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    ENG 272: Literature for the Middle Grades

    Syllabus for FALL 2019 ENG 272.1

    Research links

    click here for link of Caldecott Medal winners at the American Library Association website

    NCTE statement on prepping teachers for teaching children's & YA literature

    Research & Writing Resources for Children's Literature.  A list I've compiled that will help you on your research papers.  Includes links to online resources, journals and more, plus a list of books, and the MLA Guide in .pdf form.

    Resources in children's literature research for college students, teachers, librarians & academics

    If you are struggling to write a literary analysis paper, read "How to Write a Research Paper in Literature" by Geoff Baker at Chico State University (.pdf format)

    More Research & Writing Resources on Children's Literature from my website 

    Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

    Mark Twain in His Times:  Great site from Univ of Virginia.  Click through to comprehensive material about Tom Sawyer, with e-texts of material leading up to the novel, original reviews, illustrations, & info on Hannibal. Listen here to excerpts of actors who carefully recreate Clemmon's amazing storytelling style.

    Mark Twain website by PBS and Ken Burns.

    Mark Twain at Play: an online exhibit from the Univ of California-Berkley's Mark Twain Papers library.  Check out what made him laugh, what he did to relax, and look at his original writings. 

    "Mark Twain: Our original superstar" an essay in Time magazine by humor writer Roy Blount, Jr. (July 3, 2008)

    Search quotations from Mark Twain:

    This is Mark Twain, site created by University of California Press and the Bancroft Library. Feature 2 interactive timelines

    sign in front of Becky's home in Hannibal, MOTwain's home in Hannibal, MO


    Twain working at his Quarry Farm

    A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Clips from A Little Princess (1995) and other film versions on YouTube

    Who are today's princesses?
    Disney Brides:  General information about Disney brides for a Fairy Tale Wedding.  Disney bride dresses.  Video commercial for Disney brides.

    Paris Hilton, a lavish consumer princess 
    Images of contemporary princess: Paris Hilton, heir to a fortune; Princess Diana; Meghan Markle; Disney's princess characters that have been marketed together wrapped in pink branding.
    Images of A Little Princess
    Above images, from left to right. 1995 film, 1986 television show, 1939 film with Shirley Temple.
    Above images: Tasha Tudor's cover. 1917 version with Mary Pickford, Little Princess Sara (1985 Japanese anime),


    Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

    Teaching ideas for Ella Enchanted and Cinderella

    The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

    Videos of Perseus/Percy Jackson

    Videos of Rick Riordan

    Lincoln: A Photobiography  by Russell Freedman

  • From Ken Burns' PBS Series The Civil War, section on The Gettysburg Address
  • Russell Freedman about the Library of Congress' 2001 Book Fest.  A video of him reading from Lincoln book
  • 2018 obituary for Russell Freedman in the New York Times
  • Lincoln Bicentennial celebration in Illinois (1809-2009)

    Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

    Pullman Porter on the jobYouTube Videos

    Information related to the book

    Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

    Related YouTube videos

    Surviving the Dust Bowl, a PBS series. Website has related photos, articles and short videos.

    Riding the Rails, a PBS series about the more than a quarter million teenagers were living on the road in America.  Website has interviews, articles, teachers' resources.One of Dorthea Lange's iconic WPA photos of migrant mother & children in California 1936.

    Visions in the Dust: Lesson Plans for teaching about the Great Depression, including using Out of the Dust.

    American Memory: From the Great Depression to World War II.  Library of Congress site of the photographs from the Farm Security Administration to the Office of War, showing Americans at home, work and play.

    Voices from the Dust Bowl. The American Folklife Center, Library of Congress online presentation documenting migrant farm workers in California in 1940 and 1941.

    Carol Hurst's teaching guide for Out of the Dust 

    Woody Guthrie, official website.  1945 video of Guthrie singingYouTube. 

    Children of day laborers in Oklahoma. None of the kids had attended school. 1939. WPA photo by Russell Lee.

    Child in Yakima Valley, Wash., working hard. 1939 FSA photo by Dorthea Lange.



    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

    "Unapologetically Harriet, the Misfit Spy" an NPR story by Neva Grant on March 3, 2008.Louise Fitzhugh

    A Walking Tour of Harriet's neighborhood a Google map of New York & Harriet's neighborhood.  This Flickr site also has recent photos of Harriet's New York neighborhood.

    Wake County, North Carolina, Library A 7-page document for kids reading and thinking about Harriet the Spy, includes questions and list of similar books. Fans may like Harriet Spies Again, a 2002 continuation published by Random House.

