LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Introducing Brittany Fining

Hello, class! My name is Brittany Fining.


          I am a fourth year student majoring in English with minors in Education and Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. My hobbies include reading, running, and spending time with my family and sorority sisters. I am originally from Brooklyn, New York, but lived in New Jersey for most of my childhood before moving to Punta Gorda, Florida just before high school. Upon graduation, I will be moving back to New York City to teach as a Teach for America 2013 Corps member. I could not be  more excited to move back to my favorite city and start impacting students’ lives!

I am really looking forward to taking this course. Since my plan for the past two years has been to teach after I graduate, I have found that taking classes on children’s and adolescent literature and culture have seemed not only most relevant to me, but have also interested me the most. This will be my fifth class offered by Center for Children’s Literature and Culture. This semester, I am looking forward to revisiting many of my favorite stories from my childhood, such as The Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden, and analyzing them from a new, scholarly perspective.

I have loved reading since I was a small child. My favorite thing about books is that no matter how many times you may read them, they always affect you differently depending on where you are in life at the time that you are reading them. My favorite book from my childhood is The Giving Tree, a picture book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. To me, children’s literature refers to books that are primarily targeted toward children. I have learned, though, that often “children’s” books are much more structurally and thematically complex than they seem when taken at face value. To me, the term “Golden Age” refers to the time in our culture when the idea of children was romanticized, and children were treasured. It’s end marked a turning point not only in our literary culture, but our general social culture, in reference to how children were regarded.

I am looking forward to further exploring these texts and  topics throughout this course and getting to know you all better!

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Hi! My name is Alexa Zelinski.  I was born in Youngstown, Ohio but grew up in not so far away Jacksonville, Florida.  I love books, cats, and crafts.  But, believe it or not, I am not actually an 89 year old woman- see attached picture for proof. Image I am a third year English major at UF, but am technically a senior by credits and will be graduating in December of this year.  That’s a scary thought, to be honest! I am minoring in both Anthropology and Business and am hoping to get into the publishing business when I graduate- wish me luck.

I’m taking this class because I am following the English department’s “Children’s Literature” model of study and this is the last course on my list! I’m hoping to improve my class participation skills because I’m a rather quiet person so I’m going to try to speak up more.  I am most looking forward to reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.  It was one of my favorite stories as a child.  In third grade, I read Carroll’s original book, and watched every movie adaption I could get my hands on!  Nothing on the syllabus worries me too much, other than remembering to post my blogs on time…

My idea of children’s literature has changed a lot since I came to college and took courses on the subject (Children’s Literature, Literature for the Young Child, Adolescent Literature, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales).  When someone mentions children’s literature, I think of  any book which is read and enjoyed by a child.  Children’s literature doesn’t necessarily have to be read exclusively by, nor does it have to be written specifically for, children.  I feel that children can read books traditionally written for adults, and vice-versa.

Some of my favorite children’s literature texts are J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter (I think this one’s a given for many people in our generation), Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline, and Kay Thompson’s Eloise.  I may be in the market for some new favorites soon.  Currently, I am working my way (albeit slowly) through 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.  Read all about my progress on my blog, which can be conveniently found right here.

Lastly, when I think of the term “Golden Age,” I think of a time when everything is working in unison- talented authors, engaging stories, a willing audience.  I feel like timing has a lot to do with the creation of a “Golden Age.”  I also think that it is a time that is often looked back on with longing and held to a higher standard, even if the time itself did not always live up to the hype that surrounds it, the designation of a time period as a “Golden Age” carries with it a romantic, nostalgic notion.

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Hey ya’ll I’m Kaley Nesvacil and I am from Lakeland, FL which is in between Tampa and Orlando. I am a fourth year English major with a Professional Teaching minor. I am graduating in December and I plan on either becoming an elementary teacher or starting an English school at a church in Jaco, Costa Rica.

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I decided to take The Golden Age of Children’s Literature because I wanted to learn about books that I could possibly be using in my curriculum during the future. Being that I want to teach elementary school I thought it would be a good idea to familiarize myself with classic children’s books. I also am taking this class to meet my graduation requirements. But at least I am able to take a fun class to fulfill that need! I hope to gain knowledge in what is acceptable for children to read today. I want my students and future children to be able to enjoy reading with a book that stands the tests of time. 

