Children’s Literature: A Reading List Under Construction

under construction

Here’s what I’m thinking about requiring in Children’s Lit next semester. Like all my course reading lists, this one is a bit long, but I’m not sure yet what I want to lose:

  • Jacqueline Woodson, Locomotion.
  • Sharon Creech.  Love That Dog.
  • James and Joseph Bruchac.  The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales.
  • Selznick, Brian.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  • Maurice Sendak.  Where the Wild Things Are.
  • Pinkney, Jerry.  The Lion and the Mouse.
  • Cynthia Lord, Rules.
  • Lenore Look, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things.
  • Lois Lowry, Number the Stars.
  • Ruth Thomson, Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust.
  • Nelson, Kadir.  We Are the Ship.
  • Katherine Applegate, One and Only Ivan.
  • Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
  • Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Together
  • Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee, Bink & Gollie
  • Grace Lin, Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same
  • Alma Flor Ada, My Name Is Maria Isabel

There will be a graphic novels week where students will select 2-3 graphic novels to read from a list I provide. Over the course of the semester, I bring in 150-200 additional picture books that we read together. There is also no poetry on this list (though there are two verse novels), so I will need to supplement with at least a day or two of children’s poetry as well.

The only thing that seems very noticeably missing from this list is fantasy, but I just can’t commit to anything. Sometimes I include Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but I am kind of tired of that one, and students tend not to read the longer books on the syllabus anyway. Maybe a Roald Dahl novel or The Graveyard Book?

Edited to Add: Also just noticed there’s not really anything in the way of classic children’s lit. I’ll supplement with picture books for that, but maybe should have a chapter book too? In the past, I’ve done Little House on the Prairie (big racism problems there–useful to talk about, only my students don’t want to see the racism), Charlotte’s Web, Ramona and Her Father.

Photo credit: jasoneppink

5 responses to “Children’s Literature: A Reading List Under Construction”

  1. Hmmm. . . Can’t even imagine how to keep narrowing down a list like this when there is so much to share. Love that Bink and Gollie is on this list. My students can’t get enough of these titles and just pore over each little section of every book. The author that I think may need including is Gary D Schmidt – Okay for Now is incredible – but may be more suited for the adolescent list. Wednesday Wars also fantastic. I just think he nails the voice of young male characters with beautiful vulnerability. Good luck.

  2. Love the suggestion of Gary Schmidt! I’m thinking Wednesday Wars, since that has the nice Shakespeare and English teacher connection. Technically, my Children’s Lit course is supposed to focus on K-8, but pretty much 100% of the students are K-5 majors, so I think I will add the Schmidt to the Adolescent Lit course. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hi Elisabeth, sorry to look at this soo late. I should update our Twitter account more often. Are you teaching teachers or literature majors? What a fun course to teach! I am also building my reading list for a course that I am teaching for teachers next year. Would probably share that one too.

    For comments, and perhaps to add more to your poetry list, have you read Paul Janeczko’s Requiem: Poems from the Terezin Ghetto? It would make for a good companion book to the Terezin title you have there.

    My daughter just read Wednesday Wars and fell in love with it.

    For fantasy, that may be a tad tricky, especially since you only have a few weeks during the semester, and you wouldn’t want to make the reading unmanageable for most – Graveyard Book sounds like a safe bet. OR how about Anthony Browne’s retelling of Alice in Wonderland – that one is a keeper.

    For classic children’s lit, I’ve been reading up on a lot of the really old ones to share with my group of students – there’s The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast by William Roscoe published in 1807. Lucky that we have it in our online archive – you might have it too. Meant to be a pivotal book veering away from religious/moralistic undertones for children. Then there are the fairy tales illustrated by Rackham and Nielsen. Can’t resist those. Gorgeous illustrations. I also just recently borrowed The Thousand Nights and One Night fully illustrated by Jan Pienkowski. Simply brilliant. 🙂

  4. I’m teaching teachers, no lit majors.That’s a great question, because that really does make a difference in what gets assigned. I really want to introduce students to books they will want to use in their classrooms. Many of my Elementary Ed majors are not readers themselves when they enter my class either, so one goal is to help them discover their own literate lives and find books they can love. I am really excited about your suggestion of the Paul Janezcko book. I haven’t heard of that one, and it sounds like a perfect fit for several reasons. I haven’t seen Anthony Browne’s retelling of Alice in Wonderland either–I’m very intrigued! And I am off to research your classic children’s lit suggestions–all new to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to reflect on this and comment. The class will be better for your suggestions!

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