Honors Contract: Children’s Literature



Children’s Literature

 This Honors Contract can be taken concurrently or sequentially (the semester immediately following the semester the course is taken) with the following course:

 Johnson County Community College provides a range of services to allow persons with disabilities to participate in educational programs and activities.  If you desire support services, contact the Student Access Center (913) 469-8500, Ext. 3521, or TDD 469-8525.

Course Title:  Introduction to Children’s Literature             Course No:  ENGL 232

Author of Contract:  Marilyn Senter                                    Hours Credit:  One

In addition to satisfying the normal objectives/competencies of the course, the student must complete the following objectives to accomplish a higher level of scholastic work:


  1. To demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of literature written for children.
  2. To research in both primary and secondary sources, including print and electronic forms.
  3. To evaluate primary sources in terms of their characteristics and qualifications.
  4. To articulate the research results with other students of children’s literature.

 Choice ONE:

Children’s literature often serves as a mirror of current cultural and social issues.  Identify a single, major issue/theme in modern children’s literature.  Describe the issue/theme and explain why it is important that children be exposed to this concept through literature.

Select three separate authors who have addressed this theme in their writing and explain how their treatment approaches the subject area, attracts their audience, and explains the idea effectively (or ineffectively).  You may choose authors who address the same age group, or you may choose authors who present the same issue to different ages, or you may follow the issue over time.  In addition to the primary works, use secondary sources which discuss how the issue/theme is present in each work.

Your paper should be 8-10 pages long, and should be documented in MLA style with a complete Works Cited page. You should schedule a time with your instructor and me for a 15-minute class presentation.

Choice TWO:

Select 8 Caldecott or Newberry winning books (or 4 of each), and make poster boards which show the “Book at a Glance” to an appropriate audience.  Each board should include these separate articles:

  • Book summary
  • Criticism/evaluation of the book
  • Author’s biography
  • Reference list (Other books by author, bibliography, etc.)
  • A student activity
  • A visual representation of the book/author (related picture, background image, photos)

Make arrangements with your instructor for these poster boards to be displayed in one of the current Children’s Literature classes.  NOTE:  You and the instructor may agree on a different type of presentation of the material.  You may also choose a theme (“Flights of Fancy,” “Strong Women,” “Talking Animals”) instead of just looking at Caldecott/Newbery award winners.

Choice THREE:

Characters from many famous pieces of children’s fiction have been transformed to life through movie presentations and/or television programs.  These presentations/adaptations may include a movie with real actors, a cartoon, or an animated version.  Select at least three examples where a children’s book has been transformed to a video production and describe how the content, theme, and action carry over from print to video.

Compare and contrast the three distinct examples, showing the similarities and differences in development, interpretation, and message.  Create a project which demonstrates what you have learned.  This could take several forms:  an 8-10 page paper, a Power Point presentation, a scrapbook, etc.

 Choice FOUR:

Prepare an annotated bibliography of children’s books written to address specific situations.  These books may cover such subjects as alcoholism, divorce, death, non-traditional families, etc.  The bibliography should enable its user to quickly find books recommended to help children through crises in their lives.

Start by creating a list of situations and then research titles of books which address these situations.  Read the books and select appropriate titles for different age levels.  Prepare your bibliography using MLA style and including a five to ten sentence summary of each book.  You and the instructor will determine the number of books to be included on the bibliography based on length of the books and time spent reading them.

Make copies of the final product and arrange a time with your instructor to present your bibliography to a current Children’s Literature class.

Choice FIVE: 

 This is a service learning option involving on-site work at an agency in town which serves children in need.  This may be part of a group project with other honors or service learning students.  Projects may vary, but a typical project might be structured like this:

Select an agency from the list provided.  Take an inventory of the children’s books currently available at that agency.  Identify areas where more books are needed.  Using the criteria learned in class, compile a list of suggested books for inclusion in the library.  If monies are available, purchase the books and put them into the classrooms.


  1. Independence in doing projects.
  2. Time committed to task (approximately 50 hours).
  3. Complete adherence to standard writing forms.
  4. Regular meetings with mentor (8/semester).
  5. Process oriented approach to project.
  6. Excellent presentation to the class.
  7. Intellectual eagerness and self-motivation. 


  1. Proper format and grammar in written/visual presentation.
  2. Overall organization of projects.
  3. Preparation of class presentation.
  4. Excellent writing skills.
  5. Originality and creativity.
  6. Depth of research in primary and secondary sources.
  7. Adherence to time commitments.

Schedule of mentor/student conferences: