2012 Social Justice in Children’s/YA Reading List

LIS 7963 (40296) Social Justice and Children’s/YA Literature
SYLLABUS | 2012 Summer | MLIS Program | St. Catherine University

Catalog Description

In this course, students will learn how to select, evaluate and analyze depictions and aspects of social justice and injustice in children’s and young adult literature. We will consider topics such as power, racism, diversity, violence, perspective, publishing trends, authorship, illustrations, and ideology. We will also consider how these texts may be used in library programming.

Reading List

  • Ballard, Robert L. Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? Voices for and by Adopted Teens
  • Barakat, Ibtisam. Tasting the Sky
  • Bausam, Ann. Denied, Detained, Deported
  • Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  • Brannen, Sarah S. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding
  • Cali, Davide and Serge Bloch. The Enemy
  • Campbell, Nicola A. Shi-Shi-Etko
  • Cha, Dia. Dia’s Story Cloth
  • Choi, Yangsook. The Name Jar
  • Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games
  • Cottin, Menana. The Black Book of Colors
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul. Elijah of Buxton
  • de la Peña, Matt. Mexican White Boy
  • Edwardson, D.D. My Name is not Easy
  • Elliott, Zetta. A Wish After Midnight
  • Ellis, Deborah. Off to War: Voices of Soldier’s Children
  • Fradin, Dennis Brindell and Judith Bloom Fradin. Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy
  • Hoose, Phillip M. Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice
  • Lowry, Lois. The Giver
  • Mickenberg, Julia M and Philip Nel (eds). Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature
  • Mochizuki, Ken. Baseball Saved Us
  • Myers, Walter Dean. Monster
  • Naidoo, Beverly. Burn My Heart
  • Nivola, Claire A. Planting the Trees of Kenya
  • Park, Linda Sue. When My Name Was Keoko
  • Perkins, Mitali. First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover
  • Rhuday-Perkovich, Olugbemisola. Eighth-Grade Superzero
  • Russell, Ching Yeung. Tofu Quilt
  • Sanchez, Alex. Rainbow Boys
  • Senzai, N.H. Shooting Kabul
  • Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. Moses
  • Williams, Karen Lynn. My Name Is Sangoel
  • Wilson, Janet. One Peace: True Stories of Young Activists
  • Yep, Laurence. The Traitor


Required Readings

Mickenberg, Julia M. and Philip Nel, eds. (2008). Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature. New York University.

Optional Readings

Nodelman, Perry and Mavis Reimer. The Pleasures of Children’s Literature, 2nd Edition.
Cart, Michael. From Romance to Realism.


WEEK 1 | Mon June 4 | Introduction

  • Tales for Little Rebels, Forward, Acknowledgments, Introduction and Part I: “R is for Rebel”
  • Nodelman, Perry. “The Other: Orientalism, Colonialism, and Children’s Literature.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 17.1, 1992.
  • Larrick, Nancy. “The All-White World of Children’s Books.” Saturday Review, Sep. 11, 1965.
  • Derman-Sparks, Louise. “10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism.” From Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children. Washington, DC: NAEYC, 1980. [Google search for the PDF from UNCC]

Youth Literature

  • Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games
  • Wilson, Janet. One Peace: True Stories of Young Activists
  • Bring to class a children’s or YA book that you think speaks to a social justice issue. Be prepared to explain.

WEEK 1 | Wed June 6 | Slavery, Colonizing the Body & Publishing

Youth Literature

  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
  • Elliott, Zetta. A Wish After Midnight
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul. Elijah of Buxton

LIS7210 Library Materials for Children Reading List

They always ask, so here it is! Specific readings for the first day of class, and a list of readings for the rest of the semester. Happy reading!

Course Overview

Selection, evaluation and use of media for children in elementary schools and public libraries. Materials in curricular areas are studied along with an examination of the relationships of materials to developmental characteristics and individual differences of the child, to curriculum and recreation, to the exceptional child and to a multicultural society. 3 credits.

We will engage in a variety of teaching/learning methods to cover the course material, including but not limited to: lecture, small/large group discussions, independent and group projects, written and oral presentations.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • To understand of the history of children’s literature;
  • To be familiar with a range of authors, works, genres and media;
  • To discuss, evaluate and promote children’s literature/resources;
  • To learn strategies for connecting young people with literature;
  • To identify and discuss literary and societal trends and issues (war, refugee, migration, class, gender, etc) affecting materials and work with youth in libraries and schools.

