LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature


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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Introducing Kevin Griffin



     Hey y’all!  My name’s Kevin Griffin and I’m a 4th year student majoring in Anthropology with two minors in English and Spanish from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  As I enter my final semester at the University of Florida, I’m gearing up to graduate in May and then move to Nashville, Tennessee, where I’ll be teaching Elementary English as a 2013 Corps Member of Teach For America.  Academics have been and continue to be my main priority to which I dedicate the majority of my time, but I also like to spend time reading, writing, working, staying fit, surfing, listening to music, and becoming involved with a plethora of campus organizations.

     There are several reasons for my wanting to enroll in this class.  I’ve taken various English courses throughout my life and especially at this university that have given me a very diverse knowledge of different writing techniques and genres, but one that I have yet to explore is one that was a crucial part of my life for so many years—Children’s Literature.  I believe that this is a genre that isn’t often glorified for how truly important it is in everyone’s lives, and it is not often given the credit that it deserves for shaping so many of our moral values and guidelines concerning the adults that we would eventually grow up to become.  With one upper-division English course remaining in my tracking audit for graduation with the successful completion of the minor, I knew that this would be the one class that I would enjoy taking above others to extend my knowledge of the subject into a new and unexplored realm.  I think that it’ll be a difficult feat to overcome in that we’ll have to explore texts that we’ve previously read in a new manner becoming of a college-educated adult, but I am willing to meet this challenge with sheer excitement as I rediscover stories such as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

     When I think of “Children’s Literature,” I imagine climbing into a tree house in my backyard, opening up a book with several eye-catching pictures, and being taken on an adventure courtesy of the author’s writing and my imagination filled with the perfect blend of fantasy and reality.  Please check out and read the entire series if you didn’t catch the allusion to a traveling tree house filled with adventurous children.  I think of reading completely fictional yet impressively creative stories of talking animals and magic that somehow shaped me into the person that I am today.  I imagine a younger version of me reading great stories from authors such as Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein.  I imagine myself begging my parents to get me the Harry Potter books as each of them were released in the United States so that I could travel back to Hogwarts alongside my favorite trio to fight bad wizards and learn the lessons taught by the various professors and mentors the three encountered. These stories are far-fetched enough to catch the interest of a young reader with a growing and impressionable mind; however, the maintain a level of educational value that can teach a young reader the differences between good and evil or right and wrong.  I’ve never taken a class centered around the subject before, but I can only imagine that the “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” refers to the most well-represented and elite time frame during which the most popular children’s stories were written and shared with the world, although I cannot entirely conceptualize the exact content of this age and what designates a story as belonging to the Golden Age at this time.

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HI GUYS—I’m Emily!


I am a vegan and a lover of tea and acoustic music and a Netflix addict and a bleedingheart liberal. I am also a writer: I write a little fiction and a little poetry and it is my goal to keep expanding as a writer. I was born and raised in Orlando, FL. I wish I could say I grew up, like any respectable Orlando child, in theme parks, but any moment I didn’t spend in the gym—I was a competitive gymnast for 12 years—I spent with my nose in a book. I graduated high school with an IB diploma, started college at UCF, lost my motivation, spent a couple weeks misbehaving at friends’ colleges, bounced around a couple community colleges, found my motivation, and ended up an English major (and Education minor) in my 3rd year at UF. I have a boyfriend named Zach who was my best friend in high school and is the captain of the UF quidditch team. I read a lot. Right now I’m reading “Coming Through Slaughter” by Michael Ondaatje and Tina Fey’s autobiography “BossyPants” (She hates cruises too. We are meant to be. Don’t tell my boyfriend).

This class obviously fulfills a requirement for upper-division English classes, but I’m also so excited to be revisiting stories and adventures from my childhood. In many ways, I’m still a big kid. Many of these books, while in their time written for children, seem more fitting in contemporary times for young adults, and as an aspiring high school English teacher I would love to have the background of exploring what makes them so classic and timeless in case I ever choose to cover them in my own teaching. I am especially looking forward to re-reading Peter Pan—it’s been too long—because the fear of growing up seems perfectly applicable at this point in my life as I attempt to become more financially independent and as I watch my friends get married. eeeek.

