Children’s Literature and Artistic Expression: Touching the Stories Within Us

In this course, we will explore children’s literature through the lens of developmental appropriateness (prekindergarten through grade six), through the concept of story as motivation for learning to read and becoming a lifelong reader, as a window on the particularities of period and place, and as an avenue to examine opportunities that books can provide for reflection of cultural heritage and exposure to the experiences of others. Course readings will include developmental, literary, and educational perspectives and, of course, the children’s books themselves: picture books, books for the emerging reader, and novels for the fluent elementary-age reader. The place of literature in the classroom involves careful choice on the part of teachers. This implies classroom libraries that support children’s interests and heritage, that intrigue children through pictures and text, and that eventually lead elementary-age children to discover new “worlds” that lie within the covers of chapter books. Students will consider these issues, as well as the importance of reading aloud to children at each grade level. An integral component of the course will be an investigation of ways in which literature can inspire artistic expression in a well-provisioned classroom. Early childhood and elementary classroom environments that provide appropriate opportunities for dramatic play, painting and drawing, sculpture and three-dimensional work, writing, and book-making can enhance and expand children’s interactions with books. Students in the course will themselves have occasion to make meaning through a variety of artistic media as an extension of their readings. Course expectations include a major paper focused on the age range(s) of the students’ certification area(s), bibliographies of children’s books gathered from course readings, and field trips to a local college bookstore, to public libraries, and to children’s bookstores.