Philip Nel > Courses > English 355: Literature for Children (Spring 2016)

English 355: Literature for Children
Required Texts
Schedule of Assignments
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: ECS 103
Office Hours: MF 3:30-4:30,
& by appointment.





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

ECS 017

Last updated April 8, 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 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 125 Daily.
Exam #1 (Midterm) 200 In class, Mar. 7.
Exam #2 (Final) 200 May 12, 11:50 am-1:40 pm.
Paper, Part 1 125 In class, Jan. 27.
Paper, Part 2 125 In class, Mar. 30.
Paper, Part 3 125 In class, April 29.
Total 1000  

Requirements: Papers | Quizzes | Class Participation and Attendance | 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 <>.
       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. "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 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 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.

       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.

       In case you need this advice, Wellesley has great advice on "How to Email Your Professor." Really. Check it out.

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
January W 20 Introduction. Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree (1964).
  F 22 A Brief History of Literature for Children [C]; Mary Wollestonecraft, Chapter VII from Moral Conversations and Stories (1788); Maria Edgeworth, "The Story of the Purple Jar" (1801); 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].
  M 25 Jon Klassen, I Want My Hat Back (2011); Bryan Collier, Uptown (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]; Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail, One Word from Sophia (2015) [X]; Perry Nodelman, "Pleasures of Literature" [W].
  W 27 Paper DUE: How to Read Children's Literature, Part I. In-class discussion of same.
Fairy Tales and Revisions
   F 29 "Little Red Riding Hood" tales [C]; Ed Young, Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (1989) [R].
  February M 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
  W 3 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); Ted Kooser, “Child Frightened by a Thunderstorm” (p. 94); Morris Bishop, “Song of the Pop-bottlers” (p. 105).
  F 5 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
  M 8 Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, cont.
  W 10 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].
  F 12 Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, illus. Jules Feiffer (1961), through Ch. 10.
  M 15 Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, to end.
  W 17 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) [all R].
  F 19 Seuss, 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
  M 22 Molly Bang, Picture This (1991).
  W 24 Leo Lionni, Frederick (1967); Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (1991); Jon Agee, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (1988) [R]; Mac Barnett et al, "Proclamation!" (2011) [W]
  F 26 John Burningham, Mr. Gumpy's Outing (1970) [R]; “Decoding the images: how picturebooks work” (2005) [C]; Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955).
  M 29 Carolivia Herron, Nappy Hair, illus. by Joe Cepeda (1988);Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, Henry Cole, ...And Tango Makes Three (2005); Wolf Erlbruch, Duck, Death and the Tulip (2011) [all R].
March W 2 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].
  F 4 David Wiesner, Tuesday (1991); Ann Jonas, The Trek (1985); Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji (1982); Suzy Lee, Shadow (2010) [all R].
  M 7 Exam #1 (Midterm).
  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); Emily Gravett, Wolves (2006) [all R]; Jon Scieszka, "Design Matters," The Horn Book (1998) <> [W].
  F 11 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].
  M 21 Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970) [R]; Emily Hughes, Wild (2013) [R].
Novels (1): Easy Readers, Middle-Grade Readers, Comics/Graphic Novels
  W 23 Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (1972); James Marshall, George and Martha (1972) [R; the first book in the big anthology].
  F 25 Neil Gaiman, Coraline (2002), through Chapter VI (p. 81).
  M 28 Gaiman, Coraline (2002), to end.
  W 30 Paper DUE: How to Read Children's Literature, Part II. In-class discussion of same.
April F 1 Cece Bell, El Deafo (2014), through Chapter 10 (p. 130).
  M 4 Bell, El Deafo, to end.
  W 6 Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (1998), up through Chapter 8 (p. 82).
  F 8 Gantos, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, to end.
Novels (2): Historical Fiction, Realism, Memoir, Fantasy
  M 11 Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer (2010) up through "Big Red S" chapter (p. 110).
  W 13 Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer, to end.
  F 15 Pam Muñoz Ryan, Becoming Naomi Leon (2004), to p. 136.
  M 18 Ryan, Becoming Naomi Leon, to end.
  W 20 Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), through Part II (p. 138).
  F 22 Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming, to end
  M 25 Shaun Tan, The Arrival (2006).
  W 27 Tan, The Arrival.
  F 29 Paper DUE: How to Read Children's Literature, Part III. In-class discussion of same.
May M 2 J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998), through Chapter 7 (p. 130).
  W 4 Russell, "Children's Books and the Censor" [CP]. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, through Chapter 12 (p. 214).
  F 6 Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, to end. Conclusion and Review.
  Th 12 Exam #2 (Final). 11:50 am-1:40 pm.

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:

Resources for writing:

Resources for research:

Kansas Dept. of Education


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This page was last updated on Friday, April 8, 2016