Through our pilot study we wanted to investigate the representations of children’s and young adults’ illness, childhood, agency and competencies in Italian literary works. The analysis of the texts allowed us to highlight how the whole range of these representations is especially anchored to the evolutionary paradigm, which considers the acquisition of competency and agency as a linear and incremental process developing with age. Nevertheless, when stories of illness are related to serious or chronic pathologies, centrality attributed to age contradicts the importance of the lived experience of illness, the actual driving force for the acquisition of competency and agency. This contradiction is not limited to literary fiction, rather it is emblem-atic of more popular social representations related to the adults’ recognition of children’s com-petence about health and illness within their real daily life contexts.
Keywords: Childhood; Adolescence; Illness Representation; Agency; Competency; Children’s Literature.