Master of Arts in English Program in Children's Literature

What is the Program in Children's Literature?

W.W. Denslow, Tin Woodsman from L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz (1900) The Cat in the Hat, Harry Potter, Cassie Logan, Jo March, Starr Carter, Alice, Dorothy, Lions, Witches, Wild Things, and Tesseracts. These are some of the characters and concepts you can meet in the Program in Children's Literature at Kansas State University.

M.A. students in Children's Literature will study children's and young adult literature. A student might emphasize a particular period or region, such as nineteenth-century American literature, or a particular genre, such as picture books. Each student will work with faculty who have expertise in the area or in a field that compliments the student's focus.

Kansas State University has nationally known scholars of children's and young adult literature. We have six full-time faculty who teach children's and adolescent literature, and three of these faculty are specialists in the field.

What kinds of projects do students pursue?

Students in Children's Literature complete course work and final projects across a range of genres, periods, and authors. Recent final projects include:

  • “'Child Me, Adult Me': The Multigenerational Appeal of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender" (Morgan Shiver, MA '22)
  • “'Behind Blue Eyes': How P. Craig Russell’s Graphic Novel Turns Lois Lowry’s Cerebral, Political Classic The Giver Into an Emotional Masterpiece” (Rachael Cox, MA '21), essay subsequently published in Children's Literature in Education.
  • “The Life Adventurous”: Wanderlust in The Wind in the Willows" (Katherine J. Dubke, MA '21)
  • "'Perfectly Normal, Thank You Very Much': Dichotomous Hybridity as a Tool in Harry Potter" (Molly Burt, MA '20)
  • "Imagining Recovery: Reading Trauma Recovery Through the Manifested Imagination" (Mikayla Sharpless, MA '20)
  • "Potter, Pussies, and the Patriarchy: The Gendered Relationship Between Cats and Women in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series" (Katie Cline, MA '20)
  • "How could you become what you already are?: Coming of Age in Rita Williams-Garcia’s Gaither Sisters’ Trilogy" (Latrice Ferguson, MA '19)
  • "Contraception, Consent, and Community in Kristin Cashore's Graceling Trilogy” (Corinne Matthews, MA '17)
  • "Tending the Fire: Indigenous Masculinities in The Birchbark House Series" (Courtney Thompson, MA '20)
  • "'Let Us Find Another Picture to Cut Out': Child's Play and Narrative Construction in the Novels of Woolf and Bowen" (Chris Comer, MA '17)

Students may also pursue a combination of courses in both the Creative Writing and Children’s Literature tracks, with a home track in either and a final project of either creative work or children’s literature scholarship. Students planning to produce a final project of creative work should complete the required Creative Writing track coursework (three graduate courses in creative writing in a minimum of two genres, with at least two courses at the 700-level). See the Graduate Student Handbook.

Who should apply?

People who want to pursue children's literature at the graduate level, elementary and secondary teachers seeking professional development, and anyone who realizes -- as we do -- that it is fun to take Children's Literature seriously.

People who want to enroll full-time or part-time are welcome: professional educators, librarians, language arts instructors, and non-degree students.

How do I apply?

Prospective students may apply on-line or download the application forms from the Graduate School. If you are more comfortable with a paper application, you may request all the necessary application materials and program information from:

Director of Graduate Studies
Department of English
108 E/CS Bldg.
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-6501

Office Telephone: (785) 532-6716
FAX: (785) 532-2192

Online Application:
Request Application Forms by Email:

What financial support is available?

Most students in the Program in Children's Literature are eligible to receive financial assistance in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistantships. For more information about financial aid, go to the Graduate Studies page.

children's literature students at 2019 Mock Caldecott

Children's literature students at our Mock Caldecott, Dec. 2019

Who are the faculty and what do they work on?

Greg Eiselein (photo)Greg Eiselein teaches courses in American literature and cultural studies, and he serves as the Director of Graduate Studies. With Anne Phillips, he has co-edited The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2001) and the Norton Critical Edition of Alcott’s Little Women. The life and writings of Louisa May Alcott and the impact of pragmatism and evolution on nineteenth-century American culture are his current areas of research. More information.

Carol Franko (photo)Carol Franko teaches courses in fantasy and science fiction. Her articles have appeared in Science-Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, Journal on the Fantastic in the Arts, and Mythlore. More information.

Anuja Madan (photo)Anuja Madan teaches graduate courses in postcolonial children’s literature, multiethnic young adult literature, and mythological children’s literature. She conducts research on contemporary Indian children’s literature and media; graphic narratives; and childhoods. Her recent articles have been published in Graphic Novels for Young Adults and Children: a Collection of Critical Essays (2017), edited by Michelle Ann Abate and Gwen Athene Tarbox; The Routledge Companion to International Children’s Literature (2017), edited by John Stephens, Celia Abicalil Belmiro, Alice Curry, et al; Graphic Narratives about South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics, edited by Kavita Daiya; and the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. She is co-editing (with Naomi Wood) a special issue on postcolonial children’s and young adult fantasy for The Lion and the Unicorn. More information.

Philip Nel (photo)Philip Nel teaches courses in children’s literature and comics, and serves as the Director of the Program in Children’s Literature. He is the author or co-editor of thirteen books, including Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books (Oxford UP, 2017). With Eric Reynolds, he is co-editing Fantagraphics' five-volume collection of Crockett Johnson's Barnaby, which will reprint the complete run of the comic strip (1942-1952) for the first time. The most recent is Barnaby Vol. 4: 1948-1949 (2020). His latest book is the second edition of Keywords for Children's Literature, co-edited with Lissa Paul and Nina Christensen (NYU Press, 2021). More information.