The book I look forward to reading the most is actually the one we are reading this week. I love fairy tales like The Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and Cinderella; reading different versions of the stories is fascinating. Reading it so far has been fun  because the stories are completely different from the sugar-coated Disney tales and it has been very refreshing!  I must say the part of the syllabus I am not looking forward to is reading some of the critical articles. I am not much of a non-fiction reader so the notion of having to read a non-fiction article each week is not very exciting to me. But I am hoping to learn something from it.

When I think of children’s literature I think of books like Cat in the Hat, Junie B. Jones, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and The Boxcar Children or books that I was interested in as a child. But thinking back on those short stories and small novels, I have realized that they are full of adventure and fun things but many times give a moral lesson at the end. The character always evolves at the end of the novel and learns something about life. When I think of the term “children’s literature” I think of books for children that inspire imagination but also good judgement and small life lessons. As for “golden age” I believe this refers to the time period when many of the famous stories we have read were written and published. I think it was the apex of children’s literature, the time when the “classics” were read by children all over Western civilization.


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Introductory Blog: Nicole Georges

kid lit Hi! My name is Nicole Georges and I am a senior graduating in Political Science with a double minor in English and Theatre. I am from St. Petersburg, Florida.

I have always loved reading and as a result of growing up as an only child, I found solace and comfort from the characters that I would read about. While my outgoing personality never allows much room for silence, I am most comfortable when I find a good book that can make me forget about what is going on around me.  My love for reading began as a child, which is to some extent a  reason for taking this course; to go back to a time of innocence and naivety where my main concern was to stay up later than my bed time in order to get to the next chapter of a book. As I’ve grown older, it has become increasingly more difficult to find the time to appreciate literature, and I am hoping that this class will rekindle the love I felt every Friday night when my dad would take me to Barnes & Noble to get a new book.

It is difficult to say which text I am looking forward to reading most, because each of  these novels has in some way shaped my reading as a child. However, what I am most looking forward to in this course is the ability to revisit these timeless classics to take a more analytic look in order to assess a deeper meaning and message that I may have missed prior.

My idea of “children’s literature”, and more specifically, the Golden Age of this genre, is that this is the beginning of the imaginative minds of many children. In the fables of Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glassand The Wonderful Wizard of Ozchildren are given the ability to imagine a world completely separate from reality, to dream of the impossible. Children’s literature gives our youth the ability to use words in order to traverse to an unknown world that is not only timeless, but infinite with possibilities of what we can accomplish for the future. While I have never taken a children’s literature course before, I am anxious to learn this semester about how the novels that have shaped my life, have also shaped the lives of others and the literary community. The term “Golden Age” refers to a time in literature that is revered not only for its timelessness, but also for how it demonstrates a time of historic excellence that continues to shape society today.

While I have enjoyed many classics growing up, I find it difficult to narrow it down to one book as my favorite. I will say though, that children’s literature has helped me become the reader I am today and has opened my imagination to think outside of the box. I am extremely excited to learn more about these stories in order to continue the discovery of these the literary legacies.

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Hi, I’m Sandra.

Hi, everybody.  My name is Sandra M. Mejia.  I am a 5th year student majoring in Psychology and Japanese with a minor in English and a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate.  I am a New Yorker at the core since I moved to Florida during high school.  My hope is to go back to the north after finishing schooling here in Florida and teach high school English. Also, due to my interests and having studied abroad in Japan, I want stop in Asia to teach at some point in the near future, but we’ll see what happens.

from January 2011

Here is a picture of me.  Be warned: my hair color changes often.  🙂

Now onto why I am taking this class.  As I said before, I want to teach high school so I thought a course on Children’s Literature would be relevant.  Now that I’ve seen the list of books we’re reading, they are definitely quite relevant, and I think it’s interesting that we’ll be analyzing them.  I’m looking forward to reading everything on the list, especially the books I’ve never even heard of like The Water Babies and The Princess and the Goblin.  I am a little worried that we have spent too much time talking about whether or not it is valid to study children’s literature or not and why it matters, so I hope we don’t come back to this topic.  Why would we have the class if it wasn’t valid, you know?  I think it’s completely valid as a field of study, and I don’t see why studying the Harry Potter series would be any different from analyzing the content and meaning of Moby Dick.  If you look at literature studies in general, it’s basically a bunch of bookworms who love to read and study what they read.  You could almost say that about any field of study in higher education.  They are full of people who are really interested in a topic and just want to share it with the rest of the world, so why not?

