Traditions and Adaptations in Literature for Young Children: Appalachian Emphasis


Summer 2005 Syllabus

English 535, Hollins University
Summer Graduate Program in Children's Literature, T/Th 2-5, Pleasants 320††††††††††††††††††††††
Professor: Tina Hanlon (Dr. Bettina L.)††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Phone this term:(362) 6506
Office Hours:10:30-12:30 T/Th
     And by appointment
     In Barbee living room or apt. A
E-mail:††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††
Permanent e-mail:†††††††††††† †††† †††††† ††††
Ferrum phone/voice mail:(540) 365-4327††††††††††††††††††††††††††††


SCHEDULE Course Description Required Texts Course Requirements Research Resources

Course Description:


This course will examine modern literature for young children as it recreates and adapts a variety of literary traditions originating in older oral and written sources.Alphabet and counting books, nursery rhymes, folktales, ballads and legends, historical picture books, animal tales and other forms of fantasy will be studied. Class discussions will focus primarily on picture books and some longer fiction for younger readers, along with some consideration of dramatic and film adaptations of traditional stories, and audio retellings. This year the course will focus on folklore and childrenís books of southern Appalachia, comparing regional tales and books with parallel stories in other traditions. Stories brought to Appalachia by European Americans and African Americans will be included, as well as Native American tales. As background, we will look at a few brief examples that represent the origins of each tradition, or the work of prominent Golden Age adapters/illustrators of traditional literature.We will consider a wide range of contemporary artistic and critical responses to traditional literature.For example, what happens to old stories when they are reinterpreted and retold in modern books?How have authors and illustrators adapted traditional literature to reflect modern views of humanity, society, and the natural world?What are the effects of retelling a tale from one cultural tradition with a new cultural setting or new sociopolitical purpose (such as persuading readers to protect the environment)?What are the benefits, difficulties, and pitfalls of classifying or analyzing literature by regional affiliation?What are the pitfalls of retelling traditional literature representing a culture that has a history of being marginalized, denigrated, or stereotyped (especially if the literature is comic or satiric)? How has the popularity of comic and satiric stories affected childrenís perceptions of traditional literature?Are postmodern experiments with traditional forms more appealing to children or adults?Selections from contemporary criticism of childrenís books will be discussed as the class considers these and other questions about literary traditions. 

Required Texts:

Lechner, Judith V. Allyn & Bacon Anthology of Traditional Literature. New York: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2004.

Chase, Richard.  Grandfather TalesBoston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948.

Hicks, Ray. The Jack Tales. As told to Lynn Salsi. Illus. Owen Smith.  New York: Callaway, 2001. (Not in bookstore but is on reserve and is sold as an e-book.)

Hall, Francie. Appalachian ABCs. Illus. Kent Oehm. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1998.

Lyon, George Ella.  Counting on the Woods. Illus. Ann Olson. DK Ink, 1998. (Out of print, on reserve)

Still, James. An Appalachian Mother Goose. Illus. Paul Brett Johnson. KY:  Kentucky UP, 1998.

Ross, Gayle. How Turtle's Back Was Cracked: A Traditional Cherokee Tale. Illus. Murv Jacobs.  Dial, 1995. (Not in bookstore, on reserve)

Lester, Julius. John Henry. Illus. Jerry Pinkney. New York:  Dial, 1994. 

Houston, Gloria. My Great-Aunt Arizona. Illus Susan Condie Lamb. New York:  HarperCollins, 1992. 

Lyon, George Ella.  Who Came Down That Road? Illus. Peter Catalanotto. Orchard, 1992. (Not in bookstore, on reserve)

Scieszka, Jon.  The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales.  Illus. Lane Smith. NY:  Viking Penguin, 1992.  (Out of print, on reserve) 

Dahl, Roald.  James and the Giant Peach.  (1961). New York: Puffin, 1996.

Yolen, Jane.  Touch Magic:  Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood.  2nd ed.  Little Rock: August House, 2000. 

