Philip Nel > Courses > English 355: Literature for Children (Spring 2016) > Paper Assignment: How to Read Children's Literature

English 355: Literature for Children
How to Read Children's Literature
27 Jan. 2016
30 Mar. 2016
29 Apr. 2016

For all parts of this assignment, please remember to do the following:

  1. Back up all of your claims with specific examples from the book — refer to text, artwork, layout, design, etc.
  2. Analyze those examples. Show how they support your claims.

Part I: Childhood Reading

Due: 27 Jan. 2016.
Length: 2-3 pages.
Points: 100.

Pick a favorite book from your childhood. If you can’t answer that question, then was the first book you either read or remember having read to you? Now, answer these questions:

  1. Why was this book your favorite? What features of it appealed to you then? Was it the words, the artwork, the person reading it to you, or something else?
  2. To what degree is your experience of this book today similar to what it was then? Explain, with examples.
  3. To what degree is your experience of this book today different than what it was then? Explain, with examples.

Part II: A Second Look

Due: 30 Mar. 2016
Length: 2-3 pages
Points: 100.

Return to the same book you looked at in Part I.

  1. How does the book work? In answering this question, you will want to evaluate the book on its own terms. In order to do so, you’ll need to answer the following questions:
    a) In your introductory paragraph, address this question: what genre is this book?  If the book fits in more than one genre (and most do), then choose the most relevant genres.  Here it will be helpful to review your class notes.
    b) Your thesis (at the end of the introductory paragraph) will answer this question: Is the book a successful example of this genre or these genres?  Why or why not?  In answering this question, you may find it helpful to think about Perry Nodelman’s list of pleasures.
  2. In the body of your paper, you’ll provide examples from the book to support your claims about why the book does or does not work. How do the words and/or pictures work to develop the book’s (or poem’s) themes?  Offer a close-reading of these examples, drawing upon our class discussions, readings, and all the critical terms you’ve learned.
  3. In your conclusion, indicate to whom would you recommend this book.

When you turn in Part II, be sure to include the graded version of Part I — paper-clipped (or stapled) together.

Part III: A New Book

Due: 29 Apr. 2016
Length: 2-3 pages
Points: 100.

Pick a children's book that was published within the last ten years (no earlier than 2004) and that is not on the syllabus. And, just to be clear, this book must be different than the one you looked at in Parts I and II. By "different," I mean a different genre, and a different likely audience.

Answer the same questions from Part II.

When you turn in Part III, be sure to include the graded versions of Parts I and II — paper-clipped (or stapled) together.


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).




Children's Lit blogs:

Resources for writing:

Resources for research:

Kansas Dept. of Education


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