Classics in Children’s Literature


      I.  Description

A student-centered seminar, during which we will analyze some of the classics in children’s literature as well as discuss the cultural, academic, and personal implications of such writings

    II.  Goals

A.  To celebrate a part of our common heritage--we were all children once (and on good days still are!)--by reading some of the best-of-the-best in children’s literature.  Many of the books that we will read are old friends; you probably grew up with them.  But some will be new friends, who in the busyness of our childhoods we missed.  Or perhaps, when we were children, they were not yet books.

B.  To discuss/analyze what of the cognitive/developmental/cultural/social aspects of childhood are represented/stimulated/captured by children’s literature.

  III.  Objectives to have been reached by every student by the end of the course*

A.  Exhibit critical thinking through the analysis and interpretation of language and

literary works

                   – By reading selections from various genres of children’s literature

            B.  Differentiate and employ macro and micro revision processes and techniques

                  – By writing personal narratives which trace personal histories of reading specific

                     selections of children’s literature in relationship to the cognitive/developmental/

                     cultural/social contexts within which they were read

                  – By writing and distributing two, public, informative documents

            C.  Exhibit effective oral communication skills

                   – By sharing information with the entire class in required presentations 

            D.  Employ research tools for writing and other modes of understanding

                  – By studying in-depth one piece of children’s literature as well as the author’s

                     life and culture 

            E.  Work collaboratively to analyze and interpret texts and to improve writing skills

                   – By participating in peer reviews of drafts

                   – By becoming a part of community of readers

           *Taken from UIS’s English Program’s 2004 Student Objectives

   IV.   Texts

            A.  Required

Please note: You may obtain these books by buying them from UIS’s bookstore; by checking them out of a friend’s library, a public library, UIS’s library, or your personal library; or by ordering them from the web (bookfinder.com or Buy.com, etc.).  While it is NOT necessary to purchase these books new, PLEASE have read  (or re-read) them and bring copies to class the day we discuss them.

                        1.  Bang, Molly.  Common Ground.  New York: Blue Sky, 1997.

                        2.  Burnett, Frances Hodgson.  The Secret Garden.  New York: Penguin, [1911].

                        3.  Carroll, Lewis.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, [1864].

                        4.  Ende, Michael.  The Neverending Story.  New York: Penguin, 1983.

                        5.  Fleischman, Paul.  Seedfolks.  New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

                        6.  George, Jean Craighead.  Julie of the Wolves.  New York: HarperCollins,


                        7.  Konigsburg, E.  L.  Throwing Shadows.  New York: Aladdin, 1979.

                        8.  L’Engle, Madeleine.  A Wrinkle in Time.  New York: Bantam, 1962.

                        9.  Lewis, C.  S.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  New York: Collier,


                        10.  Lowry, Lois.  Number the Stars.  New York: Bantam, 1989.

                        11.  Martin, Jacqueline Briggs.  Snowflake Bentley.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin,


                        12.  Paterson, Katherine.  Bridge to Terabithia.  New York: HarperCollins, 1977.

                        13.  Paulsen, Gary.  Brian’s Winter.  New York: Delacorte, 1996.

                        14.  Peck, Richard.  A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories.  New York:

                               Dial Books for Young Readers, 1998.

                        15.  Sachar, Louis.  Holes.  New York: Random, 1998.

                        16.  Wick, Walter.  A Drop of Water.  New York: Scholastic, 1997.

            B. Supplemental

Note: You are neither required to purchase nor to read these books prior to class.

However, selections from many of these will be read during class to enrich the scope of your exposure to outstanding literature, and you will be responsible for the material presented in class during your midterm and final exams.  Plus, I thought you might like to have a partial listing for your future reference!

                        Alcott, Louisa May.  Little Women.

                        —.  Little Men.

                        —.  Old Fashioned Girl.

                        —.  Eight Cousins. 

                        Andersen, Hans Christian.  Fairy Tales.

                        Arabian Nights.

                        Brett, Jan.  The Hat.  New York: Putnam, 1997.

                        Carroll, Lewis.  Through the Looking-Glass.

                        Gardner, Martin, intro.  The Annotated Alice.  New York: Norton, 2000.

                        Giono, Jean.  The Man Who Planted Trees.  Chelsea: Chelsea Green, 1985.

                        Greenaway, Kate.  Mother Goose or Old Nursery Rhymes.  New York: Gramercy,


                        Haviland, Virginia (Retold by . . .).  Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Russia.  New

                                    York: Beach Tree, 1961.

                        Jackson, Jacqueline Dougan.  Stories from the Round Barn.  Evanston, IL:

                                    Northwestern UP, 1997.

                        Jacobs, Joseph (Collected by . . .).  Celtic Fairy Tales.  New York: Dover, 1968.

                                     (From 1892 edition by David Nutt.)

                        Johnson, Crockett.  Harold and the Purple Crayon.  New York: HarperCollins,


                        Johnson, A. E., trans.  Perrault’s Fairy Tales.  New York: Dover, 1969 [1697].

                        Krauss, Ruth.  The Carrot Seed.  New York: HarperCollins, 1945.

                        L’Engle, Madeleine.  Many Waters (1998).

                        —.  A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1981).

                        —.  A Wind in the Door (1974).

                        Lewis, C. S.  The Chronicles of Narnia –listed in the order C. S. Lewis thought

                                    they should be read:

                        —.  The Magician’s Nephew (1955).

                        .  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950).

                        —.  The Horse and His Boy (1954).

                        —.  Prince Caspian (1951).

                        —.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952).

                        —.  The Silver Chair (1953).

                        —.  The Last Battle (1956).

                        Lowry, Lois.  The Giver (2002).

                        .  Gooney Bird Greene (2004).

                        —.  The Silent Boy (2003).

