LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

25 Books Ever Kid Should Have on Their Bookshelf

Any of these titles look familiar? What do you think of the list?

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Introducing Brittany Fining

Hello, class! My name is Brittany Fining.

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          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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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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Introduction

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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Introductions

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Greetings everyone! My name is Sarah Clow, and I happen to be attending the University of Florida despite being from Tallahassee. I’m a third year Japanese major, but I am also minoring in English. As a result, I am taking this class in order to complete my English minor, but mainly due to my interest in Children’s Literature. I always enjoyed reading fairy tales and fantasy novels as a child, but never really read the classics like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, which is why I would like to read them and explore the field now that I have the opportunity.

For this course, I am especially looking forward to reading Peter Pan. I started reading it on Project Gutenburg last semester, but only had a chance to fly to Neverland. I would very much like to complete the story and examine the contents a bit.
In terms of skills, I am always hoping to improve my skills as a writer. I find that while paper writing may be possible, it is never an easy task, and I would love to learn how to grow in that aspect.
The portion of the syllabus that concerns me the most is the participation portion. I am a naturally shy individual, hence it is always difficult for me to convince myself to participate in classes.

When it comes to Children’s Literature, I automatically think of Alice and WonderlandPeter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz. I also think of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Great Expectations. In my imagination, the classic books that belong under the category of Children’s Literature should be thick, heavy, decadent books with hand drawn illustrations. I feel that the term “Golden Age” refers to the time period where the Children’s Literature texts were flourishing in the Victiorian era, when the texts were viewed as not only children’s stories but works of art. My favorite text is that of Alice and Wonderland. I love the idea that a young girl has fallen down a rabbit hole in her mind.

This is my first course in Children’s Literature, but I hope I get the opportunity to take a couple more before I graduate. My hope is to understand how much of my preconceptions about Children’s Literature and The Golden Age are correct and what is incorrect, and learn a vast deal more.

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Rebekah’s Introduction

I am Rebekah Fitzsimmons and as you know, I am the instructor for this course.  I am a PhD candidate in the English department and I have been at UF for 5.5 years.  This is the first time I have taught Lit 4334, but I have taught many other classes, including ENC 1101, ENC 1102, AML 2070  and AML 2410.  I specialize in children’s literature, cultural studies and American literature.

I am originally from New England: I was born in Connecticut and went to high school in Pleasantville, NY (and no, it is nothing like the movie.)  For my undergrad, I attended Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  I majored in English and Creative Writing.  After I graduated, I worked for their Office of International Affairs as an event coordinator before applying to graduate school.

My masters thesis was on best seller lists and the “Harry Potter effect” in 2000, when the New York Times created a separate children’s literature best seller list because Harry Potter 1, 2, 3 and 4 were taking up too much space on the “real” best seller list.  My dissertation is (so far) about the ways in which experts in the publishing and child rearing industries have changed the definition of children’s literature in order to suit their own needs.  My aim is to graduate with a PhD in Children’s Literature in the spring of 2014, then go on to teach English and Children’s literature at the university level.

The major question on my mind while I designed the syllabus for the class was: “Who gets to decide which books become a classic?”  The Golden Age of Children’s literature is generally thought of as a time of immense production of literature aimed at children but many of the books that we consider to be children’s literature classics were written during this time.  I am curious to think though some questions about the canonization process, social hierarchies and various forms of expertise that allow an individual or an organization (like the American Library Association) to give awards, recommend texts and deem a book to be “a classic.”  Over the course of the semester, I hope we will question the meaning of that very word, “classic” and come to understand what people really mean when they use it to describe a work of children’s literature.

Just as you all have goals for your writing, I am also working towards some very serious writing goals.  I have been working on an academic article about The Hunger Games for a year or so, and I am hoping to submit it for publication this year.  I am also working on the second chapter of my dissertation.  I am very much looking forward to this semester, as I hope you are too!

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