Students in this course explore a variety of examples of children’s literature through various genres, including fairy tales; picture books; “classics”; contemporary realist novels; and graphic novels and historical fiction. Together we examine various ideas conveyed in the texts, the historical development and context of children’s fiction, how novels for young readers have changed and/or stayed the same, and the intersections among language, theory, politics, ideology, and children’s fiction.
The schedule pairs classic and contemporary works of fiction with literary-historical and critical material. Class discussions are guided by the following questions: What IS children’s literature? How does writing for children negotiate the boundaries between instruction and entertainment? How does it engage with controversial social issues? How does children’s literature reflect and respond to changing notions of children and of childhood? How do the texts construct class, gender, race, ethnicity, and able-bodiedness? How does children’s literature respond to children as marginalized “others”? How does writing for children address the power differentials upon which this marginalization rests? How can children’s literature function as both a “window” and a “mirror” for child readers?
Picture This, Molly Bang
Frederick, Leo Lionni
Julian is a Mermaid, Jessica Love
Molly Rogers, Pirate Girl, Cornelia Funke
Treasure Island, R. L. Stevenson
Charlotte’s Web, E. G. White
Melissa, Alex Gino
Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, Dusti Bowling
American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang
New Kid, Jerry Craft
March, Book One, John Lewis et al.