Philip Nel > Courses > English 355: Literature for Children (Spring 2003)
English 355: Literature for Children
Sec. A.: MWF 1:30-2:20 p.m.
Sec. B.: MWF 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Eisenhower 228
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: 208 Denison Hall
Office Hours: Mon. 3:30-5:30 & by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours:
Syllabus last updated on Sunday, June 18, 2006.
Web Project | Paper Assignment | Bulletin board for 355-A or 355-B

Required Texts | Objectives | Grading | Requirements | Bulletin Board | Schedule of Assignments | Recommended Resources
Required Texts:
Molly Bang, Picture This (Seastar).
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).
Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (HarperCollins).
Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig, illustrated by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins).
Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking (Puffin).
Leo Lionni, Frederick (Knopf).
Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (HarperCollins).
Patricia MacLachlan, Sarah Plain and Tall (HarperCollins).
Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (Dragonfly Books).
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Scholastic).
Tor Seidler, A Rat's Tale (HarperCollins).
Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are (HarperCollins).
The Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tatar (Norton).
Class Pack for English 355. Available in Eisenhower Copy Center, 1/27/03.
        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 a paper, create a website, take quizzes and exams, make regular postings to your section's electronic bulletin board, and participate in class discussions. In this class, education will not be a passive experience: I expect discussion, debate, and exchanges of ideas. This requires that you not only be present but that you be an active presence.




100 (total for all quizzes)   

In class, day reading is due.

Class Participation &   



Electronic Bulletin Board    


Midterm Exam


In class, 3/10.



At the beginning of class, 3/31.

Web Project 250 Bio. & Biblio. (Draft), 2/14; Bio. & Biblio. (Final), 2/21; Design, 3/3; Critical Contexts (Draft), 4/21; Project Due, 5/7.

Final Exam


In class: 4:10-6:00 p.m., 5/12 for Sec. B (the 2:30 group); 11:50 a.m.-1:40 p.m., 5/15 for Sec. A (the 1:30 group).



Requirements: Paper | Quizzes | Class Participation and Attendance | Computing | Assignments
        The paper 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 Electronic Bulletin 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 Group Web Project, 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 EH228, a computer lab classroom, and we will use the computers on some days. You will also be asked to participate in an Electronic Bulletin Board and a Group Web Project. Our work with computers is designed not only as another forum for discussing our reading, but as a way for you to sharpen your communication skills, media skills, and web skills for an increasingly technological age.
        Group Web Project: Click here for a full description.
        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 plan to provide a link to the paper assignment.
        Electronic Bulletin Board: Post comments to the bulletin board at least once every two weeks. 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 bulletin board.
        How to use the bulletin board:
    1. Click on ENGL355A (if you're in the 1:30 class) or ENGL355B (if you're in the 2:30 class). If you receive a message like "Authorization Failed. Retry?" then click on "Retry."
    2. A window will pop up, asking for your username. If you are in Section A (the 1:30 group), type engl355a. If you are in Section B (the 2:30 group), type engl355b. Be sure to use all lower-case letters. Next, type in the password that I gave you in class.
    3. To see all the messages posted to date starting with the newest ones first, click on "Preferences" and set the options to "12 months" and "Mixed Threaded, Reversed." Click on the "View Messages Index" button. You should be able to see all the messages posted to the threaded bulletin board. (If a grey box pops up with the title "Security Information," just click "OK.")
    4. To post, choose to reply to a message or to post a new message. You will have to enter your name, your email address, and the subject of the message. You can preview your message before sending it; then, click "Post Message."

        Email: My email address is 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: 21 Nichols Hall, 22-25 Seaton Hall, 1-1A Dickens Hall, and 325 Justin Hall and in some residence halls (visit <> for more details about resident hall labs).

