Children s Literature with Service Learning Component
*Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting.
Bang, Molly. The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher.
*Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden.
*Casterton, Peter (Editor), et al. Goddesses Heroes and Shamans : The Young
People's Guide to World Mythology.
*Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust
Hoffmann, Heinrich. Struwwelpeter in English Translation.
Krause, Lois. "How We Learn and Why We Don·t"
Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are.
Stanley, Jerry. Children of the Dust Bowl.
Tatar, Maria, ed. The Classic Fairy Tales.
Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
Special Order: Buy only ONE of the following Mildred Taylor novellas:
Taylor, Mildred. The Friendship
—. Mississippi Bridge
—. Song of the Trees
—. The Well
Recommended but not required: (hardbacks: both available for 20% off at the Clemson Newstand)
Macaulay, David. Black and White
Scieszka, Jon and Lane Smith. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
Copies of the books that our library owns are on closed, 2-hour reserve. Others may be added throughout the semester as necessary. All articles for the semester that aren·t in the Tatar book are on the CLE, and I have placed one additional copy of each on reserve at the library.
Course Goals: Students will read and learn to interpret and evaluate various genres of children's literature, including folklore and myths, illustrated and picture books, poetry, historical children's literature, and selected novels, both historical and modern. The emphasis will be on reading, discussing and writing on literature and criticism to facilitate students' developing a critical sense about what they might use with elementary age children. This class will also participate in a Service Learning Project in which students will work with the children at Littlejohn Community Center and the Clemson Child Development Center on developing critical literacy skills.
Learning Objectives: At the end of the semester, students should be able to comment and write perceptively and critically on illustrated and picture books as well as on children's novels and other subgenres of children's literature and do so from the perspective that children's books are literary and artistic artifacts and not strictly tools for teaching concepts to child readers. This process of critical inquiry will help all students to carry out the service learning component of the course, but it will also help class members who are pre-service teachers to understand how to teach their future students to think critically about children's literature and thereby to enjoy texts on a number of different levels.
Grading Breakdown: (approximately 900-point total)
50 Critical Reflection #1 (Caldecott Award-Wining picture book + criticism)
50 Critical Reflection #2 (Newbery-Award Winning novel + criticism)
50 Critical Reflection #3 (a book room book or text of your choice)
100 Mid-term Exam
100 Final Exam
100 Service-Learning journals (at midterm)
300 Final portfolio (critical introduction, 2 best critical reflections and service-learning journals)
100 Service-Learning Participation/attendance
100 (approximately) Quizzes & participation (including 10 poetry, 10 conference and 10 culture points)
(Grading scale: 90%-100% = A; 80%-89% = B; 70%-79% = C; 60%-69% = D).
*** Please do not make the mistake of thinking that since this course is about children's literature that you can have a lax attitude toward the class. We cover a broad range of material by keeping a rigorous and intense pace.
Course Organization and Schedule: We will begin the course with picture books both to give you essential background in semiotics that will aid your work with the Service- Learning Project and to sharpen your critical skills on easily readable texts that require both literary and visual awareness. I have scheduled traditional stories (folktales and myths) next because so many of the themes, motifs, ideological messages, etc. in historical and contemporary novels (which come next) are based on ideas prevalent in traditional stories. Background in the oral tradition will strengthen your literary knowledge for many other disciplines, and the multicultural approach that we are taking to traditional stories will broaden your awareness of how American and British traditions fit in with those of other cultures which are vastly different from ours. The novels cover fantasy (both fantastic story and science fiction), historical fiction and historical (19th century). The brief unit on historical children's literature is designed to help contemporary readers realize how new—historically speaking—children's literature is and to understand the didactic origins of this peculiar genre that is defined by audience (children) and not by author, as are other genres. Poetry will be infused throughout the semester via daily in-class readings, and the final class day of poetry will serve primarily as a celebration of poetry. Time is set aside at the end of the semester for reporting on your Service-Learning Project—the contents of which we will decide as a class. The class will read various pieces of criticism this semester—most of which focus on the literature from an English Studies perspective. Varying in complexity from simple to densely theoretical, these essays will serve a number of purposes: to help you understand why 385 is in the English and not the Education Department, to shed light on the literature from different theoretical perspectives, to discuss censorship, etc.
