‘Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Children’s Literature’ Reading List
This module aims to explore a selection of children’s fiction, poetry and picture-books, and introduce students to a wide range of twentieth-century children’s literature. It also considers different critical approaches to children’s literature and addresses questions that recur throughout the MA degree: e.g. what is children’s literature? How do texts relate to history and national and cultural identity? How are critical ideas about genre related to children’s literature? What is the relevance of contemporaneity to ideas about children’s literature and how does children’s literature relate to categories of high and popular culture?
The module is divided into two parts: the first covers the period roughly from 1900 to 1950, the second part covers the period from 1950 to the present. In the first part the discussion will Graduate Centre on authors such as Kenneth Grahame, Beatrix Potter, J. M. Barrie, Frances Hodgson Burnett, A. A. Milne, E. Nesbit, and J. R. R. Tolkien. The majority of the texts studied will be British, though works by American, Australian, New Zealand and European writers (in translation) may also be included.
For the second part of the unit, students and tutors together negotiate the content of the syllabus.
This is a preliminary reading list of primary texts only. Students wishing to prepare for the course in advance are recommended to read the books mentioned in section A below.
Section A: Twentieth (and Twenty-first) Century Children’s Literature, Autumn Term Reading List
(Texts arranged approximately in the order in which they’ll be studied)
C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
J. M. Barrie, Peter and Wendy (There are many variants of this text, published under different titles, so please read either the Puffin Classics edition of Peter Pan or the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Peter and Wendy which is published with Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck and the Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle
Henry Williamson, Tarka The Otter Please note this text may be taught in 2018-19 instead in Spring Term!
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons
Eve Garnett, The Family from One End Street Please note this text may be taught in 2018-19 instead in Spring Term!
E. Nesbit, The Railway Children
(note: the authors and titles will vary slightly, depending in part upon which additional [options] courses are chosen)
Section B: Spring Term Reading List
In the second part of the course, covering the period 1950 to the present day, texts are chosen by the students and tutors together.
'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)
Sara Zadrozny (then: Sara Broad), CIRCL MA 2003-4
“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
'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
'Studying the Children’s Literature MA at Reading was a hugely challenging and rewarding experience for me. When I began the course I had no idea how much my own thinking, reading and argument would develop, so much so that by the end I considered continuing with a PhD. A year after completing the MA I won University Studentship funding to undertake a PhD at CIRCL. I would recommend the Children’s Literature MA to anybody who wishes to develop their critical thinking in any subject area, n...Helen Ainslie, CIRCL MA 2004-5, CIRCL PhD 2006-9
'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
My one year’s visit in CIRCL is the most rewarding academic experience that I have ever had. I found the [M(Res.)] seminars very stimulating. With “positive reinforcement”, all the participants are encouraged and involved. I am always encouraged and inspired by the discussions that were held in the seminars, which are though-provoking and very interactive, heated sometimes yet always in a very pleasant and harmonious atmosphere. I am greatly indebted to Karin, Neil and Sue for their wonder...JIANG Jianli (Tina), Associate Professor, Qingdao Technological University, China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow 2016-17
Dr Haiya Dong, CIRCL Visiting Scholar 2018-19 Interview
'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
The [M(Res)] seminars I attended in CIRCL during my one year’s visit are always inspiring and profound, which have greatly improved my research skills and changed my mindset for doing research in children’s literature. The seminars taught me to find the perspectives in the text we analysed and develop my own judgment, which is the most challenging yet most rewarding thing in doing research. From my own experience as a teacher, such seminars are most effective in forging critical and indepe...XU Derong (David), Associate Professor, Ocean University of China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow, 2016-17
Dr Evdokia (Kia) Michalopoulou, CIRCL MA, CIRCL PhD
'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
Lisa Stallard, CIRCL MA 2011-12