Schedule of Assignments
Subject to Change
[W] = Web. [CP] = Class Pack. [R] = On Reserve (at Hale Library). [F] = Film. [*] = 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 17 Introduction. Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree (1964).
M 20 Martin Luther King Day
W 22 A Brief History of Literature for Children. Items 2, 3, and 4 in the Class Pack. Web Projects: Introduced, and groups assigned.
F 24 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); Peggy Rathmann, 10 Minutes till Bedtime (1998); Jon Scieszka and Steve Johnson (illus.), The Frog Prince Continued (1991) [all R]. Perry Nodelman's "Pleasures of Literature" [W]
Fairy Tales and Revisions
M 27 All "Little Red Riding Hood" tales, The Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tatar (3-24). Web Projects: Select your author. Biography, Bibliography, Planning.
W 29 Nodelman, from "Appendix: Finding Out More About Children's Literature" [CP]. Web Projects: Librarians Ron Ratliff, Sara Kearns, and Marcia Stockham meet with the class.
F 31 Classic Fairy Tales: all "Snow White" tales (74-96).
February M 3 Walt Disney's Snow White [F].
W 5 Snow White [F]; Chris Van Allsburg, The Widow's Broom (1992) [R]; Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf (1989) [R].
F 7 Web Projects: How to make web pages.
Poetry, Sense, and Nonsense
M 10 Randall Jarrell, The Bat Poet, pp. 12-23. [CP]; the selected poems in the Class Pack.
W 12 The selected poems in the Class Pack, continued.
F 14 Web Projects: DRAFT of Biography and Bibliography DUE.
M 17 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
W 19 Carroll, "Jabberwocky" (116-19) and "Humpty Dumpty" (159-68) from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1872); 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 21 Web Projects: Biography and Bibliography DUE. Introduction to Web Design.
M 24 Web Projects: Web Design. Bring in your disk and ideas.
W 26 Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (1957), Green Eggs and Ham (1960) [both R].
F 28 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.
March M 3 Seuss, The Butter Battle Book (1984) [R]; Allison Lurie, "The Cabinet of Dr. Seuss" [CP]. Web Projects: Website Design DUE.
Picture Books (1): The Art of Picture Books
W 5 Molly Bang, Picture This (1991); Leo Lionni, Little Blue and Little Yellow (1959) [R]; Nodelman, "Picture Books" (215-44) [CP]
F 7 Lionni, Frederick (1967); Crockett Johnson, A Picture for Harold's Room (1960) [R]; Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (1991)
M 10 Midterm Exam. Click on this sentence to see the exam format. If interested, consider taking The Vark Questionnaire to see how you learn.
W 12 Web Projects: Planning/Introducing Critical Contexts
F 14 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)*
M 24 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].
W 26 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: Bank Street Group and Beyond
F 28 Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947) [R]; Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig (1952), illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Since some people were obliged to assist with the university's Open House during class, today's class notes can be accessed by clicking on these words.
M 31 Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955); Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970) [R]. Paper DUE in class
Novels (1): Easy Readers and Middle-Grade Readers
April W 2 Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (1972).
F 4 Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking (1950).
M 7 Patricia MacLachlan, Sarah Plain and Tall (1985); Laura Ingalls Wilder, excerpt from Little House on the Prairie (1935) [CP]; Segal, "Realism and Children's Literature: Notes from a Historical Perspective" (46-47) [CP].
W 9 Andrew Clements, Frindle (1996).
F 11 No class: Work on your Web Projects.
M 14 No class: Work on your Web Projects.
Novels (2): Historical Fiction, Animal Stories, Fantasy
W 16 Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963 (1995), through Chapter 8 (p. 120)
F 18 Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963, to end.
M 21 Web Projects: Draft of Critical Contexts DUE. Bring two copies of the draft.
W 23 Tor Seidler, A Rat's Tale (1986), to p. 105.
F 25 Seidler, A Rat's Tale, to end.
M 28 J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets(1998), through Chapter 7 (p. 121); Russell, "Children's Books and the Censor" [CP].
W 30 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, through Chapter 13 (p. 248).
May F 2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, to end.
M 5 Web Projects: Final Work on Pages.
W 7 Web Projects DUE: Presentation of Group Web Projects.
F 9 Conclusion and Review
M 12 Final Exam, 4:10 to 6:00 p.m. for Sec. B (the 2:30 group)
Th 15 Final Exam, 11:50 a.m to 1:40 p.m. for Sec. A (the 1:30 group). 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); 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), 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).

On the Web

Kansas Dept. of Education

Kansas State Dept. of Education's Licensure Requirements for teaching Late Childhood Through Early Adolescent Level (draft of February 1997)


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 on August 1, 2010