Week 1 | Sept 10 | Introduction, Picture Books and Publishing



  • White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web
  • Montgomery. L.M.  Anne of Green Gables

Picture Books

  • Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are
  • Burton, Virginia Lee. The Little House.
  • Carle, Eric. Any picture book.


  • Bring in one of your favorite picture books and children’s novels from your childhood.  Be prepared to talk about why the books meant something to you or why you still remember them years later.  Pick books that are not on the syllabus.

For the remainder of the semester, in alphabetical order:


  • Horning, Kathleen T. From Cover to Cover. Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books


  • Barrie, J.M.  Peter Pan  (read, watch, or listen to any version of Peter Pan/ Peter and Wendy)
  • Cleary, Beverly. Ramona and Her Father
  • Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963
  • Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House
  • Freedman, Russell. Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Han, Jenny. Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream
  • Harris, Robie. It’s Perfectly Normal: A Book About Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health
  • Jimenez, Francisco. The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child
  • Kent, Rose. Kimchi & Calamari
  • Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1
  • Kurtz, Jane. The Storyteller’s Beads
  • Look, Lenore. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
  • Lovelace, Maud Hart. Betsy-Tacy
  • Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars
  • Rowling, J.K.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Light in the Attic, OR Falling Up
  • Sterling, Shirley. My Name is Seepeetza
  • Uchida, Yoshiko. Journey to Topaz
  • Vanderpool, Clare. Moon Over Manifest.
  • Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie
  • Wiles, Deborah. Countdown: A Novel.
  • Williams-Garcia, Rita . One Crazy Summer.

Picture Books

  • Alarcon, Francisco X. Poems to Dream Together/Poemas Para Sonar Juntos
  • Cha, Dia. Dia’s Story Cloth
  • Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham
  • González, Lucia. The Storyteller’s Candle
  • Herron, Carolivia. Nappy Hair
  • Levine, Arthur. Monday is One Day
  • Myers, Walter Dean. Jazz
  • Newman, Leslea. Heather Has Two Mommies
  • Pak, Soyung. Dear Juno
  • Richardson, Justin. And Tango Makes Three
  • Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. A Gift for Papá Diego
  • Say, Allen. Grandfather’s Journey
  • Scieszka, Jon and Lane Smith. The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Jingle Dancer
  • Stead, Philip. A Sick Day for Amos McGee
  • Swanson, Susan Marie. The House In the Night
  • Willems, Mo. Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! and Can I Play Too?
  • Young, Ed. Lon Po Po

What Do (Recovering) Professors Do All Day?

2010 Children's Literature Association Conference: me, Dr. Betsy Hearne, and Minjie Chen

A continuation of yesterday’s post, “What do (sick) professors do all day?” based on my friend and colleague Dr. Phil Nel‘s weeklong series, “What do professors do all day?” I’ve been ill since last Wednesday/Thursday, but I don’t feel like I’m dying anymore, hence, “recovering professor.” It doesn’t mean “recovering” as if being a professor totally thrashed me 🙂 As most of you know, I *heart* my job.

Side note: Last night I went home and reviewed for my LIS 7180 Storytelling for Adults and Children course until about… 2am. So Tuesday’s work tally was 9 hours and 45 minutes + 2 hours = 11 hours and 45 minutes.

Wednesday February 23, 2011

8:30-9:30 AM Woke up. Relieved that I’m not deathly ill as I was the past few days. Checked FB and email, showered and got ready for the day.

9:30-9:40 AM Ate breakfast and did my daily Bible devotional reading.

9:40-10:00 AM Prepared lunch and put away dishes while warming up car (I live in MN – baby, it’s cold outside).

10:20-10:30 AM Got into my office, Couer de Catherine 51, and started this blog post.

10:30-10:45 AM Continued (re)reading “Children’s Emotional Attachment to Stories” by Alexander, Miller & Hengst. This article was on my Youth Literature and Services field exam when I was a PhD student. A must-read for anyone concerned with the importance of stories and storytelling in young people’s lives.

10:45-11:05 AM Stopped by the library to pick up Children and Books, the book that Janice Del Negro wrote about in the article I (re)read yesterday. Also stopped by the dining hall to pick up a French Vanilla Cappuccino, my drug of choice when on campus.

11:05-11:22 AM Phone meeting with Linda Mays, Program Officer at ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) to discuss a webinar she wants me to do. Yikes. This is a great opportunity, but I needed a few minutes to think about whether or not I want to take it. We said we’d be in touch again on Friday.

