Philip Nel > Courses > English 355: Literature for Children (Spring 2007)

English 355: Literature for Children
Sec. A: MWF 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.
Sec. B: MWF 12:30 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.
ECS 017
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: ECS 103
Office Hours: M 3:30-5 p.m., Tu 7:30-9 p.m. & by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours:
Syllabus last updated on Monday, April 2, 2007.
Required Texts:
  • Molly Bang, Picture This (Seastar).
  • L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Dover).
  • Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, edited by Donald J. Gray, 2nd ed. (Norton).
  • Andrew Clements, Frindle (Aladdin Paperbacks).
  • Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963 (Bantam).
  • Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (HarperCollins)
  • Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (HarperCollins).
  • Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (Random House).
  • Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand, illustrated by Robert Lawson (Puffin).
  • Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking (Puffin).
  • Leo Lionni, Frederick (Knopf).
  • Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (HarperCollins).
  • Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard (Dell Yearling).
  • Katherine Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins (Harper).
  • Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (Dragonfly Books).
  • J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Scholastic).
  • Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are (HarperCollins).
  • Class Pack for English 355. Available in Eisenhower Copy Center.
        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 and culture. In order to foster these goals, you will write two papers, take quizzes and exams, make regular postings to your section's message board, 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.




100 (total for all quizzes)   

In class, day reading is due.

Class Participation &   



Message Board    


Midterm Exam


In class, 2/23.

Paper 1


At the beginning of class, 3/16.

Paper 2 150 At the beginning of class, 4/30.

Final Exam


In class:
Sec. A, 11:50 a.m. - 1:40 p.m., 5/11.
Sec. B, 4:10 - 6:00 p.m., 5/8.



Requirements: Papers | Quizzes | Class Participation and Attendance | Computing | Assignments
        The papers must: be typed (preferably word-processed) and double-spaced; include a title, your name, and the date; and have numbered pages that are stapled or paper-clipped together. Late papers will be penalized one grade (e.g., B+ to C+) for each day late.
        Sources: Use the MLA method for documenting sources. And don't plagiarize. When you turn in a paper, you pledge that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources -- most grammar handbooks provide guidelines for documentation. Always 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 any questions, please ask. If you plagiarize, you will automatically fail this course. For more information on Kansas State University's Honor System, please visit <>.
        Approximately 12 times during the semester, there'll be a quiz. Sometimes the quiz will be announced, and sometimes it won't. But it will always address the reading for that day. Because everyone can have a bad day, I'll 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 class discussion for each assignment, you must have finished the reading and be ready to discuss it. By "the reading," I mean all of the text assigned for that day. This class will be based on discussion, so class participation is expected, and will count for 20% of your final grade. Discussion will take place both in class, and out of it, via the Message Board (explained below). 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 three times a week, you are granted three absences, but more than three will lower your final grade by one grade 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.
        Computing -- the Internet, the Electronic Bulletin Board, and Email:
        Our sections of ENGL 355 will emphasize technology, which is now a component of the state licensure requirements, including the standards for English Language Arts. Consequently, we will be meeting in ECS 017, a computer classroom, and you will also be asked to participate in a Message Board. Our work with computers is designed not only as another forum for discussing our reading, but also as a way for you to sharpen your communication skills, media skills, and web skills for an increasingly technological age.
        The Internet: For your reference, a hyperlinked version of this syllabus is on-line. Go to <> and click on "Courses." I have linked authors' names to relevant webpages, listed web and library resources, and I have provided links the paper assignments.
        Message Board: Post comments to the message board every other week (though you may of course post more frequently, if you wish). An average posting should run about one or two paragraphs in length. In other words, your postings do not need to be long, but they must be substantive -- long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments, as appropriate. I will monitor these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness to both our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the message board. Though extra postings to the message board will not automatically replace participation in our class discussions, regular contributions above and beyond your weekly posting can certainly improve your class participation grade.
        You can access the message board via K-State On-Line.
  1. First, log in to our class on K-State On-Line.
  2. At top left, choose the "Collaboration" menu.
  3. Next, choose "Message Board."
  4. Then, choose Section A (if you're in the 11:30 class) or Section B (if you're in the 12:30 class).
  5. To post, you may either reply to a message (when you're reading a message, there's a "Reply" option) or begin a new thread (by selecting "New Thread" at top right).
        Email: My email address is Please use the subject line. Due to the increased volume of spam, messages without clear subject lines will be deleted unread. If you need help establishing an email account and learning to use email, please visit the Office of Telecommunications at 109 East Stadium or <> to find out what you have to do. Although I do not require you to use email, I encourage you to use email as a way of touching base with me. You can write me with questions, send a thesis statement or outline for an essay, make an appointment to meet me in person, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I tend to check email several times a day, but please keep in mind that I am not on-line at all times. You can access email at the various computer labs around campus: Hale Library, Student Union, 21 Nichols Hall, 22-25 Seaton Hall, 1-1A Dickens Hall, and 325 Justin Hall and in some residence halls (visit <> for more details).

