Philip Nel > Courses > English 355: Literature for Children (Fall 2016)
English 355: Literature for Children
Required Texts
Schedule of Assignments
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: ECS 103
Office Hours: Tu 4-5, W 2:30-3:20,
& by appointment.





Sec. C: Tu-Th 1:05 - 2:20 p.m.

ECS 017

Last updated August 25, 2016

Required Texts:


        To introduce major genres in and conventions of literature for children, and to develop critical skills for reading, thinking and writing about children's literature. In order to foster these goals, you will keep a journal, take quizzes and exams, and participate in class discussions. In this class, education will not be a passive experience: I expect discussion, debate, and exchanges of ideas. You must be not only present but an active presence.

  Points Due
Quizzes 100 In class, day reading is due.
Class Participation 100 Daily.
Journal 280 Daily, before class begins. Graded after class on Aug. 30, Sept. 29, Oct. 27, Dec. 1.
Journal: Final Reflection 120 In class, Dec. 6.
Exam #1 (Midterm) 200 In class, Oct. 11.
Exam #2 (Final) 200 Dec. 13, 2:00-3:50 pm.
Total 1000  

Requirements: Journal | Quizzes | Class Participation and Attendance | Assignments

        Journal: Each class day (in other words, twice a week) before class, write in your journal.
PLEASE READ the full description of the Journal Assignment before continuing. Really. Trust me on this. Also, please remember: this entry is due before class begins each day. If you want a sample journal entry, my journal will provide that —  but my journal entries will only go live after class. (I want you to work through each text on your own before reading my take on it.)
  1. Compose each entry in Word (or the equivalent), and paste it into the Discussion space on Canvas (which can also be accessed via the Canvas App, if that's easier for you). Save the Word (or equivalent) document separately for your own disaster recovery and for your own future use.
  2. The journal is accessible via "Groups" section of our class in Canvas. Click on "Groups," and you'll find two Journals, one of which is followed by your surname & one of which is followed by my surname.
  3. For the one with your surname, click on the gear (at right) and then on “Discussions.” (You will be having a discussion with yourself —  and with me, since I'll be reading these.)
  4. Start a new Discussion for each Journal entry by clicking on the big purple "+ Discussion" button at top right.
  5. In the title, give the entry a number and a title.
  6. Paste your text into the Discussion space.
        The journal will become your own personal map through the course. As you'll see in the assignment itself, you'll record your key ideas about one of the works we read on a given day, supporting your analysis by pointing to important features of the art or quoting from the work under discussion. You'll conclude each entry with a reflection on the work's meaning, or what it tells you about children's literature, or teaching ideas. At the end of the term, you'll have insights on 28 days — a document you can download or print, and take with you.

        Sources: If you rely on sources other than those assigned, please use the MLA method for documenting them. Don't plagiarize. In all of your work, you pledge that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources -- most grammar handbooks provide guidelines for documentation. Remember: You must cite the sources of any ideas that are not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another's ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. If you have questions, please ask. If you plagiarize, you will automatically fail this course. For more information on Kansas State University's Honor System, please visit <>.
       Here is the university's Statement Regarding Academic Honesty: "Kansas State University has an Honor System based on personal integrity, which is presumed to be sufficient assurance that, in academic matters, one's work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor System. The policies and procedures of the Honor System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning. The honor system website can be reached via the following URL: . A component vital to the Honor System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: 'On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work.' A grade of XF can result from a breach of academic honesty. The F indicates failure in the course; the X indicates the reason is an Honor Pledge violation."

        Quizzes: Approximately 12 times during the semester, there will be a quiz. Sometimes the quiz will be announced, and sometimes it won't. But the quiz will always address the reading for that day. Because everyone can have a bad day, I will drop the lowest quiz grade.