                        Milne, A. A.  Winnie the Pooh (1926).

                        —.  The House at Pooh Corner (1928).

                        Morrison, Toni.  The Big Box.  New York: Hyperion, 1999.

                        Paulsen, Gary.  Hatchet.

                        Peck, Richard.  Fair Weather (2002).

                        —.  A Year Down Yonder (2001; a sequel to A Long Way to Chicago).

                        Pfeffer, Wendy.  A Log’s Life.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

                        Piper, Watty (Retold by . . .).  The Little Engine that Could.  New York: Platt,

                                    1976 [1930].

                        Potter, Beatrix.  The Tailor of Gloucester.  New York: Warner, 1987 [1903].

                        —.  The Tale of Peter Rabbit [1902].

                        Rowling, J.  K.  (Grades 4-6).   Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  1998.

                        —.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1999).

                        —.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999).

                        —.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000).

                        —.  Harry Potter and the Phoenix (2003).

                        Sendak, Maurice.  In the Night Kitchen (1970).

                        —.  Where the Wild Things Are.  New York: HarperCollins, 1963.

                        Seuss, Dr.  Cat in the Hat (1957). 

                        —.  Green Eggs and Ham.

                        —.  Lorax.

                        —.  Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  New York: Random, 1990.

                        .  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

                        Silverstein, Shel.  Falling Up (1996).

                        —.  The Giving Tree (1963). 

                        —.  A Light in the Attic (1981).

                        —.  The Missing Piece (1976).

                        —.  The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. 

                        —.  Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawings . . .(1973).

                        Twain, Mark.  The Prince and the Pauper. 

                        —.  Tom Sawyer.

                        Williams, M.  The Velveteen Rabbit (1987).

    V. Evaluation and Grades

A.  Undergraduate, student performance will be evaluated on an A-U scale using the following criteria:

                        1.  33.333% = Two tests: Midterm (100 pts.) and Final (100 pts.)

                        2.  50.000% = *Two papers: Reflective, personal essay (100 pts.) and Research

                             paper (200 pts.)

                        3.  16.666% = *Short papers and in-class work (100 pts.):

                                      i. *Provide one handout for entire class on fairy tale (20 pts.)

                                      ii. Read and discuss one fairy tale (10 pts.)                       

                                      iii. *Provide student handout on one of the required texts (30 pts.)

                                      iv. Give reading and activity on one of the required texts (20 pts.)

                                      v. *Have a TYPED draft of Paper # 1/Peer review (5 pts.)

                                      vi. *Have a TYPED draft of Paper # 2/Peer review (5 pts.)

                                      vii. *Have a bibliographic entry over favorite book (5 pts.)

                                      viii. Coordinate an activity for the whole class that reminds us all

                                                how to play! (And the importance of play!) (5 pts.)

            B.  Graduate, student performance will be evaluated on an A-U scale using the

                        following criteria (Please see me after the first class meeting):

                        1-3. Same as undergraduate students (600 points)

                        Plus two additional assignments:

                        4. *A 10-12 page research paper on an award given for children’s literature or an

                             alternative topic agreed upon in advance, such as a children’s book illustrator

                             (100 pts.). 

                        5.  Presentation of your findings from the above research paper to the class with

                             examples from the course’s readings (30-60 minutes) with a *one-page,

                             summary handout for the class (20 pts.).

                        Therefore, your points will be divided by 720 points to determine you grade. 

*All papers are due at the start of class on the day they are required and must be

                        submitted to the professor in person at that time (or prior to that time); papers will

                        not be accepted submitted on-line or by FAX or by any other method.  Late

                        papers  will lose 10% per day late.  Papers are also required to be typed.

            C.  Basically, I would happier if we could have a mentorship arrangement and I didn’t

                        have to assign grades, but until that happens, I will try to demystify how I

                        determine grades.  If you attend all but two classes and do all of your work in a

                        timely fashion, you will probably not have to be too concerned about grades: A=

                        outstanding; B = strong; C = acceptable; D = just barely met standards; U = not

                        acceptable (see numerical grades listed within this syllabus).  There will be no

                        substitution of assignments unless required by UIS administrative office(s).  A

                        number of safety nets have been built-in to the course to reinforce basic concepts.

                        This course is designed to give you a solidly paced experience in children’s

                        literature.  Caveat: Try not to get behind in your work; my previous students have

                        said this is the only grade-danger in my classes.

                        A  = 94-100%           

                        A- = 90-93%       

                        B+= 88-89%             

                        B  = 84-87%           

                        B- = 80-83%  

                        C+= 78-79%

                        C  = 74-77%

                        C- = 70-73%

                        D+= 68-69%

                        D  = 64-67%

                        D- = 60-63%

                        U  = lower than 60%

   VI.  Plagiarism

            Something-I-shouldn’t-have-to-say: Plagiarism has no place in any institution of

            learning; therefore, any plagiarism in this class will result in an U (failing) grade for the

            course and will be submitted to the appropriate university disciplinary individual(s)

            and/or committees for institutional disciplinary action.

 VII.  Attendance

            Because this class meets only once a week and is a student-centered, seminar class,

            attendance and participation are vital to getting/giving the most from/to this learning/

            teaching experience.  Therefore, after two absences, each absence will lower the over-all

            course grade by one letter grade per absence.  Being more than thirty minutes late to a

            class will count as an absence.  No student may invite and/or bring any guest(s) to any


VIII.  Accommodation of Students with Documented Disabilities

            “Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented

            disability.  Please notify the instructor during the first week of any class of any

            accommodations needed for the course.  Late notification may cause the requested

            accommodations to be unavailable.  All accommodations must be approved through the

            Office of Disability Services (SLB 11, 6-6666.)”

            E-8. University of Illinois at Springfield Academic Staff Handbook