Philip Nel > Courses > English 355: Literature for Children (Spring 2011)

English 355: Literature for Children
Required Texts
Message Board
Schedule of Assignments
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: ECS 103
Office Hours: M 3:30-5 p.m.,
W 9:15-10:15 a.m. & by appointment.




Sec. B: MWF 1:30 - 2:20 p.m.

Sec. C: MWF 2:30 - 3:20 p.m.

ECS 017

Last updated Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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 and culture. In order to foster these goals, you will write three 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.

  Points Due
Quizzes 100 In class, day reading is due.
Class Participation & 200 Daily.
Message Board Weekly.
Midterm Exam 200 In class, Mar. 10.
Paper, Part 1 100 In class, Jan. 26.
Paper, Part 2 100 In class, Mar. 30.
Paper, Part 3 100 In class, May 4.

Final Exam


In class:  Sec. B: May 12, 11:50 - 1:40 p.m.
  Sec. C: May 9, 4:10 - 6:00 p.m.
Total 1000  

Requirements: Papers | Quizzes | Class Participation and Attendance | Technology | Assignments

        Papers: The papers must be typed (word-processed) and double-spaced; include a title, your name, the date; and have numbered pages that are stapled 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. 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. 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 <>.

        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. "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 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 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.
        If you have medical reason for doing so, you may (if you provide documentation to me at the start of the term) use a portable computer for taking notes in class -- but that's all you may use it for. If you lack such a reason, then you must put your laptop away during class. Similarly, out of common courtesy, you may not text-message during class. And turn off your cell phone.
        Technology is a component of the state licensure requirements, including the standards for English Language Arts. For this reason, we are meeting in ECS 017 (a technology classroom) and you will participate in an electronic message board. Our work with computers should serve not only as a forum for discussing our reading, but also as a way for you to sharpen your communication skills and web skills for an increasingly technological age.
       This syllabus is on-line, available through the "Courses" section of my homepage: <>. I have linked authors' names to relevant webpages, listed resources, and provided links to the paper assignments.

        Message Board: Post comments to the message board every other week (or more frequently, if you wish). An average posting should run 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 asses 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 in comments on the message board. Though extra postings to the message board will not automatically replace participation in class discussions, regular contributions above and beyond your weekly posting can improve your class participation grade.

       Access the message board via K-State On-Line.

  1. Log in to our class on K-State On-Line.
  2. At left, choose "Message Board."
  3. Then, choose Section B (if you're in the 1:30 class) or Section C (if you're in the 2:30 class).

       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. 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 several times daily, but I am not on-line at all times.

Schedule of Assignments
Subject to change.

[W] = Web. [CP] = Class Pack. [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
January W 19 Introduction. Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree (1964).
  F 21 A Brief History of Literature for Children. Item 3 in the Class Pack; Mary Wollestonecraft, from Moral Conversations and Stories (1788); Maria Edgeworth, "The Story of the Purple Jar" (1801); Mary Martha Sherwood, 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 CP]
  M 24 Items 1 and 2 in the Class Pack. Anthony Browne, Changes (1990); Bryan Collier, Uptown (2000); Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, Click, Clack Moo: Cows that Type (2000); Mo Willems, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003); Chih-Yuan Chen, Guji Guji (2004); Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit (1902) [all R]; Perry Nodelman's "Pleasures of Literature" [W].
  W 26 Paper DUE: How to Read Children's Literature, Part I. In-class discussion of same.
Fairy Tales and Revisions
  F 28 "Little Red Riding Hood" tales [CP]; Ed Young, Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (1989) [R].
   M 31 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 and Helen Oxenbury, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig (1993); David Wiesner, The Three Pigs (2001) [all R].
Poetry, Sense, & Nonsense
February   W 2 Poems in Class Pack; 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).
  F 4 Poems in Class Pack; selections from Kennedy, Knock at a Star: Ted Kooser, “Child Frightened by a Thunderstorm” (p. 94); Morris Bishop, “Song of the Pop-bottlers” (p. 105).
  M 7 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
  W 9 Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, cont.
  F 11 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].
  M 14 Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, illus. Jules Feiffer (1961), through Ch. 10.
  W 16 Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, to end.
  F 18 Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (1957),The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958), Green Eggs and Ham (1960) [all R].
  M 21 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: images used in today's class.
  W 23 Seuss, The Lorax (1971), The Butter Battle Book (1984) [both R].
Picture Books (1): The Art of Picture Books
  F 25 Molly Bang, Picture This (1991).
  M 28 Leo Lionni, Frederick (1967); Crockett Johnson, A Picture for Harold's Room [R]; Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (1991); Jon Agee, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (1988) [R].
March W 2 Allen Say, Grandfather's Journey (1993); Carolivia Herron, Nappy Hair, illus. by Joe Cepeda (1988); Peter Sis, Madlenka (2000); Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, Henry Cole, ...And Tango Makes Three (2005) [all R].
  F 4 Lynn Reiser, Margaret and Margarita / Margarita y Margaret (1993); Judy Schachner, Skippyjon Jones (2003); Gary Soto, Chato's Kitchen (1995) [all R].
  M 7 David Wiesner, Tuesday (1991); Ann Jonas, The Trek (1985); Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji (1982) [all R].
  W 9 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) [all R]; Jon Scieszka, "Design Matters" <> [W or CP].
  F 11 Midterm Exam.
Picture Books (2): When We Were Very, Very Young: The Bank Street Group and Beyond
  M 14 Bank Street: Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, illus. by Clement Hurd (1947); Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig, illus. by Maurice Sendak (1952) [both R].
  W 16 Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955); Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970) [R].
Novels (1): Easy Readers and Middle-Grade Readers
  F 18 Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (1972).
  M 28 James Marshall, George and Martha (1972); Cynthia Rylant, Poppleton, illus. Mark Teague (1988) [both R].
  W 30 Paper DUE: How to Read Children's Literature, Part II. In-class discussion of same.
April F 1 Andrew Clements, Frindle (1996).
  M 4 Clements, Frindle.
  W 6 Neil Gaiman, Coraline (2002), through Chapter VI (p. 81).
  F 8 Gaiman, Coraline (2002), to end.
  M 11 Katherine Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978), up to "The One-Way Ticket" chapter (p. 93).
  W 13 Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins, to end.
  F 15 Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998), up through Chapter 8 (p. 82).
  M 18 Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, to end.
Novels (2): Historical Fiction, Family Stories, Fantasy
  W 20 Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963 (1995), through Chapter 8 (p. 120)
  F 22 Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963, to end.
  M 25 Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard (2003), through Chapter 7 (p. 86).
  W 27 Park, A Single Shard, to end.
  F 29 J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998), through Chapter 7 (p. 130).
May M 2 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, through Chapter 12 (p. 214).
  W 4 Russell, "Children's Books and the Censor" [CP]. Paper DUE: How to Read Children's Literature, Part III. In-class discussion of same.
  F 6 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, to end. Conclusion and Review.
    You must take the final exam on the day and at the time scheduled for your section. NO EXCEPTIONS. Mark your calendars.
  M 9 Sec. C (the 2:30 section): Final Exam, 4:10 to 6:00 p.m.
  Th 12 Sec. B (the 1:30 section): Final Exam, 11:50 to 1:40 p.m.

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

Children's Lit blogs:

Fuse #8 by Betsy Bird
Children's Book-a-Day Almanac by Anita Silvey
Educating Alice by Monica Edinger
Breezes from Wonderland by Maria Tatar
My blog, Nine Kinds of Pie, covers children's literature and other subjects.

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


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This page was last updated on Wednesday, March 16, 2011