        Class Participation and Attendance: Read everything, and come to class prepared to talk about what you have read. On the first day of discussion for each assignment, you must have finished the reading and be ready to discuss it. (Your daily journal entry will help you here.) "The reading" is all the text assigned for that day. We make sense of literature by discussing it. For this reason, class participation will count for 10% of your final grade. Discussion will take place in class. I reserve the right to assign homework or in-class writing projects that are not listed on the syllabus.
        Class attendance is required. Since the class meets twice a week, you are granted three absences, but more than three will lower your final grade by one increment for each absence (e.g., B+ would become B). I appreciate your offering explanations for absences; however, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from the dean. You cannot earn credit for work missed in class. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to discover what went on that day. "I didn't know because I wasn't in class" is never an acceptable excuse.
       You may use a portable computer or tablet for taking notes in class -- but that's all you may use it for. I know it's tempting, but please do not surf the web, check social media, chat with your friends, etc. Similarly, out of common courtesy, you may not text-message during class. And, either turn off or mute your cell phone. You need to be fully present during the two and a half hours we spend together each week.

       Email: My email address is Please use the subject line. You can write with questions, send a thesis statement or outline for an essay, make an appointment to meet me in my office, or do anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I check email regularly, but I am not on-line at all times.

       In case you need this advice, Wellesley has great advice on "How to Email Your Professor." Check it out. It's really good advice for professional communication of any kind.

Kansas State University's Statement Regarding Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities who need classroom accommodations, access to technology, or information about emergency building/campus evacuation processes should contact the Student Access Center and/or their instructor.  Services are available to students with a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to, physical disabilities, medical conditions, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety.  If you are a student enrolled in campus/online courses through the Manhattan or Olathe campuses, contact the Student Access Center at, 785-532-6441; for Salina campus, contact the Academic and Career Advising Center at, 785-826-2649.

Kansas State University's Statement Defining Expectations for Classroom Conduct:

All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws, Article V, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.


Kansas State University's Academic Freedom Statement:

Kansas State University is a community of students, faculty, and staff who work together to discover new knowledge, create new ideas, and share the results of their scholarly inquiry with the wider public. Although new ideas or research results may be controversial or challenge established views, the health and growth of any society requires frank intellectual exchange. Academic freedom protects this type of free exchange and is thus essential to any university's mission.

Moreover, academic freedom supports collaborative work in the pursuit of truth and the dissemination of knowledge in an environment of inquiry, respectful debate, and professionalism. Academic freedom is not limited to the classroom or to scientific and scholarly research, but extends to the life of the university as well as to larger social and political questions. It is the right and responsibility of the university community to engage with such issues.

Schedule of Assignments
Subject to change.

[W] = Web. [C] = Canvas. [R] = On Reserve (at Hale Library). [X] = Not in library; I'll bring this to class.

Note: "through" means "to the end of" (not "up to"). Page numbers refer to the editions assigned.

