Contemporary Children’s Literature in Education Courses:

Diverse, Complex, and Critical

While research has established the importance of children’s literature in classrooms, the inclusion of children’s literature courses in teacher preparation programs increasingly faces resistance. A team of children’s literature and literacy education scholars conducted a national survey of children’s literature courses in P-8 teacher certification programs to better understand the role these courses currently serve. Survey questions centered on course types, formats, descriptions, goals/objectives, readings, and assignments. Initial analysis focused on a comparison of undergraduate and dual-degree programs, and further analysis of a subset of undergraduate courses involved cross-data comparison between course descriptions, course objectives/goals, and course assignment descriptions.

Cross-program analyses largely revealed many commonalities between undergraduate and dual-degree programs. In-depth cross-data comparison resulted in two key findings: (1) significant attention to diversity in courses, and (2) striking complexity and volume of assignments requiring students to understand, analyze, and integrate quality children’s literature into classrooms. Overall, the survey results offer a compelling argument for the centrality of children’s literature courses, particularly those that focus on cultural diversity, in teacher education programs.