    Harriet the Spy -- 1996 movie, by Nickelodeon, featuring Rosie O'Donnell and Michelle Trachtenberg. Link to imdb page.

    "I can see why this book is a classic, though. It is honest, frank, and kept me turning the pages. But I don't know many kids who would actually write such mean things down. Maybe it was a product of how she was raised . . . Hmm." -- from review on Ink Splot 26 by Ratha, STACKS reviewer

    Chasing Vermeer  by Blue Balliett

    Blue Balliett informationA Lady Writing by Vermeer

    Art related information

    Pentominoes links

    Charles Hoy Fort links

    Click on images to take you to larger images and more information about the artwork.

    The Geographer by Vermeer

    A Lady Writing by Vermeer as it looks hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

    The Lacemaker by Vermeer







      Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer

    The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe) [1929] by Rene MagritteAlexander Calder with Cirque Calder (1926-31). Photo by Andre Kretesz

    Calder mobiles in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C

    Hyde Park, on the block of Powell's BookstoreRobie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Located in Hyde Park, Chicago. inside Art Instituteoutside the Hyde Park Powell's Bookstore

    front of Art Institute of Chicagoinside the Hyde Park Powell's Bookstore, in the children's section

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid  by Jeff Kinney


    Official website of Diary of a Wimpy Kid 

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid website. site begin here with FAQs 

    Clips from the 2010 film Diary of a Wimpy Kid on YouTube:

    A Fourth Grade play of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  short and cute. 

    Jeff Kinney

    Jeff Kinney interviewed Oct. 22, 2009 on NPR.  He answers kids' questions.

    Washington Post article on how Jeff Kinney wrote and published the Wimpy Kid series. (March 3, 2009)

    YouTube interview of Jeff Kinney from Barnes & Noble.  YouTube interview with Jeff Kinney on first two books at Borders.

    Trailer for the Dairy of a Wimpy Kid film (2010).  YouTube. :30 TV promo on YouTube

    Jeff Kinney at a Borders pulling out books that he likes and talking about them, including Scott McCloud's book on comics. 3:30 min on YouTube

    Jeff Kinney at the 2009 National Book Festival/Library of Congress.  YouTube 20: min

    The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick


    Brian Selznick's site for The Invention of Hugo Cabret

    Four color biography of Brian Selznick in .pdf format

    Hugo film released in November 2011

     Al Roker chose this for a summer reading club book

    LA Times article oThe Invention of Hugo Cabret


    George Melies and early cinema

    Still from George Melies. A Trip to the Moon. 1902

    Video of The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Brian Selznick.

    From an email from Melody (Aronson) Debonnel

    Dear Dr. Susina,

    I had to share with you this wonderful treat I got yesterday. As  you Brian Selznick and Melody (Aronson) Debonnel at a bookstore in Parismay remember, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" is one of my favorite books, thanks to your graphic novel course. Well, I was going for a walk the other day, and just a couple blocks from my apartment is this lovely children's bookstore, and they had a large display in the window announcing that Selznick would be signing books. As it turns out, not only was he there, but they had another special treat for fans. Once we were seated, they dimmed the lights, and set up a projector that displayed the beautiful images from the text, one after the other, to make it feel like a real movie. When they got to a part with text, actor Nicolas Moreau (using a booklight so the lights could stay dim to maintain the sense that it was a theater) read the story. He was simply wonderful! He read/ the projector displayed the first five or six chapters (until the scene with the fire). After the show, Selznick spoke to a few of us about the train stations he'd used as inspiration. One woman who was there with her grandchildren shared that he had helped her remember the works of Méliès-- apparently this is a common sentiment! At any rate, it was just fantastic.

    P.S. I included a picture (yes, I am one of those annoying fans that has to have a picture taken, but it's not often I get to meet authors I adore!). At any rate, you can see the projector in the back, to give you a sense of how it was set up, with Selznick's signing area on the left. He commented that only in France would he be brought a bottle of champagne at a children's bookstore signing!


    Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteE.B. White

    "The Lion and the Mouse: The battle that reshaped children's literature." essay in The New Yorker by Jill Lepore (July 21, 2008).  Sources Lepore used for this essay, in pdf format.

    "Children's Books" an essay by E. B. White in collection of essays One Man's Meat in pdf format

    New York Times collection of info on E.B. White.  Includes links to recordings of White reading from Charlotte's Web.  (requires free registration with NY Times)

    Quotations by E.B. White at  Quiz on quotations in Charlotte's Web.

