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ENGLISH 3Y03 Children's Literature (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Iris Bruce


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 502

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24697

Office Hours: Wednesday 4:30-5:20 and Friday 5:30-6:20; or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Description:

The course will critically evaluate literary works written primarily for children from the 19th century to the present. We will examine literary, social, and cultural constructions of the “child” and “childhood” in children’s literature from different periods and cultures. Placing these texts within their cultural/historical contexts and genres, we will pay attention to the value systems that are passed on to young readers. Does this literature encourage children to explore their talents, to think critically about the world and the role they play in it? What standards of morality do they learn from this literature? Will it make them want to remain safe in their limited, protected cultural sphere or will it open them up to the world (in terms of taking an interest in social, political and global issues, war, gender equality, religion, domestic and other kinds of violence). Does it instill in these young readers a desire for education and culture, and will it make them seek out an intellectual life as they grow up? We will also investigate the market value of children’s literature, as well as the role of social institutions, hierarchies, and power relations that determine the socialization of children in our modern world.

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course students will have learned about the ideological implications of children’s literature. They will critically explore how “innocent” the image of the child, of childhood and-- by extension-- children’s literature really is and pay attention to the role the mass media play to make books sell.  

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Texts:
These are available at Titles, the university bookstore.

Reynolds, Kimberley. Children’s Literature. A Very Short Introduction

Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan 1911

Baum, L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz 1900

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 1865

Collodi, Carlo. Pinocchio 1883

Ende, Michael. Momo 1973

Frank, Anne. Diary of a Young Girl 1942-44; 1947

Kästner, Erich. Emil and the Detectives 1929

Lindgren, Astrid. Karlson on the Roof 1955

Richler, M. Jacob Two Two 1975

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 1997

Salten, Felix. The City Jungle 1931

White, E. B. Charlotte’s Web 1952

 Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief 2005

Films (or excerpts) will include Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, Emil and the Detectives, Jacob Two Two, Charlotte’s Web, Anne Frank, The Book Thief.             .


Method of Assessment:

Assignments and Evaluations: (Due Dates)

Multiple Choice Test: 20% (February 14, 2020)

Essay:                  30% (2000 words, due March 17, 2020)

Final Exam:          50% (scheduled by Registrar’s Office)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Written Work and Late Submissions:

Late work will be penalized: there will be a reduction of 3% per day on essays handed in late without permission, and they will receive no extensive commentary.  

Late Assignment Policy:

All essays are due either in class or electronically by the end of the day on the assigned date. 


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


The discussion of certain texts may flow over to the following class.

January   7:  Classes begin; introduction

January  8:  Carrol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

January 10:  Alice in Wonderland 

January 14:  Alice in Wonderland 

January 15:  Alice in Wonderland 

January 17:  Collodi, Pinocchio (1883)

January 21:  Collodi, Pinocchio

January 22:  Barrie, Peter Pan (1911)

January 24:  Barrie, Peter Pan     

January 28: Barrie, Peter Pan

January 29: Baum, The Wizard of Oz (1900)

January 31:  Baum, The Wizard of Oz

February  4Baum,  The Wizard of Oz

February  5:  Baum, The Wizard of Oz

February  7:  Salten, The City Jungle (1931)

February 11: Salten, The City Jungle

February 12:  Salten, The City Jungle

February 14:  Quiz: Multiple Choice

February 18/19/21:  NO Class; Mid-Term Recess

February 25:  Kästner, Emil and the Detectives (1929)

February 26:  Emil and the Detectives (1931 film version)

February 28:  Emil and the Detectives 

March   3:  Frank, Anne. Diary of a Young Girl (1942-44)

March   4:  Frank, Anne. Diary of a Young Girl

March   6:   film: The Book Thief (2013)

March  10:  film: The Book Thief

March  11:  discussion of the novel, The Book Thief (2005)

March 13:  Lindgren, Karlson on the Roof (1955)

March  17:  White, Charlotte’s Web (1952);  ESSAY DUE

March  18:  White, Charlotte’s Web

March  20:  Richler, Jacob Two Two (1975)

March  24:  Richler, Jacob Two Two

March 25:  Jacob Two Two film excerpts

March 27:  Ende, Momo (1973)

March 31:  Ende, Momo

April     1: Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)

April     3: Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone


April 13 - April 28, 2020: FINAL EXAM PERIOD