the tops, I got the roots – this is a kind of author's evaluation formula for a situation where one of the participants is deprived or deceived:

“Rodionov was taken aback. <...> You got the tops, I got the roots No, not like that. You got the roots, I got the tops , it seems that this is how a smart and lazy man cheated a hard-working, but not experienced in life bear, who did all the work for him and got – wheat roots!… Ideal of Russian turnability!” ( T. Ustinova. Bag with a bright future ).

“In the third variety of precedent statements, you can combine precedent phrases that only "survive" the process of phraseologization, for example, the Steadfast Tin Soldier, we be of one blood (thou and I), not an ordinary one, but a golden one, (as) two of the casket . They have not yet acquired the status of full-fledged phraseological units, with the usual idiomatics, but are already characterized by reproducibility, which is not just repetitiveness in the text or texts of one or more authors, but stability of form and meaning: for example, the phrase the Steadfast Tin Soldier is used in the meaning of 'a person physically weak, but strong in spirit’; we be of one blood can be interpreted as' close, identical in social status or tastes, habits and actions’; (as) two of the casket – ' about people who occupy a subordinate position and are obliged to unquestioningly follow the orders of the chief’. Such phrases are still so clearly connected with the environment in which they originated that they are perceived as metaphorical combinations with a living internal form, so their very existence allows us to observe the process of phraseologization of individual phrases and innovative processes in the field of phraseology as a whole.

The heterogeneity of precedent phenomena, motivated children's reading, largely explained by the different degree of involvement of the author's text in the case-base language, which is based on imprinting (Dyadechko, 2002). It seems that those of them that are “imprinted” from fairy tales, poems and stories, often not even read, but heard in childhood, have a higher degree of precedent (recognition and reproducibility) than, for example, precedent names and quotations from classical foreign literature, which are not included in the cultural competence of the mass reader.

In conclusion, let's consider a very revealing fragment of modern fiction from the new (2020) novel by the writer Elena Kolina. In six sentences, six intertextual inclusions are used, four of which are related to children's reading – the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”, the poem “Mail” by S. Marshak, and the poem “Aibolit” by K. Chukovsky:

“Instead of a basket, Little Red Riding Hood had a blue mail bag. She was delivering telegrams. She rang the doorbell and questioned “Who is there?” she answered with a ringing voice:” Leningrad postman”. Or, as in school , the “full answer ”: “Who knocks on my door with a thick bag on his belt? This is it, this is it, the Leningrad postman”. Sometimes she answered : “Here's a telegram from a hippopotamus”. ˂…˃. Once on the question “Who is there?” she said : “I am back in my city, dear to me like my tears...”, and from behind the door, without hesitating for a second, they busily clarified: “Like small veins, swollen glands of my infancy years?”, and she thought, what kind of cultured people are here in Leningrad, who love poems and jokes ( E. Kolina. I'm not an angel ).

Designed for the mass reader, the intertexts associated with children's reading are quite consistent with the line included in the text from O. Mandelstam's poem “Leningrad”, which in the mass consciousness corresponds not so much to a poetic text as to a popular song. The final fragment of the phrase “what kind of cultured people here in Leningrad, who love poems and jokes” reflects the typical author's strategies typical of mass literature (orientation to the intertextual thesaurus of the “average language personality”, recognizability of quotations, easy didacticism, covered with irony).


Thus, precedent phenomena motivated by children's reading and included in the modern fiction texts are characterized by such general features as the presence in the language memory of the majority of modern readers, although with varying degrees of actualization; speech renewability; cognitive-emotional relevance for the same linguistic and cultural community members.

The “children's” cultural memory capacity, associated with the childhood reader's experience, becomes the means of social, professional, and age characteristics of popular literature characters, fits them into the modern cultural environment and speech situation. The analysis of various contemporary fiction genres convinces that those precedent phenomena from children's books, characters names, their statements and attributes, are not just remembered at older ages, but are also preserved in the language memory of native speakers, are the basic part of the intertextual thesaurus and exist in it as constants of Russian culture.


  1. Bragina, N. G. (2007). Pamyat' v yazyke i kul'ture. [Memory in language and culture]. LRC Publishing House.
  2. Cavelti, J. (1996). Izuchenie literaturnyh formul [Literary formulas study], Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie [New literary review], 22, 33-64.
  3. Chernyak, V. D., & Huai, L. (2019). Lingvokul'turnyj potencial leksemy mul'tfil'm v zerkale slovarej [Linguocultural potential of the lexeme ”cartoon” (animated film) as reflected in dictionaries], Izvestiya Rossiyskogo Gosudarstvennogo Pedagogicheskogo Universiteta im. A.I. Gertsena [Izvestia: Herzen University Journal of Humanities & Sciences], 191, 59-64.
  4. Dyadechko, L. P. (2002). Krylatye slova kak ob’ekt lingvisticheskogo opisaniya: istoriya i sovremennost' [Winged words as an object of linguistic description: history and modernity]. Publishing and printing center “Kyiv University”.
  5. Genis, A. (2013). Uroki chteniya Kamasutra knizhnika [Reading lessons. Scribe Kamasutra]. AST Press.
  6. Gridina, T. A. (2015). Associativnyj potencial slova kak osnova lingvisticheskoj kreativnosti: eksperimental'nye dannye [The word associative potential as linguistic creativity basis: experimental data]. Journal of Psycholinguistics, 3(25), 148-157.
  7. Karasik, V. I. (2019). Narrativnoe izmerenie lingvokul'turnyh cennostej [The narrative dimension of linguistic and cultural values]. Language and culture, 47, 59-75. https:/
  8. Krasnykh, V. V. (2014). Lingvokognitivnaya priroda fenomena vosproizvodimosti v svete psiholingvokul'turologii [Linguistic and cognitive nature of the phenomenon is reproducible in the light of psycholinguoculturology]. Mir russkogo slova [The World of Russian Word], 2, 9-16.
  9. Nosova, E. P. (2017). Teksty K. I. Chukovskogo kak istochnik precedentnyh fenomenov [K. I. Chukovky’s texts as an origin of precedent phenomena]. Izvestia: Herzen University Journal of Humanities & Sciences, 183, 114-120.
  10. Shulezhkova, S. G. (2003). Slovar' krylatyh vyrazhenij iz oblasti iskusstva [Dictionary of winged expressions from the arts]. «Azbukovnik», «Russkie slovari» Publishing house.

Copyright information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About this article

Publication Date

27 May 2021

eBook ISBN



European Publisher



Print ISBN (optional)


Edition Number

1st Edition




Culture, communication, history, mediasphere, education, law

Cite this article as:

Didkovskaya, V., Chernyak, V., & Chernyak, M. (2021). Children's Reading As A Source Of Intertextual Inclusions In Fiction. In E. V. Toropova, E. F. Zhukova, S. A. Malenko, T. L. Kaminskaya, N. V. Salonikov, V. I. Makarov, A. V. Batulina, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, & A. M. Grinev (Eds.), Man, Society, Communication, vol 108. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 120-128). European Publisher.