My idea of “children’s literature” is the typical one: colorful words and images on pages of all shapes and sizes exploring characters and places of great imagination. The section in the Barnes and Noble in Orlando with a reading circle area decorated as a wooded path comes to mind. Dr. Seuss, one of my all-time favorite children’s authors, comes to mind. Last semester I took Literature for the Adolescent with Professor Ulanowicz and I enjoyed every minute of it. In that class we explored the adult author’s voice in young adult fiction and many other ideas, but we never really explored in depth what makes a work of children’s’ or young adult literature worth canonizing. When I hear the term “golden age of children’s literature,” I think of works that are classically timeless. I think of works that, despite being written long ago, are ones that we will always be able to escape into.

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Hi, my name is Kenna Galloway! I’m a second year English major and have no idea what I want to focus on, so I’m just taking as many diverse English classes as I possibly can. Although I have to admit, children’s literature holds a special place in my heart.

In this class, I’m hoping to once again do something I thoroughly enjoy—look over and analyze works that I once read simply for entertainment. Last semester this involved dystopian young adult novels, and this semester it will be books I enjoyed as a child. My grandmother was a teacher and instructor of teachers for many years; she filled my childhood with books and stories and introduced me to a love of books that I still have today. Winnie the Pooh was one of the first chapter books I read on my own in elementary school. So, if I had to pick I would say I am most excited for the week we read this. The Pooh books by A.A. Milne are also, not surprisingly, my favorite children’s books. When I was eight I had the opportunity to see the real stuffed animal inspirations that belonged to Milne’s son, Christopher. You can see what they look like in an article about the exhibit at the New York Public Library here. Nothing on the syllabus worries me, but I am less excited about The Water Babies, The Princess and the Goblin, and Five Children and It, simply because I have not read them before.

To me, children’s literature is simply literature that is written for and read by children. Although I have not yet taken a class in children’s literature, I am taking two this semester. Along with this class I am also taking ENL2930 Children’s Literature, which is a much more general overview of children’s literature, past and present. It will be interesting for me to compare these two classes and compare the information I learn from them. The “Golden Age” to which this class refers quite obviously refers to a golden or plentiful time in which children’s literature was being produced, in quantity and quality. I’m very excited to learn more about this, how the state of the world in this “Golden Age” affected children’s literature, and how it provoked a growth of the genre.

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Introductory Blog

Hi there, I’m Heather! I’m a second year accident-prone and occasionally awkward English and Linguistics major from Miami, Florida. I’m a herpetology assistant at the Museum of Natural History on campus and I’m an assistant director of Social Media in Student Government Productions. I was originally a Zoology major but decided to change my major once I realized 1) I hate math and chemistry and 2) I understood every reference in the English Major Armadillo meme. I love Star Wars, pugs, LOST, and traveling (I’m working on going to a national park every summer; I’ve got Yosemite and Denali down).

As an English major, I have a particular interest in (you guessed it…) literature, especially children’s lit. I’ve often been described as a child at heart and perhaps this is true. My favorite movie is Disney’s Peter Pan and my favorite book is Burnett’s Secret Garden. Therefore, selecting this class was a no-brainer (though I did have to stalk ISIS for about 12 hours straight).  When I was a kid, I spent most of my time reading (perhaps this is why I am the way I am) and I often found myself enjoying books more than anything else. With that said (or rather, written) I’m definitely looking forward to Burnett and Barrie, but I’m interested in the entire list of works as a whole. I’m also looking forward to further developing writing skills, as there is no such thing as a perfect writer. I’m also looking forward to this class because my best friend back home is in the process of writing a children’s book published by Scholastic. To popularize the book before its release, her and I are taking a cross-country tour through the US and Canada in the summer along with some folks from Scholastic. I’m sure this class will definitely enrich my experience and of course, my enjoyment of her book (which is actually a series!).

Children’s literature is absolutely timeless and allows one to re-experience the glories of childhood as well as immerses the reader in a world that is much more magical than our own. Lighthearted and whimsical, children’s literature creates a new experience for adults and perpetuates the magic of imagination and fantasy. It allows childhood to extend far beyond the years before double digits. Though I have never taken a course on children’s literature, I am looking forward to a new experience and I hope I won’t be disappointed. With a course called the Golden Age and a syllabus that is reminiscent of years long ago, one cannot go wrong.


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