Explanation of required assignments:
Critical reflection: Critical reflections assignments are designed to help you further develop your critical ideas about the literature that you are reading both inside and outside of class. In addition to the books on the syllabus, you will also read and write about three additional children's texts (one Caldecott Winner or Honor Award picture book, one Newbery Award or Honor Award novel, one of your choice from the Clemson Book Room or elsewhere). Alongside the Caldecott and Newbery books, you'll also read two piece of criticism, one of which must discuss children's literature from an English Studies perspective. To choose critical articles, look for articles of 3 or more pages that are not book reviews and that do have a "Works Cited" page at the end of the article. If you choose from Children's Literature, Children's Literature Association Quarterly or The Lion & The Unicorn for your English Studies article, you can hardly go wrong. Searching the CU Explorer (Expanded Academic Index) is the most efficient way to find an article.
In these entries, I DON'T simply want "I liked X" or "I didn't like X," but I want first a brief summary (1-3 sentence) of the book and then at least one double-spaced page of FOCUSED commentary/criticism on some aspect of the book. You might, for instance, discuss how a character's coming-of-age compares to that of another character we·ve discussed this semester. You might discuss the ideological implications of the racism, sexism or ageism in the text. You might write on the impact of historical events on the events that an author has written into a text. I·m looking for variety from week to week, for detailed explorations of your thoughts on the texts, and for increasing complexity as the semester goes along. In the reflections in which you write about a piece of criticism as well as a primary text, what I·d like to know is how does this piece of criticism "speak" to this novel or picture book? Even if the article is not specifically about the text, you will extract ideas from the criticism that might shed light on an aspect of the text that you might not have considered without the criticism. What I DON'T want? Related to the reasons for the Education Department's requirement that you take this class in the English Department (which we'll talk about more), I don't want discussion of classroom uses of the books; in fact, you would do well not to even mention classroom uses of the books or child readers in your writings; this tends to be a pitfall particularly for education majors, and critical reflections that focus on the child reader (audience) or classroom concerns generally earn grades of C or D; the place for those reflections is with the Service Learning component. I also don't want unfocused rambling through 3, 4 or 5 topics of focus. I'll collect and grade these three times this semester, and I'll be looking for increased complexity and variety in your thinking processes as the semester goes on. Please either type these and keep them in a paper folder with brads, or if you choose to hand write them, use a black and white theme notebook.
Critical Reflection #1: A Caldecott Award-winning picture book & a critical article from an English Studies perspective (top 3 journals: Children·s Literature, Children·s Literature Association Quarterly or The Lion & the Unicorn
Critical Reflection #2: A Newbery Award-winning novel & an article of your choice
Critical Reflection #3: A Book Room book or a novel or picture book of your choice
Mid-Term and final exams:
The mid-term and final exams, taken in a blue-book, will consist of both objective and essay questions and will cover reading assignments, books read aloud orally in class, and class discussions. Specific questions generally consist of short identification of terms and characters, identification of quotes, and short essays. Terms and criticism re always cumulative throughout the semester, but the final exam typically covers only texts read since the mid-term.
Throughout the semester, as you·re working with a child in the service learning project, you'll keep a journal that more or less has two parts. It doesn't matter if you keep them together or separately, but I'll be collecting both periodically throughout the semester. In your part, I'd like for you to keep notes about the progress of your work with the student. This might include what books you're reading, what level of understanding the child has throughout the semester, how her/his sense of critical literacy is progressing, how focused (or not) the student is, what happens when you revisit books you've read earlier with the student, how much of the critical concepts from class you're able to adapt for your work with the student, etc. The child's part of this journaling process should focus on developing some basic observation and writing skills. For instance, after reading a text together, you might have the student "write" about the story (with your interpretations below the student's writings), draw illustrations related to the story, or create a poem or song—that you could write down—related to the story. I expect lots of variety in what these journals look like, but my best advice for this process is 1) make an entry at least every week 2) make your entry as soon as you finish working with the student so that your ideas are fresh.