11:22-11:32 AM Discussed ALSC opportunity with Tarie (this girl never sleeps – she just reads and writes and writes and writes and supports her colleagues/friends). She said, “Think of the children,” and I crumbled. Yes, I’m doing it. For the children! FTC!

11:32-:1142 AM Checked FB.

11:42-11:50 AM Finished (re)reading “Young Children’s Emotional Attachment to Stories.” As I continued reading it, I became more and more curious how the data and analyses might change if the children weren’t of European American heritage. To be fair, the authors concede that this is an area in need of more research. How might Asian American children react to stories with white protagonists? Do Korean American children become attached to Korean folk tales? Or are they just as attached to Disney’s Cinderella? Does culture matter?

11:50-12:30 PM (Re)read “Swapping Tales and Stealing Stories: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Folklore in Children’s Literature” by Dr. Betsy Hearne (Library Trends 47:3, Winter 1999): “Is there a difference, ultimately, between folktale, personal narrative, family lore, and fiction in the way we use story as daily habit? We, otherwise known as the folk, use stories to explain our lives not literally… but figuratively… The only way to reconcile the differences between the conflicting needs of borrowing and owning stories is to try and realize the benefit of both” (p525-526).

12:40-1:15 PM Continued reviewing Breaking the Magic Spell in prep for tonight’s LIS 7180 Storytelling for Adults and Children course.

1:15-1:35 PM Listened to a few songs on Chris Tomlin‘s “And if Our God is For Us” album in an effort to carve out some much-needed downtime. Also ate lunch. Also checked FB. hRmmm multitasking… so much for downtime.

1:35-1:37 PM Asked my colleague Heidi Hammond if she has any ideas for what we should read in preparation for our next YLIG (Youth Literature and Interest Group) meeting. We might read ChLA-award winning scholarly articles. Still brainstorming…

1:37-3:07 PM Finished (re)reading/reviewing Breaking the Magic Spell.

3:07-3:10 PM Checked email… and FB.

3:10-3:50 PM Reviewed students’ discussion posts on our PBworks page. I learn soOoOooo much from their responses to our textbooks (2 weeks ago was The Uses of Enchantment; last week was Breaking the Magic Spell).

3:50-4:50 PM Not sure what to do with myself… checked email. Reviewed some ALA (American Library Association) news. Discovered that a colleague, Dr.  Mary Wilkins Jordan (Simmons GSLIS), won a prestigious ALA grant (happy!) and that a PATRIOT ACT amendment that would have created better library patron privacy failed (sad). Printed out agenda, made copies of rubric for storytelling, worked on my grade book, ate chocolate…

5:00-5:30 PM SCU MLIS ALA Student Chapter first meeting! A good number of students – many first year – showed up to learn more about forming this new student org. Many are also interested in youth services. Exciting!

5:30-6:00 PM Checked email, FB, reviewed Dia programs and caught up with a friend in LA over googlechat.

6:00-9:10 PM Taught LIS 7180 Storytelling for Adults and Children.

9:10-9:45 PM Debriefed LIS 7180 Storytelling on my private blog. Wrote about Betsy’s guest lecture, posted comments to our PBworks site, and discussed Wind in the Willows, Marxist readings of children’s lit/film, and the depiction of mice/rats/rodents over googlechat with a friend. When I’m alone in my office late at night, I like to blast music really loud and have my googlechat on so I don’t feel *quite* so alone.

Total work hours: approximately 9 hours and 44 minutes.  Same as yesterday, but I feel like I worked more, maybe because I think I worked faster since I’m less sick. So, again, the answer to the question, “What do (recovering) professors do all day?” is, “We still work.”And I’m about to hit my 12-hour in-office limit, so away I go!

As a side note, some of my friends told me they keep a “coffin” of pens and highlighters they used up while in graduate school. I think it would be fun to start one to see just how many I use up in my work.

Again, note to self: YOU NEED TO WRITE, Dr. Sparky. Carve out time for writing and reflecting.

What Do (Sick) Professors Do All Day?

My colleague and friend Dr. Phil Nel has been posting daily entries answering the question, “What do professors do all day?” partly because people outside of academia – even those who have gone through college or university – often don’t really know how we professors spend our time. I thought I’d try it in case my students (and friends) actually read my blog and wonder too.

Note: The SCU  MLIS Program is on a night and weekend schedule, so my courses are Tuesdays and Wednesdays 6-9 PM. In order to maintain my 2011 resolution of not being in my office for more than 12 straight hours (as I often did these past 2 years…), I don’t do work or go into my office before 10 or 11 AM on teaching days.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow Day. Let’s call it a wash because it’s also a Sick Day, as were Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

9:00-10:00 AM Woke up. Still sick. Can’t breathe through my nose. Washed up and got ready for the day.

