I must complete a booklist (minimum length 900 words) that demonstrates your ability to select a total of fifty quality children’s books that fit the following five genres: Realistic, Fantasy, Traditional, Poetry, and Non-Fiction. Do not go over the fifty book limit, ten books for each genre. You will not earn any extra points for listing more books. You must show the ability to choose books thoughtfully and carefully. Your goal should be to select what you think are the best ten books for children in terms of literary quality (grades K-8) in each genre. Keep in mind that this assignment is testing what you have learned throughout the semester. Your effort, detail, and thought must prove you deserve college credit for the course. The books you choose will show whether or not you truly have learned how to judge or evaluate the literary quality of books in each genre.
You should plan to spend at least a few hours a week on this project, particularly since it requires that you visit a local library or bookstore that has a children's literature collection. You may ask a librarian or store clerk for assistance in locating quality books for the list. You might start by looking up books that have won literary awards. Newberry Medal (best youth fiction) or Newberry Honor (finalist, best youth fiction) and Caldecott Medal (best picture book) or Caldecott Honor (finalist, best picture book) winners are usually given their own display in most bookstores and libraries. You might also look for books that have won the Corretta Scott King Award (best book on a Civil Rights subject) or National Book Award for Young People's Literature. The New York Times Book Review of Children's Books and Horn Book Magazine are two publications that give good recommendations for newly published children's books. Click the following for links to these and other resources to assist with the booklist assignment: Children's Literature Online Resources
My hope is that this project will make you aware of quality children's books that you may not have known before and to appreciate the wide variety, range, and topics that these books cover.
DO NOT use any of the following kinds of books: books written by celebrities (i.e., Madonna, Katie Couric, Jamie Lee Curtis), books based on comic books, cartoons, toys, athletes, or celebrity personalities (i.e., Dora, Sesame Street, the Olson twins, High School Musical, Michael Jordan, Barbie, Bob the Builder, Franklin, Berenstein Bears, Clifford, Magic School Bus, etc.), books that are part of a formulaic series (i.e., Junie B. Jones, Animorphs, Goosebumps, Nancy Drew, American Girl), books that are for children under Kindergarten (i.e., board books, Little Critters, counting books, numbers books, shapes books), and activity books (i.e., coloring books, pop-up books, push-button books, I Spy books, etc.). Do not use the same author twice, even for different genres.
With your definition of each genre, keep in mind that I will be looking for how well you are able to evaluate a good quality book versus a poor one in the genre. In other words, do not just list traits that fit the genre; you must show why the books in your list are examples of the best in the genre. Do not just say the obvious. You must do more than just to say that a fantasy book has events that could not happen in real life. That is too simple. Consider how well the book uses fantasy elements to develop critical thinking, literacy, personal growth. For instance, the Harry Potter books are obviously fantasy but what makes J.K. Rowling's books such excellent representatives of the genre are how the magical elements are used to convey deeper issues such as racism and integrity. Review the "Evaluation Criteria" sections in chapters 6 - 12 of Donna E. Norton's Through the Eyes of a Child carefully to insure you understand how to evaluate quality children's books in each respective genre prior to beginning the booklist project.
The five major genres that I want on the booklist are as follows (Do not simply repeat my brief definitions below on your own assignment!):
Traditional (includes myths, folktales, legends, epics, proverbs, Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes--basically stories that have been passed down orally with no known original author)
Fantasy (includes fractured fairy tales, science fiction, modern fantasy or magic--generally books that create an imaginary world to explore complex themes, sometimes themes that may be too controversial or censored if written about realistically. These stories are clearly written by a known author and usually involve the historical and/or social circumstances when the book was published.)
Realism (includes mystery or detective fiction, historical fiction, action/adventure fiction, naturalism--stories about life in the wild or at sea, etc.)
Poetry (includes modern rhymes--not to be confused with traditional nursery rhymes, nonsense limericks--like those by Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, songs and ballads, narrative poetry, free verse--generally books with cadence or rhythm that plays with the musical nature of language. Keep in mind that not all poetry has to rhyme. In fact, some of the best poetry does not rhyme. Margaret Wise Brown, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and Jack Prelutsky are examples of authors of good quality children's poetry. For your Booklist, I prefer that you do NOT use Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein as books by these two authors are overly marketed and overly used. I prefer you investigate what other good poetry books for children are available.)