Introduction to Literature for Children
August T 23 Introduction. Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree (1964).
  Th 25 A Brief History of Literature for Children [C]; Mary Martha Sherwood, "Fatal Effects of Disobedience to Parents" (pp. 153-161) from History of the Fairchild Family (1818); Robert Southey, "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them" (1799); Isaac Watts, "Against Idleness and Mischief" (1715) [all W]; Lewis Carroll, Chapter 1 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland(1865); Jon Klassen, I Want My Hat Back (2011) [R]; Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail, One Word from Sophia (2015) [X].
Fairy Tales and Revisions
  T 30 "Little Red Riding Hood" tales [C]; Ed Young, Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (1989) [R]. Journals graded today.
September   Th 1 Joseph Jacobs, "The Story of the Three Little Pigs" (1898) [W]; James Marshall, The Three Little Pigs (1989); Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf (1989); Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig (1993); David Wiesner, The Three Pigs (2001) [all R].
Poetry, Sense, & Nonsense
   T 6 Poems [C]; selections from X. J. Kennedy, Knock at a Star: Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” (p. 83); David McCord, "The Pickety Fence" (p. 76); Anon., “Spring Is Sprung” (p. 7); Douglas Florian, “Commas” (p. 3); Sarah N. Cleghorn, “The Golf Links” (p. 23); Jack Prelutsky, “I Wave Good-bye When Butter Flies” (p. 109); Ruth Whitman, “Listening to Grownups quarrelling” (p. 35); Ted Kooser, “Country School” (p. 38); Rose Rauter, “Peach” (p. 68); selections from X. J. Kennedy, Knock at a Star: Ted Kooser, “Child Frightened by a Thunderstorm” (p. 94); Morris Bishop, “Song of the Pop-bottlers” (p. 105).
   Th 8 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
  T 13 Carroll, "Jabberwocky" (pp. 116-19) and "Humpty Dumpty" (pp. 159-68) from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There(1872). For those who wish to read these on-line, "Jabberwocky" can be found near the end of Chapter 1 (when you get to the page, scroll down), and Chapter 6 features Humpty Dumpty. Edward Lear, "The Owl and the Pussycat," "The Jumblies," and "The Table and the Chair" from Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets (1871): <>. [W]. Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, illus. Jules Feiffer (1961), through Ch. 5
  Th 15 Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, to end.
  T 20 Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (1957),The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961), Horton Hears a Who! (1954), Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958), The Lorax (1971), The Butter Battle Book (1984) [all R]. How World War II Created Dr. Seuss: images used in today's class.
Picture Books: The Art of Picture Books
  Th 22 Molly Bang, Picture This (1991).
  T 27 Leo Lionni, Frederick (1967); Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (1991); Jon Agee, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (1988) [R]; Suzy Lee, Shadow (2010) [R] Mac Barnett et al, "Proclamation!" (2011) [W]
  Th 29 John Burningham, Mr. Gumpy's Outing (1970) [R]; “Decoding the images: how picturebooks work” (2005) [C]; Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955); Chih-Yuan Chen, Guji Guji (2004) [R]; Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, Henry Cole, ...And Tango Makes Three (2005) [R]. Journals graded today.
October   T 4 Carolivia Herron, Nappy Hair, illus. by Joe Cepeda (1988); Lynn Reiser, Margaret and Margarita / Margarita y Margaret (1993); Judy Schachner, Skippyjon Jones (2003); Duncan Tonatiuh, Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin (2010) [all R].
  Th 6 Ann Jonas, Round Trip (1983); David Macaulay, Black and White (1990); Chris Van Allsburg, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984); Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992); Emily Gravett, Wolves (2006) [all R]; Jon Scieszka, "Design Matters," The Horn Book (1998) <> [W].
  T 11 Exam #1 (Midterm).
  Th 13 Bank Street: Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, illus. by Clement Hurd (1947) [R]; Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig, illus. by Maurice Sendak (1952) [R]; Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970) [R]; Emily Hughes, Wild (2013) [R].
Novels (1): Early Readers, Comics/Graphic Novels, Horror
  T 18 Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (1972); James Marshall, George and Martha (1972) [R; the first book in the big anthology]. Cece Bell, El Deafo (2014), Chapters 1 & 2 (through page 22).
  Th 20 Cece Bell, El Deafo (2014), to end.
  T 25 Neil Gaiman, Coraline (2002).
Novels (2): Family Stories, Historical Fiction, Realism, Memoir, Fantasy
  Th 27 Tove Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll (1958), through Chapter IV. Journals graded today.
November   T 1 Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll, to end.
  Th 3 Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer (2010) up through "Big Red S" chapter (p. 110).
  T 8 Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer, to end.
  Th 10 Pam Muñoz Ryan, Becoming Naomi Leon (2004), to p. 136.
  T 15 Ryan, Becoming Naomi Leon, to end.
  Th 17 Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), through Part II (p. 138).
  T 28 Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming, to end.
December   Th 1 Shaun Tan, The Arrival (2006). Journals graded today.
  T 6 J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998), through Chapter 9 (p. 162); Russell, "Children's Books and the Censor" [C]. Final Reflection DUE today.
  Th 8 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, to end. Conclusion and Review.
  T 13 Exam #2 (Final). 2:00-3:50 pm.

Recommended Resources: Contexts (for Journals) | Blogs | Censorship | Diversity | Writing | Research | Education

Contexts (for Journals)




  • NAME, the National Association for Multicultural Education
  • Reading While White: “Allies for Racial Diversity & Inclusion in Books for Children and Teens”
  • Teaching for Change: offers an anti-bias curriculum, resources for teaching about the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, recommended books, and ways for parents to get involved.
  • We Need Diverse Books


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