The Final Portfolio will bring together the in-class and Service Learning components of the class. It will consist of a critical introduction (reflecting on your experience of 385 and the construction of your portfolio), your two best (revised and re-revised if necessary) critical reflections and your Service Learning Journals (both your part and the child's part).
You will be expected to spend 1/2 hour to 45 minutes per week with your student, reading together and working on literacy skills. This will be approximately 12 visits. 12+ visits and active participation will earn 100%; 10-11 visits and good participation 90; 8-9 visits and average participation 80%; 6-7 visits and poor participation 60%; 5 or fewer visits fails this part of the assignment. I·d like for you to work with the same student all semester, but that·s not always possible. If you go to the site and your student is not there, check into reading with another student if possible. If you have extenuating circumstance that cause you to miss a session, call the site to let them know, and try to go during the other scheduled time for that week if possible. If not, make it up when it·s convenient for you and the site.
Quizzes & participation: The readings listed on the syllabus for each day should be read before you come to class. Quizzes and in-class writings may occur frequently to encourage you to prepare for class discussions. They may consist of objective or essay questions, may be done individually or collaboratively (depending on the quiz) and will cover reading assignments for the week. "Poetry": read a children·s poem to the class at the beginning of a class period. "Conference": Come see me during my office hours to talk about your writing/thinking processes or any questions you have. The earlier in the semester, the better. This also helps me learn names. "Culture Points": This gives you credit for attending and writing a response to one cultural event (musical, literary, artistic, theatrical, etc.) on campus or in the community this semester. This has nothing to do with children's literature directly, but exposure to the arts is, I feel, an important part of a college education. If you wish to attend a second event in a different artistic genre or do a second culture points assignment, it will count as extra credit and will be added on to your quiz grade, up to a perfect score. For any culture points assignment you choose, you will write a one-page response detailing your reaction to the experience; I will take these response papers at any time during the semester up until November 29. Including them in your critical reflections when you turn them in is a good way to make sure I keep up with them. Here are the ways you can earn culture points:
* Attend and write a response to one cultural event (musical, literary, artistic, theatrical, etc.— something more uplifting than a Sting or Dixie Chicks concert, please)
* Participate in a children·s literature/ YA literature listserv for at least two weeks.
* Write a publishable book review on a choice of your text from the book room (in addition to the required ones for class)
* Write a living YA author with a question you·d like to have answered; I·d like a copy of your letter as well as the author·s response if you get one.
* Create your own culture points assignment and check with me to make sure it·s ok.
Class attendance and participation:
This is not even remotely a lecture class. Since you will be expected to participate actively in class discussions, you must come to class, keep up with the reading assignments, and contribute your ideas. You may not make up quizzes or class work that you miss as a result of absence, but you will be responsible for the material covered. If you know that you will be absent when a major assignment is due, turn it in early or send it with a classmate to avoid the late penalty. If regular, on-time attendance poses a problem for you, I suggest that you drop this class before the semester deadline. Any absences beyond two will adversely affect your final course grade; typically, your final course grade drops 2 points for every absence beyond two. I will, however, reward you at the end of the semester for perfect or nearly perfect attendance: 20 (of 20) points for missing no more than one class and participating actively; 15 for missing 2 classes and/or average participation; no points for three or more absences. In addition, sign-in for attendance will be your responsibility after the first few weeks of class. Should you have questions about your attendance at any time throughout the semester, please ask. With the exception of university-sponsored events (such as athletics trips), excused and unexcused absences are all the same to me, but you would do well to communicate with me if extenuating circumstances have kept you out of class. Any student who is ten or more minutes late to class will received 1/2 an absence, and since quizzes are usually given at the beginning of class, if you're late on the day of a quiz, you will not be allowed to take it. Regular tardiness will adversely affect your participation grade. If for some reason I do not show up for class on time, please wait fifteen minutes, after which you are free to leave.
Assignments must be turned in by the end of the class period when they are due. Any work turned in after that is late. I will accept late assignments up to one class period after the due date but will penalize you one letter grade or ten percent: an A becomes a B, a B becomes a C, etc.
