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Children's Literature, Briefly

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This is the 5th edition with a publication date of 3/1/2011.
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Are you looking for a brief introduction to childrenrs"s literature genres that leaves time to actually read childrenrs"s books? This new edition ofChildrenrs"s Literature, Brieflyintroduces the reader to the essentialsof each genre, supported by criteria to make good judgments about books and activities to advance literacy in the classroom. Part 1 provides foundational information on literature, Part 2 addresses each genre individually, and Part 3 covers the classroom information that makes literature an integral part of teaching. As new teachers build their classroom library, the brevity of this affordable new edition ensures readers have the resources to purchase and time to read actual childrenrs"s literature.

Author Biography

Michael O. Tunnell teaches children's literature at Brigham Young University.  He has published several professional books, including Children’s Literature, Briefly (with Jim Jacobs) and The Story of Ourselves:  Teaching History Through Children’s Literature (with Richard Ammon)–as well as a variety of journal articles about children’s books and reading.  He also writes for young readers.  Some of his titles include The Children of Topaz (Holiday House, 1996), Mailing May (Greenwillow, 1997), Wishing Moon (Dutton, 2004), and Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” (Charlesbridge, 2010).


James S. Jacobs began his career happily teaching English, all grades 7-12 and next at a junior college where he surprisingly, and unhappily, was assigned to teach a children¹s literature course. Discovering a new love and life path, he returned to graduate school for a degree in children¹s literature and has since taught it at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He interrupted his university life to gain experience in an elementary classroom, teaching fourth grade for two years at a U.S. Army school in Germany.  He has produced enough academic writing, specializing in Lloyd Alexander, to keep his job plus one picture book for children.


Terrell A. Young teaches courses in children’s literature and reading at Washington State University and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association. He has served on numerous book award committees. Terry has published many articles and books about reading and children’s literature. His most recent books are Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading (with Barbara Moss) and Matching Books and Readers: Helping English Learners in Grades K-6 (with Nancy Hadaway). He was the 2006 recipient of the International Reading Association Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award.


Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada). His duties include teaching children’s literature and early and middle years literacy courses. Greg’s research interests revolve around notions of reading engagement. In 2009, he completed his PhD from the University of British Columbia, having previously completed his undergraduate and Master's degrees at Brigham Young University in Utah. Greg was born and raised in Australia and returns home as often as possible.

Table of Contents


part one: The Magic of Books


Chapter one: Why Read?   

The Rewards of Reading    

Unengaged and Engaged Reading    

Why Do So Few People Read?    

Reading Is Personally Motivating    

Engaged and Unengaged Reading    


Chapter two: What Is a Good Book?   

Choosing Children’s Books   

Judging a Book: Literary Quality Versus Personal Taste    




Chapter three: How to Recognize a Well-Written Book    

Choosing the Right Words    

Precise Vocabulary    

Figurative Language    


Music in Language    


Unexpected Insights    

Elements of Weak Writing   


Chapter four: How to Recognize a Well-Illustrated Book    

Visual Literacy: Developing the Ability to “See”    

Functions of Illustrations in Picture Books    

Style and Media in Picture Book Illustrations    

Visual Elements    

Additional Illustration Criteria: Action and Detail    

Depicting Action    

Creating Depth with Detail    

Care Given to Bookmaking    


part two: The Books Themselves

Chapter five: Children’s Books: History and Trends    

Early Books for Children    

Children’s Books Come of Age    

The 1800s    



New Realism    

Minority Books    

The Changing Trends in Genres and Formats of Children’s Books    

A Changing Marketplace   

The 21st Century    


Chapter six: Organizing Children’s Literature by Genre    

The Genres  

The Book Lists   


Chapter seven: Picture Books   

Categories of Picture Books    

ABC Books    

Counting Books    

Concept Books   

Participation Books    

Wordless Picture Books    

Predictable Books   

Beginning Reader Picture Books    

Picture Storybooks    

Engineered Books    

Baby/Board Books    

Picture Books Available in Audiovisual Formats    


Chapter eight: Poetry    

Why Children May Learn to Dislike Poetry    

Building Appreciation for Poetry    

The NCTE Poetry Award   

Forms of Poetry    

Building a Poetry Collection   


Chapter nine: Traditional Fantasy    

Traditional Fantasy: A Part of Every Culture    

Peculiarities of Traditional Fantasy    

The Universal Nature of Traditional Fantasy    

The Values of Fantasy    

Types of Traditional Fantasy    

In Defense of Traditional Fantasy    

Psychological Fantasy    


Frightening for Young Children    

Waste of Time    


Chapter ten: Modern Fantasy    

A Definition of Modern Fantasy    

Categories of Modern Fantasy    

Six Basic Fantasy Motifs    

Science Fiction    

The Truth in Fantasy    


Chapter eleven: Contemporary Realistic Fiction    

Importance of Story    

Identifying with Contemporary Realistic Fiction    

Contemporary Realistic Fiction and Society    

Common Categories of Contemporary Realistic Fiction    


Chapter twelve: Historical Fiction    

History Textbooks Versus History Trade Books    

History Textbooks Cover Too Much    

The People Are Missing!    

Historical Fiction: Presenting Multiple Perspectives    

What Makes Good Historical Fiction?   

History Should Not Be Sugarcoated    

Historical Accuracy Is Required    

The Historical Period Should Come to Life    

The History Usually Is Revealed through the Eyes of a Young Protagonist    

Avoid Too Much Attention to Historical Detail    

Types of Historical Fiction   

Reviewing the Values of Historical Fiction    


Chapter Thirteen: Biography   

Typical Personalities in Biographies    

Types of Biographies    

Judging Biographies for Young Readers    

Chapter Fourteen: Informational Books    

The Purpose of Informational Books    

Finding Good Informational Books    

Attractive Design    

Compelling Details    

Fascinating Comparisons    

Unusual Subjects or Viewpoints    

Personalized Content    


Types of Informational Books    


Chapter Fifteen: Multicultural and International Books   

Multicultural Literature    

The Need for Multicultural Books    

Judging Multicultural Literature    

The Growth of Multicultural Literature    

International Books    


part three: Books in the Classroom

Chapter Sixteen: Controversial Books    

The First Amendment    

Predictable and Unpredictable Controversy    

Intellectual Freedom and Individual Choice    

Handling Book Challenges    

Materials Selection Policy    

Grievance Procedure    

Steps to Reduce Emotional Tension    


Chapter Seventeen: Motivating Students to Read    

Helping Students Find the Books They Like    

Learning from Motivated Readers    

Getting Students Quickly into Books    

Reading Incentive Programs    

Organizing the Classroom to Get Children into Books    

First: Set an Example   

Second: Provide Books   

Third: Make Time for Books   

Fourth: Create a Reading Atmosphere    

Fifth: Work with Parents    

Sixth: Choose Meaningful Activities and Assignments    


Chapter Eighteen: Teaching with Children’s Books    

Opening Doors with Books    

The Strengths of Trade Books    

Research Support for Using Trade Books to Teach Reading    

Using Trade Books in the Reading Curriculum    

Talking about Books    

Written and Creative Responses    

Using Trade Books in the Other Subject Areas    

The Individual Reading Approach    

The Large-Group Reading Approach    

The Small-Group Reading Approach    

Three Principles of Using Trade Books to Teach Subject Matter    

The Last Word    


Appendix A    

Guidelines for Building a Classroom Library  


Appendix B

Book Selection Aids  


Appendix C

Magazines for Children    


Appendix d

Children’s Book Awards    


Appendix E       

Publishing Children’s Books   




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