As for what I think defines “Children’s Literature,” I’m not sure what else to say besides children’s literature is made up of the books written with children as the intended audience and any books children themselves actually pick up to read.  I’ve never thought about trying to define what kinds of books children’s literature is comprised of, and when I was child (baby age to about 8th grade), I was quite the bookworm and read all kinds of things.  I actually don’t really care which books are defined to be children’s literature because every child is different, and how quickly they develop and age don’t always match whatever is considered “normal” or “average” so I think whatever list that would be is irrelevant when considering what a child will actually read.  However, a list would be useful to help parents in choosing books for their children when they might not know what to pick up themselves.

Anyways, I’m excited to read all the books assigned for this class and to gain new perspectives on the ones I read when I was younger.  🙂

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Hello all,

My name is Tyrel Clayton, and I am a third year student, majoring in English.  I am from an itty bitty town called Live Oak, Florida, to which I hope never to return. I make bad jokes that most people don’t get. I enjoy swing dancing, and devote most of my time and energy to perfecting that activity. I also like Doctor Who, Pokemon(,) video games, and Sherlock. I look like this on my bad days. Which is most of them.



I wanted to take this class because I enjoy learning about Children’s Literature.  It takes away a great deal of the stress associated with dealing with an “adult” book because its content is accessible to everyone, and everyone can reasonably add something to a conversation about children’s books. I also love the fact that a field which is based on such (so-called) simple books is actually quite complex and difficult to deal with (at least in studies with other academics).

I’m looking forward to working on my analysis skills.  Children’s books are perfect for this because  their simplicity requires you to actually work at analyzing them, you can’t just pull something out of the complex heart of darkness in the middle and run with it.

My idea of Children’s Literature is pretty straight forward: literature/books I would give or read to my kids. This, for me at least, is a pretty broad definition, and ranges from the obvious (The Cat in the Hat, Winnie-the-Pooh) to the slightly unexpected (The Hobbit, Harry Potter) to the books you might raise an eyebrow at (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet) to the, “Wait, what?” (The Canterbury Tales).

I have taken one class on Children’s Literature before, with John Cech.

I think the term “Golden Age” means the greatest era on the timeline of Children’s Lit history. It refers to when the best books were coming out–the books that we base all the other books on, the timeless books that we can still relate to today.

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Introduction: Alex Haley


Hi kids, my name is Alex Haley. I hail from Tarpon Springs, in the Tampa Bay area, though I was born and raised in Jamaica. I’m a third year English major focusing on children’s literature, as well as a recently declared Mass Communication minor. My concentration on children’s and YA literature stems from my desire to eventually work as a development editor for YA books. I remind myself daily that this is a legitimate career goal, but I suspect that my interest in YA books only exists because I never ‘grew up’ and started reading ‘real books.’ I currently love the fairy-tale-retellings trending in YA books.

This class fits in nicely with my literary interests. I’m excited for all of the reading, especially Five Children and It, which I adored as a child. I am also interested in studying what makes these ‘classic’ texts so timelessly appealing. The group project is the most worrisome (does anyone actually like group projects? Please correct me if you do), but I’m sure a project with students in an upper level course will be much better than the ones I had to endure in high school.

For me, children’s literature includes any text that was published with children as the intended audience. I took Cech’s Children’s Literature course and Ulanowicz’s Adolescent Literature course last semester, and the latter was definitely the best class I’ve ever taken. I think the term ‘Golden Age’ means the classic, turn of the century works for children that evoke the strongest nostalgia for childhood.

When I’m not reading, I enjoy collecting vintage clothes, riding horses and swing dancing. (The facebook group link is here for any interested parties). I also sing for a twelve piece 1930’s and 40’s jazz band, which is definitely not as cool as it sounds. I’m one of the only two members under sixty.

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Me, Myself, and Michael: Introduction

for introduction

Hello fellow classmates! Some people call me…  Michael Gonzalez although most people don’t use my full name and just call me Michael. I am a junior at the University of Florida (shocker on that second part I’m sure) and am currently enrolled in the Classics Major. Hopefully soon, when I finish up my application, I’ll be accepted to double Major in English though I’m unsure about my “focus” since I enjoy writing creative works. A fun fact about me is that in 2011 I wrote a nano during NaNoWriMo. I am also a Hispanic who was born and raised in suburban Miami, and true to the stereotype, I am Cuban. Furthermore, I am also Jewish, though I’ve been told I don’t look it but I didn’t really know that there is a distinctive “Jewish” look but oh well.

