This course traces the history of children’s literature in English from its beginnings through contemporary movements. It examines movements such as Romanticism, Rationalism and postmodernism as well as changing trends over the years.
Demers, Patricia. Heaven upon Earth: The Form of Moral and Religious Children's Literature to 1850. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993.
Demers, Patricia, ed. From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children’s Literature to 1850. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.
Dalby, Richard. The Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration. New York: W. H. Smith Publishers, 1991.
Hunt, Peter. Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.
Jackson, Mary V. Engines of Instruction, Mischief, and Magic: Children's Literature in England from Its Beginnings to 1839. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.
Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin. “Essentials: What is Children’s Literature? What is Childhood?” Understanding Children’s Literature. Ed. Peter Hunt. New York: Routledge, 1999. 15-29.
Critical Review Paper: This paper serves multiple purposes: first, to familiarize students with the journals that publish articles on children’s literature; second, to get students to begin to think about topics they find interesting in children’s literature; third, to have students begin thinking about their own assumptions regarding children and children’s literature. First, students will pick an author, book or topic in children’s literature that they would like to read about. It can be a book read for class; however, it does not have to be. At this point, explain to the students whatever library resources are available that can help the students with this project. In the paper, the students will do three things. First, they will explain how they found their articles; then they will write a quick summary of the article. The final part of the paper will focus on the students’ response. Students can focus on what aspects of the article were difficult to understand, and show exactly what was unclear. Students can choose to explain why they feel that the article is either right or wrong. Students can also choose to write about what they would do next if they wanted to continue researching this particular topic.
Annotated Bibliography: Have the students choose one text that was read for class, and then search for every piece of critical material that they can find on the text. The students will write one-paragraph summaries of the articles that they found. This can be used as a springboard for a later paper, or it can be an ending point itself as an exercise in research and learning the topics and issues in children’s literature. You may want to consider having the students give presentations on what they found, to expose the class to different aspects of children’s literature studies.
Fairy Tale Project: Students will choose one fairy tale, and find at three to five versions of it. They will then write a paper with three parts: first, they will introduce the time and place in which each version was produced. Then they will write about changes that have occurred across time and culture. Finally, the students will spend time analyzing the cultural implications of the variations. The students don’t need sources other than the variants of the fairy tales, but if they want to use them, that is fine. Be sure to discuss dangers of oversimplifying the cultural significance of fairy-tale images before students complete this paper. SurLaLuneFairyTales.com by Heidi Anne Heiner is a great source for locating variants of classic fairy tales.
Research paper: Students will pick one text for a close reading. Students will need at least three sources besides the primary text; it may be important to make sure that they do not rely solely on web sites.
Introduction to Part 1: “To Teach or Entertain?”
“On Three Ways of Writing for Children” C. S. Lewis
Introduction to Part 3, “Oral and Written Literary Traditions”
From The World of Storytelling Anne Pellowski
“How Spider Obtained the Sky-god’s Stories” Ashanti Tribe
From Aesop’s Fables “The Cat and Venus”… “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”
“John Henry” African American Ballad
“How Tortoise Cracked His Shell” Chinua Achebe
“Mutsmag” R. Rex Stephenson
“The Oral Tradition: Alive, Alive-oh” John Langstaff
From The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes Iona and Peter Opie
From An Appalachian Mother Goose James Still
“Reflections: The Uses of Enchantment” Bruno Bettelheim
“Reading Fairy Tales” Maria Tatar
“Little Red Riding-Hood,” “The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots,”
“Blue Beard” Charles Perrault
“Snow-white and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Rapunzel,” “The Water of Life” Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
“Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper” Charles Perrault
“Ashputtle” Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
“The Indian Cinderella” Cyrus Macmillan
“Cinderella: Saturday Afternoon at the Movies” Louise Bernikow
“Precepts, Pleasures and Portents: Changing Emphasis in Children’s Literature” Sheila Egoff
“The Relationship of Pictures and Words” Perry Nodelman
“Carius est nobis flagellari pro doctrina quam nescire” Aelfric
“The Shipwreck” Johan Amos Comenius
From A General History of Quadrupeds Thomas Bewick
From A History of British Birds, Vol 1 Thomas Bewick
From A History of British Birds, Vol 2 Thomas Bewick
“Of the Danger of Pleasure” John Huddlestone Wynne
“On The Care Which is Requisite in the Choice of Books for Children” Sarah Trimmer
“Against Idleness and Mischief,” “The Sluggard,” “Obedience to Parents” Issac Watts
“The Purple Jar,” “The Birthday Present” Maria Edgeworth
“The Old man’s Comforts and how he Gained Them” Robert Southey
“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” William Wordsworth
From Alice’s Adventure’s In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
“The Sad Tale of the Matchbox” Heinrich Hoffman
From A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Owl and the Pussycat,” “The Broom, the Shovel, the Poker, and the Tongs,” There was an Old Man with a Beard,” “There was an Old Man of Bohemia,” “There was a Young Lady Whose Nose” Edward Lear
From Caldecott & Co: Notes on Books and Pictures Maurice Sendak
Intro to part 5: Boys' Books and Girls' Books
“‘As the Twig is Bent…’ Gender and Childhood Reading” Elizabeth Segel
“Review of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” William Dean Howells
“Huck, Continued” E. L. Doctorow and David Bradley
From The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 12, “Tom Shows His Generosity” Mark Twain
From Little Women “Jo Meets Apollyon” Louisa May Alcott
From Anne of Green Gables Chapter 10 “Anne’s Apology” Lucy Maude Montgomery
“Fantasy” C. W. Sullivan
“Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?” Ursula K. Le Guin
“Liking and Not Liking Fantasy” Perry Nodelman
From The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum
From The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
“A Little Ghostly History” Leslie McFarlane
“Keeping Nancy Drew Alive” Sara Paretsky
From The Tower Treasure Franklin W. Dixon
From The Secret of the Old Clock Carolyn Keene
“Didacticism in Modern Dress” John Rowe Townsend
“Little Angels, Little Monsters: Keeping Childhood Innocent” Marina Warner
From The Saturdays Elizabeth Enright
From Ramona the Pest, Chapter 1 “Ramona’s Great Day” Beverly Cleary
From Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder
“Trusting the Words” Michael Dorris
“Insiders, Outsiders and the Question of Authenticity: Who Shall Write for African American Children?” Nina Mikkelsen
From New Boy in School May Justice
From Nobody’s Family is Going to Change Louise Fitzhugh
“Is that Book Politically Correct? Truth and Trends in Historical Literature for Young People” Hazel Rochman, Masha Kabakow, Diane Stanley
From The Birchbark House Louise Erdrich
“Discovery and Recovery in Children’s Novels by Native Writers” Jon Stott
“Realism and Children’s Literature: Notes from a Historical Perspective” Elizabeth Segel
From Forever… A Novel Judy Blume
From The Man Without a Face Isabelle Holland
From The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Christopher Paul Curtis
“Teaching Banned Children’s Books” Mark I. West
From Weetzie Bat Francesca Lia Block
From A Wreath for Emmett Till Marilyn Nelson
From Be Careful What You Wish For… R. L. Stine
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Sample syllabus prepared by Melody Green
Contact Tina L. Hanlon with questions or comments on this site.