Anne Phillips (photo)Anne Phillips specializes in children’s and adolescent literature, teaching a range of courses including “Illustration in Children’s Literature” and “Film Adaptations of Children’s Classics.” Phillips and colleague Gregory Eiselein have co-edited several books about Louisa May Alcott: The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia (2001), and the Norton Critical Edition of Little Women (2004), as well as two recent volumes for Salem Press, Critical Insights: Little Women (2015), and Critical Insights: Louisa May Alcott (2016). With Miranda A. Green-Barteet, she co-edited Reconsidering Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House and Beyond (2019). Recent presentations have focused on a transmedia adaptation of Little Women, The March Family Letters, Andrew Clements’ Phoenix Award-winning novel Frindle, and the ending of Little Women. Associate Department Head since 2000, Anne has served as the President of the Children’s Literature Association and chaired the MLA Division on Children's Literature. She is currently Past President of the Louisa May Alcott Society. More information.

Karin E. Westman (photo)Karin Westman specializes in Twentieth-century and contemporary British literature, including children’s and young adult literature of that period. She has presented and published on contemporary British culture in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, young fans of Hamiliton, modernism and children's literature, "cross-over" or "dual-audience" literature, and information literacy and technology in pre-service teacher education. With Naomi Wood and David Russell, she serves as editor for The Lion and the Unicorn (JHUP/Project Muse). More information.

Naomi Wood (photo)Naomi Wood
specializes in literature for and about children with particular interest in Victorian literature and culture. She has published on Victorian fantasists, Walt Disney's Cinderella, and modern works of fantasy by Virginia Hamilton and Philip Pullman. Her edited collection A Cultural History of Fairy Tales in the Long Nineteenth Century (Bloomsbury Academic) came out in 2021. She is currently researching post-colonial fantasy and fantastic theism. She has served the Children's Literature Association as chair of the Article Awards Committee, of the Anne Devereaux Jordan Committee, on the ChLA Board, the Publications Committee, and on the Diversity Committee. With Karin Westman and David Russell, she edits The Lion and the Unicorn (JHUP/Project Muse). More information.

Kadir Nelson speaks at the ChaLC Conference, April 2014

Kadir Nelson speaks at the ChaLC Conference, April 2014

What resources are available?

There are over 4,400 works of children's and young adult literature in the Juvenile Literature Collection housed in the Juvenile Reading Room at Hale Library. An additional 1,000-plus works are in Hale Library's Special Collections: many of these items belong to K-State's Cookery Collection (one of the top research collections of its kind in the United States); there are also numerous items in Special Collections by or pertaining to L. Frank Baum and Louisa May Alcott, as well as pop-up, movable, and toy books from the 19th through 21st centuries. Hale Library has hundreds of reference works on Children's Literature, including several scholarly journals.

What type of courses are offered?

We offer 600-800 level courses for our graduate students. During the past 15 years, we've offered a range of courses, including:

  • ENGL 630. Childhood and Dickens (Naomi Wood, Fall 2021)
  • ENGL 630. Victorian Fairy Tales (Naomi Wood, Fall 2019)
  • ENGL 670. Harry Potter in Context (Karin Westman, Fall 2014, Fall 2018)
  • ENGL 680. Radical Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Spring 2018)
  • ENGL 695. Censoring Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Fall 2023)
  • ENGL 695. Multiethnic Young Adult Literature (Anne Phillips, Spring 2023)
  • ENGL 695. Multiethnic Young Adult Literature (Anuja Madan, Spring 2019)
  • ENGL 695. Philip Pullman in Context (Naomi Wood, Spring 2017)
  • ENGL 703. Critical Approaches to Children's Literature (various instructors, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023)
  • ENGL 710. Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (Carol Franko, Summer 2019)
  • ENGL 710. Global Comics (Anuja Madan, Spring 2024)
  • ENGL 725/655. African American Children's Literature (Philip Nel, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020, Fall 2022)
  • ENGL 725. Film Adaptations of Children's Classics (Anne Phillips, Spring 2016)
  • ENGL 725. Illustration in Children's Literature (Anne Phillips, Spring 2024)
  • ENGL 730. Global Comics (Anuja Madan, Fall 2018)
  • ENGL 825. Seminar: Film Adaptations of Children's Classics (Anne Phillips, Spring 2013)
  • ENGL 825. Nostalgia and the Cultures of Childhood (Philip Nel, Spring 2024)
  • ENGL 830. Seminar: Comics and Graphic Novels (Philip Nel, Spring 2016)
  • ENGL 830. Seminar: Golden Age of Children's Literature (Naomi Wood, Spring 2015)

What are the degree requirements?

3 courses in Literature 9 hours
3 courses in Children's Literature
  • 600- or 700-level Children's Literature courses (e.g., ENGL 690: Topics in Literature for the Young)
9 hours
3 elective courses 9 hours
  • 1 may be ENGL 799
  • 1 may be outside the department
1 seminar 3 hours
30 credit hour total 30 hours


  • language proficiency
  • writing project
  • oral examination

For more information on degree requirements and policies, please visit the department's Graduate Student Handbook.

For More Information

For application materials or for more information about the Program, contact:

Philip Nel, Director
Program in Children’s Literature
Department of English
103 ECS Building
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-6501
office: (785) 532-2165
FAX: (785) 532-2192