Other required picture books, stories, videos, and essays are available on library reserve, on the Internet, on handouts, or on loan from the professor.  You will be required to watch several videos outside of class, which may include The Polar Bear King, a couple fairy tale films by Tom Davenport, one or more of Jim Hensonís Storyteller series, and/or the Ferrum Jack Tale Players video. For reserve books, see list for Tina Hanlon's course in Wyndham Robertson Library.

Course Requirements:

  • Class participation and reading (or viewing) assigned texts by class time are very important.

  • Critical paper:10-12 double-spaced pages, MLA documentation preferred (or APA accepted). Any topic is acceptable that has some connection with our study of childrenís literature that is based on oral traditions and/or regional childrenís literature. Drafts or outlines will be due July 12 (in time for you to submit to the student conference if you wish).Final paper due Thurs., July 28. Extensive use of critical sources is not required but there should be some reference to secondary sources; you should approach the paper as if it will be a publishable essay that does not ignore previous work on your topic or paraphrase the ideas of others without citing those sources. If you wish to show the breadth of your reading but don't cite all your sources in the essay, call your reference list Works Consulted instead of Works Cited.

  • Present your paper topic to the class:10-15 minutes (preferably on the day scheduled to discuss your topic if it falls within one of the traditions we cover as a class). Paper and oral report: 60% of course grade.

  • Reading journal, submitted on paper and/or e-mail, with at least one substantial entry on the assignments for each class period (not necessarily covering every author or picture book assigned).The journal must be submitted at least 4 times during the term, including the complete journal submitted by July 28.Journals are for informal writing and I wonít comment on style or editing unless you ask me to. These shorter writings can be reactions to your reading for that day or reactions to and further thoughts about previous class discussion (but donít do the latter every time).Also, if there are things you would like discussed in class or have questions you are reluctant to ask, the journal is a way of letting me know.(If you want some additional suggestions on things to try out in a reading journal, you might find something useful on the page for my undergraduate course in Folktales and Literature, at 30% of course grade.

  • Mini-oral report:You lead the discussion on a book or essay assigned for that day, or report briefly (about 5-8 minutes) on another critical book/essay or a literary text or film or tale type that fits into the category for that day. 10% of course grade.

Research Resources:


You should have attended the library orientation, or at least get a copy of the handout introducing some of the Hollins library basics and resources in childrenís literature.Donít forget that many books and articles are now available on the Internet or through databases and archives that the library subscribes to.


Public libraries can be good resources with large collections of picture books, videos and other books for children and YA, including out-of-print books.(The Hollins branch of the Roanoke County library is just up Peterís Creek Rd.)


On the class schedule, books or online texts from the required reading list and reserve books are ones you should be especially well prepared to discuss in class.Feel free to browse or make selections from other recommended texts, especially if they are collections of tales. Read as much as you have time for so that you have some background in the history of each tradition, Appalachian versions of that type of literature, and versions from other traditions that interest you.


For online research, a good place to start is the Childrenís Literature Association Links page,, because you know these sites were selected by scholars in the field.See especially the links on Mythology and Folktales. Many Web sites have information on individual authors and valuable bibliographies and teaching resources.


Kay Vandergrift has been a leader in creating excellent Web pages on childrenís literature.See Her Snow White site provided an influential model for me of what can be done with Web pages on fairy tales.Her other sections have valuable overviews of topics such as Social History of Childrenís Literature and illustrated childrenís books.


My Web sites focus on Appalachian literature—AppLit is at, and Dragons in Childrenís Literature, also have some pages on ecology and childrenís booksógo to my page at for links.I havenít updated these very much lately and AppLit is so big that we havenít kept up with improving and checking all our pages.If you are interested in any of these areas, I would love to have some contributions or help from you; even suggestions or notes on any errors or problems you find would be helpful, or annotations for books that are not listed or described already in AppLit.


Sur La Lune Fairy Tale Pages is one of the best sites on fairy tales, with many classic texts (some annotated) and lists of variants, modern spin-offs, illustrations, etc.: 


You may be interested in:

June 25, 2 p.m. Jack Tale Players perform at Booker T. Washington National Monument (his birthplace in Hardy, Franklin Co.)

Sing Down the Moon. Appalachian folk tale musical, Theater at Lime Kiln, June 29-July 30.


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This page created June 2005. Last update: July 6, 2005

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