You will study Children’s Literature in English at The Open University UK, ranging from its beginnings in eighteenth-century chapbooks and fairy tales, through seminal nineteenth-century novels, to contemporary examples of fiction illustrating current trends.
The module also includes the study of picture books old and new, stage performance and film, young adult fiction, storytelling and poetry. You will learn about the distinctiveness and purposes of children’s literature, its prestigious and popular modes and its different representations of children’s worlds.
The study of children’s literature is fast becoming established at both undergraduate and graduate level with its own academic journals and critical literature, and collections of children’s literature are held in many major libraries and museums. In addition, the success of authors such as J. K. Rowling or Philip Pullman suggests that children’s literature is thriving and developing in the twenty-first century.
In short, children’s literature matters; it is significant to parents, educators, librarians, psychologists, childhood studies students and students of literature and – most importantly – to children themselves.
The module is organised in six blocks.
Audiovisual material relating to each of the six blocks is presented online. This material includes theatre and storytelling performances, interviews with children, authors and publishers, mini-lectures and discussions. In addition, the interactive activities provide an introduction to literary, stylistic and multimodal analysis of children’s literature, to support your work on the set texts.
In this module, you will study key examples of novels, picture books, poems and creative performance produced for children aged 3–18 years old. These examples are drawn from different periods of Anglophone children’s literature.
Alongside the study of these texts and performances, you will read a selection of related critical material and consider some of the major themes, issues and debates in the field.
These include the relationship between children's literature and the conceptions of childhood, the question of whether children’s literature should instruct or delight, the tension between popular and prestigious literature for children, and the connection/association between oral, written and visual modes.
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