‘North American Children’s Literature’ Reading List
This module aims to raise questions about the ‘Americanness’ of ‘American children’s literature’ through the reading of a wide range of texts labelled ‘American children’s literature’.
What constitutes national and cultural identity? How do critics define this, and how do they relate it to the reading of texts, or to notions of ‘literary history’ or genre?
How are ideas of ‘society’, ‘culture’, or ‘history’ used in criticism to produce ideas of identity and to read texts as relevant to such identities?
Primary texts to be read may include:
(but this may vary with availability and/ or student choices)
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
Lemony Snicket, The Unauthorised Autobiography of Lemony Snicket
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
Jack London, White Fang
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Mildred Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry
Ursula LeGuin, The Wizard of Earthsea
Judy Blume, Forever
Robert Cormier, After the First Death
Dr Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham.
For secondary reading, the suggested text is:
(please note however that this text is expensive, and you are not expected to buy it yourself: do look up a library copy)
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. Always challenging, the course approached and encouraged me to deal with many issues in a rigorously academic way. The work on the course was always innovative and now I can see how the course changed the way I can think about problems and solutions in both academic and non-academic contexts. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to deal with their own and other’s assumptions in a thoughtful and explorative way."Christopher Johnson, CIRCL MA 2015-2016
'Studying the MA in Children's Literature was an excellent introduction to and preparation for academic practice and further research as it provided me with an opportunity to engage in discussions surrounding the issues addressed by current researchers during CIRCL seminars in a nurturing and supportive environment.'Catrin Edwards, CIRCL MA 2006-7, CIRCL PhD 2010
'The Reading MA in Children's Literature was a stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. The course is intellectually demanding and wide-ranging in its approach to the field of children's literature and its cultural context. Though it focuses on the child in literature it is not restrictive. Many of the issues raised during the course of study are pertinent to all kinds of literature. There are ample opportunities for students to engage in discussion and to make their own con...Hilary Fraser, CIRCL MA 1999-2000, CIRCL PhD 2009
'I gained much more than I had expected from the MA. The course was not just about children's literature; it led me to reconsider the way I read, think, and argue. It prepared me for my PhD research and had an influence on my whole life. I can sincerely say that the MA in Children's Literature at Reading is worth attending, even if you need to travel all the way from the other side of the earth (which is more or less what I did, as an international student).'Yuko Ashitagawa, CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2002-5
'I was nervous doing the course as a part-time student as I worried that I may be at a disadvantage. This was definitely not the case. The course is structured so well, and the support I received from [the MA staff] Karin, Neil and Sue (as well as the other students over both years) ensured that I was given the same opportunities, guidance and experience as everyone else. I have really enjoyed this degree and I can see that it has changed the way I think. I would recommend it to anyone who...Samantha Horsfield, CIRCL MA 2011-13 (part-time)
Dr Evdokia (Kia) Michalopoulou, CIRCL MA, CIRCL PhD
Lisa Stallard, CIRCL MA 2011-12
'My undergraduate degree was English Literature with Education Studies at the University of Cambridge and as part of that course I took a module in Children's Literature and absolutely loved it. I therefore decided to research MA courses so that I could further develop my interest. I was advised by my tutors at Cambridge that the most rigorous course was the one offered by the University of Reading and I was thrilled to be offered a place. During the MA the tutors were friendly and support...Hannah Smith (now: Anglin-Jaffe), CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2005
'With great support from the tutors and friends I have had a wonderful year in exploring and reconsidering the way I have been thinking all my life. In many ways it is my personal journey during which I have learnt a lot, not only about how to (or not to) find an answer but also about how to raise a question. As an international student I would like to say that the MA is very challenging, yet very liberating.'Sireethorn (Pam) Simawathna, CIRCL MA 2012-13
Sara Zadrozny (then: Sara Broad), CIRCL MA 2003-4
'The Children’s Literature MA has aided my development of extensive academic skills and has introduced me to complex and fascinating theoretical approaches, which can be used to question supposedly obvious or accepted ideas encountered not just in Children’s Literature but across all types of literature. However, I also feel the MA has provided me with some essential skills including problem-identifying and solving by working out the implications and effects of the claims made by others, ...Gemma Budd, CIRCL MA 2010-11
Dr Haiya Dong, CIRCL Visiting Scholar 2018-19 Interview