Schedule of Assignments
Subject to Change
[W] = Web. [CP] = Class Pack. [R] = On Reserve (at Hale Library). [*] = Not in Hale Library, so don't worry: I'll bring it in and we'll read it in class.
Note: "through" means "to the end of" (not "up to"). Page numbers refer to the editions assigned.
Introduction to Literature for Children
January F 12 Introduction. Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree (1964).
M 15 Martin Luther King Day.
W 17 A Brief History of Literature for Children. Items 2, 3, and 4 in the Class Pack [CP].
F 19 Anthony Browne, Changes (1990); Bryan Collier, Uptown (2000); Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (illus.), Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2000); Rachel Isadora, Ben’s Trumpet (1979); Mo Willems, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003); Chih-Yuan Chen, Guji Guji (2004) [all R]. Perry Nodelman's "Pleasures of Literature" [W].
Fairy Tales and Revisions
M 22 "Little Red Riding Hood" tales [CP]; Ed Young, Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (1989) [R]
W 24 Joseph Jacobs, "The Story of the Three Little Pigs" (1898) [CP]; 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, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, illus. Helen Oxenbury (1993) David Wiesner, The Three Pigs (2001) [all R].
Poetry, Sense, and Nonsense
F 26 The selected poems in the Class Pack.
M 29 The selected poems in the Class Pack, continued. Close-Reading and Teaching (the handout used in today's class).
W 31 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
February F 2 Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), continued.
M 5 Carroll, "Jabberwocky" (116-19) and "Humpty Dumpty" (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 Chatper 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].
W 7 L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), through Chapter 11.
F 9 Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), continued.
M 12 Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, illus. Jules Feiffer (1961)
W 14 Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, continued.
F 16 Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (1957), The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958), Green Eggs and Ham (1960) [all R].
M 19 Seuss, The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961), Horton Hears a Who! (1954), Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958) [all R]. How World War II Created Dr. Seuss: web-based "slide show" used during today's class.
W 21 Seuss, The Lorax (1971), The Butter Battle Book (1984) [R].
F 23 Midterm Exam. Click on this sentence to see the exam format. If interested, consider taking The Vark Questionnaire to see how you learn.
Picture Books (1): The Art of Picture Books
M 26 Molly Bang, Picture This (1991); Leo Lionni, Little Blue and Little Yellow (1959) [R].
W 28 Lionni, Frederick (1967); Crockett Johnson, A Picture for Harold's Room (1960) [R]; Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (1991); Jon Agee, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (1988) [R].
March F 2 Dr. Seuss's Birthday. No class. Have some green eggs and ham. Or not.
M 5 Allen Say, Grandfather's Journey (1993) [R]; Carolivia Herron, Nappy Hair, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (1988) [R]; Christopher Myers, Black Cat (1999) [R]; Peter Sis, Madlenka (2000) [R].
W 7 Quint Buchholz, Sleep Well, Little Bear (1994) [R]; David Wiesner, Free Fall (1988) [R]; Ann Jonas, The Trek (1985) [R]; Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji (1982) [R].
F 9 Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand (1936); Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House (1942) [R].
M 12 Ann Jonas, Round Trip (1983) [R]; David Macaulay, Black and White (1990) [R]; Chris Van Allsburg, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984) [R]; Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992) [R].
Picture Books (2). When We Were Very, Very Young: The Bank Street Group and Beyond
W 14 Bank Street: Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947) [R]; Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig (1952), illustrated by Maurice Sendak [R].
F 16 Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955); Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970) [R]. Paper #1 DUE in class.
Novels (1): Easy Readers and Middle-Grade Readers
M 26 Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (1972).
W 28 Andrew Clements, Frindle (1996).
F 30 Clements, Frindle, cont'd.
April M 2 Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998).
W 4 Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998), cont'd.
F 6 Katherine Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978), through p. 93 (up to the beginning of the "The One-Way Ticket" chapter).
M 9 Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978), to end.
W 11 Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking (1950).
Novels (2): Historical Fiction, Family Stories, Fantasy
F 13 Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963 (1995), through Chapter 8 (p. 120)
M 16 Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963, to end.
W 18 Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard (2001), through Chapter 7.
F 20 Park, A Single Shard, to end.
M 23 J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998), through Chapter 7 (p. 130).
W 25 No class. Work on your papers.
F 27 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, through Chapter 12 (p. 214).
M 30 Russell, "Children's Books and the Censor" [CP]. Paper #2 DUE in class.
May W 2 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, to end.
F 4 Conclusion and Review
T 8 Sec. B (the 12:30 section): Final Exam, 4:10 to 6 p.m. You must take the final exam on the day and at the time scheduled for your section. NO EXCEPTIONS. MARK YOUR CALENDARS.
F 11 Sec. A (the 11:30 section): Final Exam, 11:50 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. You must take the final exam on the day and at the time scheduled for your section. NO EXCEPTIONS. MARK YOUR CALENDARS.