    Why Charlotte's Web is still a great book 50 years after publication. by Stephen Amidon in The Guardian

    E.B. White essay in The Atlantic "The Death of a Pig" January 1948. Betsy O'Donovan analyses why this is a good essay.

    Interviews by NPR's Melissa Block of E.B. White's relatives and author of annotated Charlotte Web on White's creation of the novel. (8-4-2008)

    Trailers on YouTube for 2006 live/CGI film (1 min). for 1973 animated film (3 min)

    Link to "Natural History," an E.B. White poem about spiders from 1929

    E.B. White in The New Yorker, May 23, 1953: "Walden is the only book I own, although there are some others unclaimed on my shelves. Every man, I think, reads one book in his life, and this one is mine. It is not the best book I ever encountered, perhaps, but it is for me the handiest, and I keep it about me in much the same way one carries a handkerchief - for relief in moments of defluxion or despair."


    Previous books.

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 

    Articles related to The Hunger Games

    Suzanne Collins's website

    Scholastic's teacher's guide to The Hunger Games

    Videos on YouTube connected to studying The Hunger Games

    Map of Panem, a teacher's detailed analysis of the US map as re-imagined in the Hunger Games series

    " 'The Hunger-Games':popular, violent, and rated PG-13" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article (March 2011) questions violence in book and upcoming film

    The Hunger Games wikia with 285 pages


     A Hunger Games map (click to bigger map)









    Hunger Games map (click to bigger map)


    Video for Tweens

    Fred Figgelhorn

     Fred Figgelhorn. 

    "Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-12 year olds" a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Use the link to go to the website and then download the report in .pdf format  Also,  Go to the 5 minute video on the report

    James Paul Gee on "Games and Learning" (1:47 min). From Edutopia on "Grading with Games." (3:58 min). on Global Kids in Teen Second Life from 2007a Pixie Hollow inhabitant

    Katie Salen on digital media and learning from MacArthur Foundation. (1:38 min)

    Video games for middler schoolers

    "Learning by Playing" by Sara Corbett in The New York Times, Sept. 2010 (.pdf file)

    "Gaming in Education" from Indiana University School of Education, Robert Appelman. (2:44 Min) with Jackson Creek Middle School Kids

    Popular virtual game sites for boys and girls include:

    Club Penguin. Children are penguins who decorate their own igloos and waddel around the Club Penguin world.  Popular for parties, kids chatting and weekly newspaper.

    Garden Party.  Avatars are stylized kids.  They live in treehouses and grow magical objects which they can Action on a PopTropica gamethen use or trade.  Click "Watch video"  to learn about Garden Party.

    PopTropica  PopTropica is published by Pearson Education division, so it has educational content. Also lots of puzzles and interactive sites.  More controlled environment than the 2 above.  Puzzles tend to be a little harder.

    ToonTown:  good characters try to take over the bad guys (Lawyers and suits) by fighting with gags.   "ToonTown Funny VP" is similar by more amusing and you see more of ToonTown

    Planet Cozmo  A virtual reality site that emphasizes tween/teen pop culture and music.  Nickelodeon's website, one of the biggest for children with numerous games, links to tv shows and more.

    Bella Sara is a popular web game, card game & now has related books

    Popular virtual game sites for just girls include:

    Pixie Hollow: create a fairy and fly. Video tour of Pixie Hollow by a girl. "Slate's Visit" video of fairies interacting in Pixie Hollow virtual reality  And an essay analyzing by Sara Grimes.

    BellaSara.  Tales about North of North's mysterious lost herds of horses.  Play online.

    Educational and entertaining games for middle schoolersMoby robot on BrainPop

    Videos of first-person shooter and role playing action games

    Articles and adult ideas on kids' video games.

    "Social Networking: A Parent's Guide"  information from the Federal Trade Commission on teaching kids virtual world safety

    "Designing-websites-for-kids-trends-and-best-practices/est practices on how to attract kids"  from Smashing Magazine, a journal on web design.  Article explains why Club Penguin and other sites work, or don't.

    Izzy Neis's blog

    Understanding Multimedia Learning.  Research, funded by BrainPop, on using educational technology (.pdf)


    Fashion and Girl Pop Culture for Tweens

     Tavi Gevinson, high-fashion teen girl blogger in Oak Park, IL. Chicago Tribune article on Oct. 2, 2011 (.pdf)  Link to  Link to her Tumblr site. Link to her blog.

