Children’s Literature Pt 1

One of the projects I’ve taken on this summer is to finally get a cross-endorsement to teach English grades 7-12, something that I was 2 classes short of for several years. The short version of that story is that I started out thinking I needed English certification to teach theatre in Connecticut, but when Connecticut finally added a “unique special endorsement” in theatre I jumped to add that instead. But I DID spend all that money on Praxis tests in English and a course in the History of the English Language (mind numbingly dull, if you were wondering), so I’ve always wanted to get it done. I took an Advanced Composition class in the spring, which was doubly beneficial because it got me finally getting into a draft phase of TWO articles I think I could eventually develop for publication– hopefully I’ll be posting more on those later on.

So now I’m well into my final course, on a subject I adore, Children’s Literature. I’ve tried to use the course to get acquainted with more books that I could use in my teaching work, and also to get a better sense of what works in children’s books and whether and how that connects to children’s dramatic literature. I’ve been thinking lately about what it is that draws me to theatre for young audiences and I know it’s roots are in my experiences with books as a child. Great children’s literature, whether it’s dramatic, poetic, fiction, or nonfiction, is great literature, first and foremost. Maybe it is the simplicity of the vocabulary or the limited length most picture books work within, but I’m taken lately with the realization that so much good children’s literature is so close to poetry. Story stripped to its most essential parts somehow catches the heart more often.

I’ve read quite a stack of children’s books for this course but one thing that I’ve really enjoyed is being exposed to so many outstanding children’s literature websites. It’s great to see what others recommend, and it occurs to me that there’s room for book recommendations on this blog. So,  for your reading enjoyment, here are a few of the best children’s books I’ve read this month, maybe for a later post I’ll brainstorm some lessons around them:

Questions for the World: What great children’s books have you read recently? Or not so recently? What do you think makes for an exceptional story for children?


2 Responses to “Children’s Literature Pt 1”

  1. Edith Folta Says:

    My mother, who was a 4th and 5th grade teacher for many years, loved to read her classes “The Good Master” by Kate Seredy, the story of two young cousins growing up on a horse and sheep farm in Hungary before WWI. It became one of my favorite books, too, along with its sequel, “The Singing Tree”, which is a much darker book set during WWI when the farm hosted German refugee children. Both books tell lyrically of city children learning to enjoy the pleasures of the countryside and to master themselves and the plant and animal world around them. It was an award-winning book in the 1940’s but has somehow fallen from notice. I’ve never known a kid who did not enjoy this book.

  2. BookChook Says:

    I think you nailed it: “Story stripped to its most essential parts somehow catches the heart more often.” That is why I love great children’s picture books – no excess verbiage, lyrical writing, positive themes.

    I taught drama for many years (mostly improvisation-based) and wrote an article encouraging parents to involve their kids in it a week or so ago. Will leave the link in case you’re interested:

    Now I’m off to explore your links!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: