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Teaching Tips and Ideas

On this page, you will find resources and ideas that you may find useful in your teaching


Free Subscription to Notes from the Horn Book newsletter

Posted on November 1, 2012 by Karen Coats


Horn Book publishes a free online newsletter and is now implementing one specifically devoted to nonfiction.

Here is the link: Notes From the Horn Book

This is a great resource for both you and your students, so that they can keep up with new books.

Online Resources for Children’s Literature

Posted on September 25, 2012 by Karen Coats

Thanks to Sarah Lushia for sending us this link to a treasure trove of online resources of children’s literature:

MVCC Library Research Guides

Teaching Picturebooks?

Posted on August 23, 2012 by Karen Coats

Here are some great websites: Teach With Picture Books Blog

This site offers a great glossary, as well as descriptions and examples of artistic techniques and media. It also tons of links to author/illustration sites. I also quite enjoyed the manifesto.

Notes for the Analysis of a Picture Book

Visual Interpretive Analysis of Children's Picture Book Illustration

These two sites were created by Kay Vandergrift at Rutgers. Her resources are fabulous.


Online Children’s Literature Archive

Posted on July 30, 2012 by Karen Coats

Here is the link to an archive of over 3000 out of print children’s books that might be useful for your research and teaching: Internet Archive: Children's Library

It also includes links to other online resources such as the International Children’s Digital Library and the Baldwin’s Digital Collections.

In memory of Sendak: How he matters in our classes

Posted on May 10, 2012 by Karen Coats

Many of us teach works by Maurice Sendak in our classes, while still others find that his influence is felt in other ways. Here are a few ideas and testimonies to the importance of his work in our teaching…

“Although I don’t typically assign Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are for reading, this book always comes up in my Foundations in Literature for Children class. Almost all of my students read this timeless text when they were children and their recall – years later – of textual elements is remarkably detailed. I make use of that recall by engaging them with discussion uncovering the book’s rich psychological layers during one part of the semester, and using several of its illustrations for Molly Bang-style picture analysis at another time.”

–Rebecca Anderson

"I’ll never forget the day I first studied Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are in a college class– it was one of my first and most meaningful experiences with analyzing literature at the university level. Now, Sendak’s story continues to act as a cornerstone in my own teaching of picture books and the subtle complexity of children’s texts. Where the Wild Things Are isn’t just foundational, but also helps students to see that the magic of children’s literature doesn’t just exist in Max’s imagination… it can also be found when we look to picture books as more than mere stories, but master works of artistry and meaning." —Meghann Meeusen

"I pair Where the Wild Things Are with Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls. There are visual references to WTWTA in Wolves in the pictures that Lucy draws and tapes to her wall on the way up the stairs (as Max does), so there is a thematic similarity of children drawing their own “wild things,” which then come to life. We spend some time discussing what that means, and also the positioning of the wild things—their pictures are posted on the stairwell, which is usually a transitional space from the public to the private parts of a house. Then we draw out the contrasts between the two books—Max goes to where his wild things are, whereas Lucy’s wild things invade her living space and disrupt her family. As an ideological symbolization of emotional trauma, this marks what may be read as a cultural shift: whereas Max is confined and has to deal with his anger alone in the privacy of his own head, Lucy’s inner “wild things” spill out and threaten the family’s well-being, and her entire family has to respond. We discuss what that might mean in terms of contemporary attitudes toward childhood emotion, parenting, and gender. Finally we talk about recurrence. For Lucy, the recurrence is humorous, with elephants threatening instead of wolves (hmmmm, first Lucy’s anger, then perhaps a symbol for emergent body image issues as she grows older), while for Sendak, the recurrence is implied in the verb tense—where the wild things are, not where they were." –Karen Coats