Recommended Resources

In the Library

Anita Silvey, Children's Books and Their Creators (1995), 100 Best Books for Children (2004); Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard (editors), The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (1984); Babara Bader, American Picturebooks from Noah's Ark to the Beast Within (1976); Leonard S. Marcus, A Caldecott Celebration (1998), Author Talk (2000), Five Picture-Book Teams Go to Work (2001), Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book (2002), Pass It Down: Five Picture Book Families Make Their Mark (2007), and others; the Something About the Author series (1971-); the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vols. 22, 42, 52, 61, 141, 160, 161, 163, and any other of the volumes devoted to Children's Literature (1983-); the Children's Literature Review series (1976-); the Junior Book of Authors series (1934-89); Barbara Rollock (editor), Black Authors and Illustrators of Children's Books: A Biographical Dictionary (1992); Althea K. Helbig and Agnes Regan Perkins, This Land Is Our Land: A Guide to Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults (1994); Michelle Martin, Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Children's Picture Books, 1845-2002 (2004).

On the Web

Resources for writing:

Imagery and Figurative Language
Thesis vs. Topic
Keys to Structure and Style
William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style

Resources for research:

KSU Libraries' Databases
Oxford English Dictionary

Kansas Dept. of Education

Kansas State Dept. of Education's Curricular Standards for Reading Education


Required Texts | Objectives | Grading | Requirements | Bulletin Board | Schedule of Assignments | Recommended Resources
Philip Nel | Courses | Books | Blog | Crockett Johnson Homepage | Don DeLillo Society | Links | Self-Promotion | Site Map | FAQ
Program in Children's Literature | Department of English | Kansas State University

Copyright © 2001-2010 Philip Nel. Please read the Disclaimer.
This page was last updated August 1, 2010