Through the College’s Ellery Yale Wood Collection of children’s and young adult books, students will investigate childhood, explore literature, and creatively engage in the process of writing children’s literature. The three courses offer differing perspectives on books written for young readers: as cultural historians and critics, as creative practitioners, and as people who may shape educational programs and policies in the future. Historical research, theoretical examination, investigation of the reception and afterlife of important stories, and close attention to the materiality of some of the best-loved objects of childhood will combine with the practical concerns of creating stories for children and communicating about the works.
Children's Books Courses
Creative Writing 269: Writing for Children
This course provides an introduction to writing for children, picture book through young adult, comparing and contrasting books from the Ellery Yale Wood Collection, as well as more contemporary books. In this class, students learn to read AS WRITERS noticing, as they read, the craft choices authors make. This course also discusses genre, child development and what special topics writers need to consider as they create stories for young readers. Reading will span contemporary books to classic, include many award-winning titles, and span an age range, books targeted for the earliest readers to young adults. Most significantly, each student creates their own picture book or early reader as well as the beginning of a novel for children or teens. Students also learn to give each other feedback in the workshop setting. Taught by Cordelia Jensen.
English 289: Topics in the Ellery Yale Wood Collection:The Fantastic in Children’s Literature
This class, taught by Chloe Flower, examines the history of the "fantastic" as a category in children's literature, with a particular focus on books held in the Ellery Yale Wood Collection. Students examine the origins of the "fantastic" in early folk and fairy tales, and trace the rise of ghost stories, fantasy novels, and general tales of magic in the 19th and 20th centuries. The course concludes by examining contemporary children's and young adult genres such as the urban fantasy and paranormal adventure. Students develop both critical reading and writing skills, with a particular eye to considering the ways in which "fantastic" worlds have been used throughout history to shape and reflect perennial questions of identity and community related to race, class, gender and sexuality.
Sociology 264: Sociology of Childhood
This course examines childhood from a sociological perspective, focused on how children shape and are shaped by their social worlds. The course begins by considering childhood as an historically constructed category that has changed over time and place. Next, the focus is on three institutions that are key agents of childhood socialization: the family, the school, and peers. Finally, students study topics that may be considered problems of childhood: commercialization and technology use, the medicalization of aspects of children’s life experiences, and delinquency and crime. Throughout the course, students consider how children’s lives are shaped by broader systems of inequality based on race, class, and gender. Taught by Amanda Cox.