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Children's literature

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This course provides a broad introduction to the vibrant and growing field of children’s literature studies. You will study children’s literature in English ranging from its beginnings in eighteenth-century chapbooks and fairy tales, through seminal nineteenth-century novels, to contemporary examples of fiction illustrating current trends. The course also includes the study of picture books old and new, stage performance and film, young adult fiction, storytelling and poetry. You will learn about the distinctiveness and purposes of children’s literature, its prestigious and popular modes and its different representations of children’s worlds.

Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

The study of children’s literature is fast becoming established at both undergraduate and graduate level with its own academic journals and critical literature, and collections of children’s literature are held in many major libraries and museums. In addition, the success of authors such as J. K. Rowling or Philip Pullman suggests that children’s literature is thriving and developing in the twenty-first century. In short, children’s literature matters; it is significant to parents, educators, librarians, psychologists, childhood studies students and students of literature and – most importantly – to children themselves.

In this course, you will study key examples of novels, picture books, poems and creative performance produced for children aged from 3–18 years old. These examples are drawn from different periods of Anglophone children’s literature. Alongside the study of these texts and performances, you will read a selection of related critical material and consider major themes, issues and debates in the field. These include the relationship of children's literature to the conceptions of childhood, the question of whether children’s literature should instruct or delight, the tension between popular and prestigious literature for children, and the relationship between oral, written and visual modes.

The course is organised in six blocks.

Block 1: Instruction or Delight? gives an overview of the field and raises questions about the nature and purposes of children’s literature, focusing on some contemporary best-sellers and the reasons for their importance. It also traces how fairy stories have changed over the years, in response to different anxieties and concerns.

Block 2: Books for Girls and Books for Boys looks at how children and young people’s worlds are constructed differently in two seminal nineteenth-century novels, and examines fictional techniques used to present ideologies in children’s literature.

Block 3: Poetry and Performance introduces a selection of poetry used and performed with children, from early nineteenth-century classics to examples from the present day. You will consider a variety of narrative performance in storytelling, on stage and in film, and explore debates about how childhood is represented to child and adult audiences. 

Block 4: The Prestigious and the Popular: 20th Century Children’s Fiction includes the study of a number of twentieth-century children’s classics, a sampling of the world of children’s comics and a consideration of the controversies around popular authors. The block raises questions about the quality and value of different kinds of literature for children, and the ways in which it is judged.

Block 5: Words and Pictures focuses on the use of images in children’s books – from traditional illustrated books, which grew in popularity through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to more modern picturebooks, where the images are so central to the story that they often take on a narrative role.

Block 6: Contemporary Trends explores recent examples of different kinds of contemporary children’s fiction, considering changes and continuities in the mood and tone of children’s literature, the media mix from print to electronic in which literature is experienced and the markets through which it is distributed and consumed.

Audiovisual material relating to each of the six blocks is presented through two DVDs. This material includes theatre and storytelling performances, interviews with children, authors and publishers, mini-lectures and discussions. In addition, a DVD-ROM provides introductory activities on literary, stylistic and multimodal analysis of children’s literature, to support your work on the set texts.

Vocational relevance

The course is particularly relevant for teachers and children’s librarians.

Entry

This is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.

Children’s literature is an interdisciplinary course primarily designed for students who have studied English, literature or childhood studies at Level 2. Worlds of English (U214) (or the discontinued U211), Reading and studying literature (A230), and Childhood (E212) are all excellent preparation for this course. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

It will be to your advantage to read some of the set texts before starting on the course.

If you have not previously studied a Level 2 literature, childhood studies or English language course you may find it helpful to work through some or all of the Reading and studying literature (A230) and Exploring the English Language (U211) modules on our OpenLearn website.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

Block 5 examines the role of images in children’s literature and students are expected to carry out visual analysis of illustrated books and picturebooks. Assessment of this block will be based on the visual material and although there will be an option which allows you to discuss these issues more broadly, some understanding of visual qualities will be expected. The course team do think that it is possible for a blind or visually impaired student to complete the course, but if you have a severe visual impairment you are encouraged to contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service for advice before registering.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Study guide, two readers, course guide, two DVDs, one DVD-ROM, play text of Peter Pan. Additional study materials will be accessible from the website.

You will need

A DVD player.

We recommend you buy the editions of the set books listed below as the study materials make reference to page numbers in these books. If you choose to obtain different editions, take care to ensure that you have the full version of Little Women including the second part, Good Wives, as some shorter editions only include the first part.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Ransome, A Swallows and Amazons, Red Fox £7.99 - ISBN 9780099427339
  • Gavin, J **Coram Boy, Egmont £8.99 - ISBN 9781405212823
  • McGough, R (ed) 100 Best Poems for Children, Puffin £10.99 - ISBN 9780141310589
  • Naidoo, B The Other Side of Truth, Puffin £6.99 - ISBN 9780141304762
  • Pearce, P Tom's Midnight Garden, Oxford University Press £6.99 - ISBN 9780192792426
  • Pullman, P *Northern Lights, Scholastic £6.99 - ISBN 9781407130224
  • Burgess, M Junk, Puffin/Penguin £7.99 - ISBN 9780140380194
  • Reeve, P **Mortal Engines, Marion Lloyd Books £6.99 - ISBN 9781407131276
  • Stevenson, R L Treasure Island, Oxford World's Classics £5.99 - ISBN 9780199560356
  • Rowling, J K *Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Bloomsbury £6.99 - ISBN 9780747558194
  • Potter, B The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Frederick Warne Publishers £5.99 - ISBN 9780723247708
  • Browne, A Voices in the Park, Corgi £5.99 - ISBN 9780552545648
  • Alcott, L M Little Women, Oxford World's Classics £7.99 - ISBN 9780199538119 (This edition includes Good Wives)
  • Taylor, M Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, Puffin £7.99 - ISBN 9780141333342

Other materials

  • Peter Pan DVD (2003, Jason Isaacs, Lynn Redgrave, Jeremy Sumpter), £19.99 (This DVD is available from high street retailers or internet retailers by searching on www.find-dvd.co.uk.)

*Students only need to buy one of these books depending on personal preference. ** Students only need to buy one of these books depending on personal preference. We recommend you buy the editions of the set books listed as the study materials make reference to page numbers in these books. With the exception of the two picturebooks, however, it is possible to work from other editions, including Kindle versions, if you have them already. If you do so, take care to ensure that you have the full version of Little Women including the second part, Good Wives, as some shorter editions only include the first part.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and who you can ask for advice and guidance. You will have access to an online tutorial group forum. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course.  

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online through the eTMA system.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code EA300
Credits 60
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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