Formatting & Plagiarism:
All major assignments should be typed, but if typing presents a problem, and if your penmanship is legible, you may get my permission to write them by hand. All assignments–both typed and hand-written–must conform to MLA documentation unless otherwise specified. Please use the MLA Documentation sheet that I provide for this class and/or purchase the most recent MLA Handbook. If you have questions about documenting sources, ask before you turn your work in. Plagiarism or any act of cheating is intolerable. I expect sources to be properly documented, but for blatant plagiarism in documentation or cheating in class (including dishonesty on collaborative assignments), you will receive a failing grade for the assignment and possibly for the course. I will then report the incident to the Dean. Clemson·s statement on Academic Integrity is as follows: "As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson·s vision of this institution as a ’high seminary of learning.· Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form."
I will not discuss any evaluation I have given your work until at least twenty-four hours after you have received the grade. Please understand that you earn your grade by performance, not by negotiation. Unless I have made a computational error, please do not ask me to raise your grade. When grades are posted electronically at the end of the semester, you may contact me in a week's time if you have questions concerning your grade.
I generously share with my students my ever-expanding library of children's and young adult literature. But understand before borrowing that my books are my children and must be treated with care. For unreturned books at the end of the semester—mine or Book Room books—you will earn an incomplete in my class until the matter is settled. I understand that accidents do happen; if one of my books is damaged while in your possession, you may bring me a new replacement.
If you have special classroom or educational needs, let me know so that we can make appropriate arrangements.
English 385 Reading Schedule,
Sections 2 & 4
13 Introductions, explanation of Service Learning Project, learning styles inventory, Bloom·s Taxonomy & take-home syllabus quiz
18 Where the Wild Things Are, Service Learning Assignments, "Children·s Literature in the English Department" (CLE) & Hollindale (CLE) Due: syllabus quiz
20 The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, Moebius (CLE), Molly Bang (CLE)
25 Library tour, begin Service Learning visits
27 Postmodern Picture Books: The Stinky Cheese Man, Black & White,
Due: Critical Reflection #1 (Caldecott Award winner & critical article from English Studies perspective)—for peer response
1 Classic Fairy Tales & picture books, ("Little Red Riding Hood"), Shavit·s "Concept of Childhood"
3 Classic Fairy Tales & picture books ("Cinderella"), Maria Tatar·s "Sex and Violence,"
Due: Revision of Critical Reflection #1 & Service Learning Journals
8 Classic Fairy Tales ("Bluebeard"), Bettelheim·s "The Struggle for Meaning"
10 Classic Fairy Tales ("Hansel and Gretel"), Bettelheim·s "Hansel and Gretel"
15 Goddesses, Heroes and Shamans: The Young People·s Guide to World Mythology
17 Goddesses, Heroes and Shamans: The Young People·s Guide to World Mythology
Due: Critical Reflection #2 (Newbery & article of your choice)
22 Service Learning Reflection (in-class writing) & brief oral reports; exam review
Due: Service Learning Journals (
24 Exam #1
29 Tuck Everlasting
2 Tuck Everlasting, (Receive mid-term grades; March 3 is the last day to drop w/a "W") CommuniCon 4-6 (time may change), Madren Center
7 The Secret Garden
9 The Secret Garden
14 Out of the Dust, Children of the Dust Bowl
16 Out of the Dust, Children of the Dust Bowl
Due: Critical Reflection #3 (Book Room Book Review or novel or picture book of
your choice—no criticism necessary)
20 Spring Break
28 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Paterson (CLE)
30 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry & Taylor novellas
4 Ender·s Game
6 Ender·s Game, Tolan (CLE)
11 Historical children·s literature
13 Historical children·s literature
18 Service Learning Project Presentations
20 Service Learning Project Presentations
25 Service Learning Project Presentations (if necessary)
May 1 Exam week
Note: The above schedule, policies, procedures and assignments in this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances. Any substantial changes will be submitted to you in writing.
Professor: Dr. Michelle H. Martin
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