LITR246 Children's Literature

Department of Language & Literature: Literature

I. Course Number and Title
LITR246 Children's Literature
II. Number of Credits
3 credits
III. Number of Instructional Minutes
IV. Prerequisites
V. Other Pertinent Information

The Department of Language and Literature has determined that all literature courses must require a minimum of at least 2500 words in writing assignments.
During the first week of class, the instructor provides students with a weekly suggested reading schedule for the semester.

This course meets the General Education requirement in Arts/Humanities.
This course meets the General Education requirement in Critical Thinking.

VI. Catalog Course Description
This course surveys the development of children's literature from oral folk tales through nursery rhymes, literary folk tales, modern fantasy, realistic fiction, and informational books. Students learn about poetry, prose, illustrations, fiction, and literary genres, study the dynamics of reading aloud, and explore creative techniques for presenting literature.
VII. Required Course Content and Direction
  1. Course Learning Goals

    Students will:

    1. analyze children's literature through discussion and writing [Critical Thinking & Arts/Humanities];
    2. demonstrate an understanding of such literary terms, themes, strategies, and issues as are relevant to the works being studied;
    3. express their understanding of the relationship between literature and the historical/cultural contexts in which it was written [Arts/Humanities];
    4. identify the benefits of reading aloud to a child or children by practicing on a weekly basis;
    5. discover how illustration (style, medium, and technique) affects the written text, as well as the history of both illustration and text in children's literature;
    6. recognize the different genres in children's literature and apply that knowledge to books they read;
    7. identify the elements of fiction used most predominantly in children's stories, plot, theme, setting, characterization, point of view, and style/tone, in combination with trade books that reflect the individual genres; and
    8. demonstrate an awareness of censorship, environmental issues, adolescent problems, social issues, and multi-culturalism in children's literature.
  2. Planned Sequence of Topics and/or Learning Activities


    1. learn about the history and development of children’s literature and illustration;
    2. learn about the elements of fiction and apply them to all genres in children’s literature;
    3. learn how to analyze and critique children’s literature and illustration;
    4. learn the dynamics of reading aloud by reading to children in appropriate settings;
    5. work in groups to read and present books as they would in a classroom situation;
    6. learn about poetry for children, including form, figurative language, and tone;
    7. learn about Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners by reading books of their choice;
    8. acquire an awareness of censorship, environmental issues, adolescent problems, social issues, and multi-culturalism in children’s literature;
    9. study the following literary forms and genres: poetry, prose, including traditional literature (including myth, legend, folk tales, fairy tales, tall tales, fables from both western and non-western traditions); modern fantasy (including fantastic stories, science fiction, modern folk tales, etc.); realistic fiction (including animal realism, problem realism, social issues realism, formula fiction, historical fiction); informational books (including bio/autobiography, concept books, social, physical, biological, and environmental sciences);
    10. research children’s literature topics to develop an in-depth appreciation of either specific authors or issues related to the field; and
    11. read books for in-class work and read additional stories as an outside reading activity.

    In addition:

    1. Students enter the course both with and without training in verbal analysis of literature; therefore, a subsidiary set of objectives dealing with literary analysis may be imported as individual student needs dictate.
    2. Reading remains the basic learning method available to students although various means of instruction are employed: lectures, group discussion, mock trials, role playing, individual or group presentations to the class, team teaching, library research, etc.
    3. Through reading, writing, discussion, and various class activities, students identify, explain, and analyze the following: formal elements of the literature, particularly images, image patterns, narrative strategies, diction, and structural divisions of the work; themes and thematic patterns; literary periods, movements, and terms as appropriate to the literature.
    4. The writing requirement complies with Department standards for literature courses, a minimum of 2,500 words. Writing assignments reflect the course goals that students can comprehend, interpret, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the literature.
    5. Because there are no prerequisites for literature courses, it is important that students understand the kind and quality of the writing expected.
    6. Students use various critical approaches as ways of assigning the meanings in the work; these include but are not limited to the major critical schools--humanistic, ethical, socio-cultural, historical (both the history of events and the history of ideas), psychological, mythical, and formal.
  3. Assessment Methods for Course Learning Goals

    To evaluate all learning goals and objectives, instructors may determine the depth and quality of student comprehension and critical thinking through several analytical essays (2500 words total required), exams, quizzes, journals, oral or multi-media presentations, class discussions, conferences with individual students, service learning projects, and other methods as necessary to course content.
  4. Reference, Resource, or Learning Materials to be used by Student:

    Students use a variety of texts, specifically trade books that reflect the various genres of children’s literature (see “Suggested Readings”), plus, at the instructor’s choice, a textbook that includes historical and pedagogical information about children’s literature. See individual course syllabi.

    Suggested Readings:

    For alphabet/counting/wordless/predictable books: various samples (like Animalia, City Alphabet, On Market Street, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Whale Song, A Million Chameleons, Tuesday) of these sub-genres will be studied in class with students sharing the books that they have found in these categories
    For nursery rhymes-poetry unit: an anthology of poems by one author or multiple authors and/or copies of selected nursery rhymes and poems
    For illustrations (black & white) and Caldecott award instruction: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
    For illustrations (color) and environmental themes: Farewell to Shady Glade or Wump World by Bill Peet or The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
    For traditional literature and plot/good vs. evil themes/motifs & patterns/stereotypical characters (women): Grimm’s Fairy Tales plus a collection or copies that include Greek, Roman, and Norse myths, legends, tall tales, fairy and folk tales like “The Indian Cinderella” (Native American), Charles Perrault’s fairy tales (France), and non-western tales, i.e., “The Korean Cinderella” and “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears”
    For modern fantasy and carryover motifs/patterns/setting/characters/archetypes: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl or Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt or Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Lisle
    For multiculturalism: Students find and present to the class two multicultural books, one from a western culture and one from a non-western culture, plus samples of folk art from many cultures will be reviewed, like Moon Lady (China) by Amy Tan, I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr., which uses nine African American Caldecott winning illustrators
    For fantastic/animal personification and style/tone/theme instruction: Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
    For problem realism and social issues themes/setting: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett or Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
    For formula fiction and modern perspectives on stereotypical characters (females): Students search, read, and share a formula fiction book, i.e., Sweet Valley High or Nancy Drew series
    For censorship: Any Judy Blume book and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, plus a book from a list of challenged/censored books
    For animal realism: Stone Fox by John Gardiner or Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds
    For historical fiction and Newbery award instruction: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry or Catherine Called Birdy by C. Cushman or Lily’s Crossing by K. Giff or Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
    For futuristic fiction: The Giver by Lois Lowry
    For informational books: a biography or autobiography (chapter book), student’s choice, plus samples of books that represent the various subgenres: humanities, social science, biological (natural) science, physiological science, and environmental science to be reviewed in class

Review/Approval Date - 7/00; Core Goals/Objectives added 4/04; Revised 5/2010; New Core 8/2015