    Tweenage Wasteland on by Mikaela Foster, a 12-year-old blogger. critiques blogs of Tavi and Madonna's daughter Lourdes. (June 2010)

    Cecilia Casini, a 10-year-old's fashion blog.

    TV for Tweens

    "First the Tween Heart, Now the Soul" New York Times (3/25/2010) article about tween TV creator and music guy, Dan Schneider

    TV shows for tweens emphasize being famous, according to study by UCLA psychologists. In 1967 shows for same audience emphasized community feelings and benevolence  Read article in Time from July 2011 

    Music and Media for tweensTaylor Swift

    Taylor Swift

    Hannah MontanaJustin Bieber

     Justin Beiber

    Nickelodeon Stars

    Top 40 Hitmakers

    Disney Stars

    Green Day. "Good Riddance (Time of Your Lives)" the contemporary graduation song in a YouTube video. "American Idiot" live performance video

    Beyonce "All the Single Ladies" YouTube video. 3:19 min. Lady GaGa "Pokerface" YouTube video 3:35 min. 

    Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" YouTube video. 4:51 min.  Hey Monday "Homecoming" Youtube video

    Tween music historyThe Monkees

    Commonsense Media's Tween Music page.  Promo for up and coming artists

    Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair"  Will and Jada Smith's 9-year-old daughter first hip-hop music video. Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen spoof this tune while channeling Neil Young.  YouTube video 3:49 min


     Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman



    YouTube videos on middle school.

    What's life like for middle schoolers and tweens today? 


    The following books and materials have been used for the Middle School Literature course taught in previous semesters.

    The ABCs of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro  

    "Passionate Kisses" video compilation of kisses from Dawson's Creek with Mary Chapin Carpenter singing Lucinda Williams' tune.  YouTube

    Betty Everett "The Shoop, Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)."  Aretha Franklin performs it live on Shindig here

    Sixpence None the Richer Montage of famous kisses "Kiss Me" YouTube video 3 min.  A video montage of couples from TV & films kissing to "Kiss Me"

    Happy Ending Kiss of Wesley & Buttercup.  YouTube 15 sec

    How to Kiss for the first time.  A funny, educational YouTube video

    Best Kisses website (kissing is even good for your health!)

    Tina Ferraro's websiteThe Kiss by Alfred Eeisenstaedt

    YA Fresh blogspot, hosted by Tina Ferraro and Kelly Para

    Interview with Tina Ferraro on The Story Siren 

    Luv YA Book club discusses the ABC's of Kissing Boys

    Review of ABC's of Kissing Boys on, a YA book review site by YA readers

    Video review by a girl reader of ABC's of Kissing Boys (YouTube) (1:19 min)

    Sports books for tweens and teens

    American Library Association's Banned Books Week.

    Kids dressed up for Halloween, and so did adults who create for kids

    A photo essay in Publisher's Weekly of children's book publishers and book sellers dressed up as children's book characters for Halloween

    at Little, Brown, Adrianna Stimola dressed up as everyone's favorite aardvark.At Scholastic's Halloween party, some staffers put together a clever group costume based on the covers of the Animorphs series of books.

    Virginia Hamilton's The House of Dies Drear 

    Home page of Virginia Hamilton.  She writes about what inspires her to write and the importance of libraries.

    Short section of 1988 film based on book.  YouTube. 2 min.Virginia Hamilton

    Glencoe Literature Library .pdf study guide (22 pages) for book along with connections to Frederick Douglass, Levi Coffin, Follow the Drinking Gourd folk song, and Charles Dickens.

    Comprehensive site about folklore in Virginia Hamilton's works.

    Three articles from HornBook about Virginia Hamilton

    Ohio author biography of Virginia HamiltonHouse of Dies Drear film

    Avalon Projects on historic documents at Yale Law School.  Documents on Slavery

    National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio

    National Geographic's interactive site about the underground railroad

    Follow the Drinking Gourd, a cultural website

    Map of underground railroad paths

    Friends of the Underground Railroad website


    Additional Links of interest

    Recycle your Reads.  An interesting blog by a teacher of tweens who's incorporating technology into the Lanuage Arts class.  Check out her blog on Cornerstone books and the accompanying videos that the kids created about their cornerstone books.

    How to get boys to read. Huffington Post essay from July 20, 2010

    Video of Tween Girl Summit. Dec. 2009

    iTwixie a new website hangout for tween girls.

     English/Language Arts classes resources for Middle School and High School

    Syllabus for Fall 2018 Section 2 (in .pdf format)