10:00-10:45 AM Made breakfast and lunch. Did my daily Bible devotional reading and then caught up on email and FB while having breakfast.

10:45-11:15 AM Chatted with my friend, Tarie Sabido, a children’s lit scholar in Manila. Her enthusiasm and cheer warm my heart on this cold day. She and I share Dunkin Donuts, The Skin Food and children’s literature fetishes. For example… Dunkin Announces

11:15-12:00 PM Post office and bank.

12:15-2:00 PM Got into the office, checked email, and prepared quiz for LIS 7530 Internet Fundamentals and Design. Revised a cupcake-themed mock-up website that my students have to re-create based on what they’ve learned in the first 6 chapters of our textbook.

2:-00-3:05 PM FACES meeting – discussed how to improve campus climate, manage conflicts, build trust, etc. with fellow faculty and staff. FACES stands for Focus on Academic and Community Environments.

3:05-5:00 PM Office hours. Usually this means I’m sitting in my office with a bucket of chocolate on my desk… waiting… well, more specifically…

  • 3:05-3:10 PM Reviewed a letter of recommendation packet that I requested from a student who requested a letter from me.
  • 3:10-3:30 PM Prepared for class
  • 3:30-3:32 PM At the advice of a friend, watched neti pot YouTube video. hRmmmm I might try this.
  • 3:32-3:45 PM Prepared for class
  • 3:45-4:00 PM Reviewed ALA Student Chapter website in preparation for meeting.
  • 4:00-4:15 PM Met with student regarding the launch of the SCU MLIS ALA Student Chapter. So excited that we’re getting this going so soon after being ALA accredited!
  • 4:15-5:00 PM (Re)read Understanding the Internet: A Glimpse Into the Building Blocks, Applications, Security and Hidden Secrets of the Web for LIS 7530. Very technical and full of jargon – glad my students are getting the big picture out of it, though.

5:00-5:30 PM Skype trial run with Dr. Betsy Hearne, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She’s giving a guest lecture in my LIS 7180 Storytelling for Adults and Children class on Wednesday evening.

5:30-6:00 PM Quick dinner @ my desk! Checked FB and email.

6:00-9:00 PM Taught LIS 7530 Internet Fundamentals and Design

  • 7:30-7:45 PM Class break. Checked email and started to (re)read”A Change of Storyteller: Folktales in Children and Books, from Arbuthnot to Sutherland” by Dr. Janice Del Negro (Library Trends 47:3, Winter 1999). It’s amazing how much you can (re)read in tiny blocks of time. This article is a must-read for anyone concerned with the study of folklore, children’s literature and storytelling.

9:00-9:30 PM Checked email and debriefed about tonight’s LIS 7530 on my personal blog/teaching journal. Doing this helps me reflect on my teaching strengths and weaknesses, as well as particular student- or course content-related issues. I also spent a few minutes preparing an itinerary for my guest teacher next week. Also read this heartbreaking article about Detroit closing half its public schools.

9:30-9:35 PM Wrote a thank you note to Dr. Andre Brock, who guest lectured in my LIS 7530 course last week on the topic of race and the internet.

9:35-10:30 PM Finished (re)reading “A Change of Storyteller.” Heading home, where I will likely keep (re)reading for my Storytelling course 🙂

Total work hours: 9 hours and 45 minutes. That’s less than the 12 hours I said was my  maximum, but more than the typical 8 a normal human is supposed to work ^^ The answer to the question, “What do (sick) professors do all day?” is, “We still work.”

Note to self: You need to write more. Publish or perish. Tenure FTW!

Social Change in Modern Korea

Yesterday was awesome on several levels: hung out with my former UCLA TA (Dr. Paul Y. Chang), guest lectured for his class *Social Change in Modern Korea* on the topic of *Transracial Korean Adoption: History, Issues & Representations*, ate 팥빙수 with my dear friend Kyunghee at 청계천 (see image header and read “about the header” on my about page), and had dinner with my cousin Banghee’s family. And then ate 팥빙수 again. Awesome, I tell you.

I gave my website address to Dr. Chang’s students, so I’m posting this entry just to say HELLO to you all! I really enjoyed chatting with you during the break and after class. For more information about transracial Korean adoption, check out the links on the left sidebar (under Adoptee Organizations and Adoptees Speak) or feel free to email me (spark@stkate.edu) with questions.  Study hard and good luck on your finals! ^^