Non-fiction/Informational Books (includes activity books, concept books--alphabet, shapes, colors, numbers, math, science, biographies, memoirs, "Eyewitness" books, encyclopdias, dictionaries, how-to books--generally books about facts. The better non-fiction books incorporate literary elements of plot and character and may even use aspects of the other genres like detective fiction or poetry.)
Format for writing the Booklist:
1) Beneath the name of each genre, in at least 250 words, explain what the genre categorizes and use at least three of the books you think fit the genre to help prove you understand the major elements and issues with the genre that are explained by the textbook; be sure to use good detail and clear explanations. In other words, a) write the definition of the genre in your own words using the information provided in the textbook without merely copying, repeating, or paraphrasing it, b) prove you understand the genre by applying the criteria for evaluating a quality (good vs. poor) book in genre from the textbook to at least one of the examples that you discuss in your definition. Your examples must come from the list of the ten books that you provide under the genre category.
2) For each of the following genres: Realistic, Fantasy, Traditional, Poetry, and Non-Fiction. (See handout on genres), you must identify what you think are ten of the best quality books for a total of 50 books. Under each genre category, you must provide books according to the following age groups:
Provide five quality books for younger children in the following order: 1 picture book for kindergarten, 1 picture book for 1st graders, 1 picture book or chapter book for 2nd graders, and 2 chapter books for 3rd graders.
Provide five books for older children (grades 4-8) in the following order: 1 chapter book of moderate difficulty for 4th and 5th graders, 1 chapter book for advanced readers for 4th and 5th graders, 1 chapter book of moderate difficulty for 6th and 7th graders, 1 chapter book for gifted readers for 6th and 7th graders, and 1 book of either moderate or advanced difficulty for 8th graders.
3) The booklist should be typed in 12 point Times New Roman font single-spaced with the bibliographic information in the following format: Title, Author, Illustrator, Publisher, Date of Publication. Place a star (*) next to any book mentioned in class. Also, note in parenthesis if the book has won any awards.
Example of required format:
Name of Genre: Realistic Fiction
Definition: Realistic fiction tries to reflect or approach real life situations and problems and will not incorporate any fantastic or otherworldly elements. As fiction, the story probably did not really happen, but the possibility that it could exists; in other words, the story is believable and requires little stretching of the imagination to accept the plausibility of the actions and events in the story. Much realistic fiction, especially published for mass audiences, is formulaic and as such can be of poor quality requiring little thought beyond common sense and superficial thought. Formulaic realistic fiction uses conventional roles and characters that rarely stray from their stereotypical traits. Formulaic types of stories include mysteries, romantic stories, and series books. The American Girl series fits this formulaic sub-category. Rarely do the girls in these stories exceed stereotypical societal expectations and the few occasions that they may, the girls are quickly brought back into the fold of the dominant social order that the stories promote, which is ultimately saccharine, avoiding the complexities of real life that quality literature can help readers appreciate and understand better. In addition to distinguishing between formulaic and creative realistic fiction, several sub-categories help differentiate books in this genre: animal realism, historical realism, and sports stories. Animal realism means that the animals do not take on any human characteristics like talking or having internal dialogue or thoughts. Jack London’s Call of the Wild, for instance, treats wolves and dogs as they are in their natural habitat and does not give these animals any human traits of speech or intellectual reflection. The advantage of presenting animals in their natural behavior and environments allows reflection on how humans treat the natural world or creatures that are not as "developed" as they. For London, the environment of the wolves helps contrast the barbarity of humans with the animal world in showing how the latter may have much to teach the former about being "civilized." This is especially important in children's literature given the developmental theme.
Younger (Grades K-3)
1. Peter’s Chair. Ezra Jack Keats. Same. Harper. 1967. (Kindergarten)
2. Amazing Grace
. Mary Hoffman. Caroline Binch. Lincoln Frances. 2002. (First Grade)
3. etc. (Second Grade)
4. etc. (Third Grade)
5. etc. (Third Grade advanced)
Older (Grades 4-8)
1. The Tiger Rising. Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick. 2002. (Newberry Honor Book) (Fourth Grade)
2. Maniac Magee. Jerry Spinelli. Scholastic. 2002
(Newberry Medal) (Fifth Grade)
3. Bud, Not Buddy. Christopher Paul Curtis. Laurel Leaf. 2004.
(Newberry Medal) (Sixth Grade)
4. Call of the Wild. Jack London. Prestwick Press. 2005 (Seventh Grade)*
5. etc. (Eighth Grade)
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