I decided to sign up for Golden Age of Children’s Literature on the recommendation of Professor John Cech with whom I took “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” last semester. I’m taking this course because I am interested in Children’s literature as well as working towards my intended English Degree. For this class I am looking forward to reading Winnie the Pooh as well as Peter Pan.

My idea of “Children’s Literature” entails any book that was either intended to be read by young children or any book, through rabid spread in popularity or other reasons, come to be read by children. I have never taken a children’s literature course though I have taken several courses, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, that could be construed as children’s literature. My favorite children’s title must be the Harry Potter series because of nostalgia, enjoyment, and how I can place my love of literature squarely on my reading the first two books. Finally, I feel that the term “Golden Age” applies to the era that we would place in the classic literature section of the bookstore in the exercise we performed in class.

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IMG_0483   Hello everybody,

My name is Joanna Klager and I am entering my final semester here at the University of Florida.  I double majored in English and Linguistics with a TESL focus.  I am in love with the outdoors, hiking, climbing, camping, canoeing, skiing, and sand volleyball are among some of my favorite activities. However, living in Florida can make hiking and climbing pretty difficult so in an effort to get out of the rock gym for a while I spent the summer in North Carolina teaching rock climbing to young girls at a summer camp.  Being at summer camp and not having the ability to get books whenever I wanted I began to borrow books from the campers. They all bring about ten with them to camp.  This had me reading books that I had not read in a very long time.  I also decided to jump on the Hunger Games bandwagon, great decision.

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I had never taken a Children’s Literature class before but with my renewed enjoyment in these sorts of books I decided to take a look in to taking one.  The syllabus looks absolutely lovely and I do not know where to start on what I am most excited about.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Goblin, and The Secret Garden are among the ones I am  happy we are reading.  To narrow it down a little further I am looking forward to Lewis Carroll’s works.  My boyfriends Grandfather is a huge fan of Carroll and is even a part of the Lewis Carroll society which gathers every year in England for a dinner and reading of The Hunting of the Snark.  I was lucky enough to spend a portion of the summer with him and he taught me a lot more about Carroll. I am very interested in being able to revisit these works and see what new things I can take away from the novellas.  Also, The Princess and the Goblin is of great excitement for me because not only do I love this book but I also always enjoyed the film version and am excited to see how my readings/viewings of these texts have evolved with my age.

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I think some of my favorite “Children’s Literature” reads would have to be A Little Princess, The Phantom Tollbooth, To Kill a Mockingbird and, Little House on the Prairie.  My favorite picture book is definitely Goodnight Moon and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

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The concept of “Children’s Literature”  to me entails reading anything that would spark the imagination  of child.  I also think it entails reading novels which are written with a difficulty appropriate for a child to read.  The range of Children’s Literature should in my opinion be vast and not limited to the novels that appear on  a school reading list.  The Golden Age emerged from Greek mythology and referred to the “Ages of Man.” According to the Greeks the Golden Age was the period of time where things were most prosperous and eventually would lead to the Iron Age, which is the period of decline.  I think the concept of the “Golden Age” for literature is a period of time when people believed things were a little better for novels. It was during this time that noteworthy fiction was being written.  Writers were creating utopian fantasies in their works as a means of preservation for childhood.  I do not believe that this means that the only noteworthy texts for children have already been written, I also do not think we should put limitations on who the readers of these texts should be.

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Lauren Leshansky: An Introduction


Salutations fellow literature lovers,

My name is Lauren Leshansky and I am an English major currently finishing my 4th year of undergraduate. I transferred from Miami-Dade Honors College with an Associate of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, however, after reporting for two years (and simultaneously taking creative writing classes) I realized studying literature and writing poetry was what I truly enjoyed doing. Upon entering UF, I swiftly changed my major to English and applied for a spot in an upper division advanced writing seminar.

Although I haven’t taken a children’s literature course prior to this one, I am eager to delve into the fantastical world, which intrigues and fascinates so many children. I hope that analyzing children’s literature will help my future aspiration to write a children’s book in collaboration with my brother, who is an extremely talented illustrator. Also, I am excited to revisit stories I have forgotten about over time. The Little Prince is one book that impacted my childhood greatly, and although it’s not part of the curriculum, reading other “classics” will undoubtedly invigorate my love for children’s literature.

Outside of the literary realm, I am a lover of music. I play guitar, bass, and drums, and am currently attempting to start an all girl electro-pop punk band. I also started a basketball crew this past summer called, “The Creepy Brawlers.” If anyone is interested in joining either of these, let me know!

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