UCCI Course Description

Exploration of Child and Adolescent Literature

Overview Course Content Course Materials Related Resources
Length of Course
Full Year (2 semesters; 3 trimesters; 4 quarters)
Subject Area - Discipline
English (B) - English
UC Honors Designation
CTE Sector
Education, Child Development, and Family Services
CTE Pathway
Grade Level(s)
Successful completion of English 9 or equivalent


Exploration of Child and Adolescent Literature is a grade 10 English Language Arts college preparatory course integrated with the Education Pathway standards.  This course allows students to utilize Language Arts skills to investigate and evaluate the value and purpose of world literature for children and adolescents. Students synthesize their knowledge of the developmental stages of physical, intellectual, social, and emotional (PIES) development with their understanding of appropriate teaching materials and readings for each of the stages (will be addressed in each unit).  In addition, students evaluate how familial and cultural influences affect the themes and development of child and adolescent literature and why those themes are crucial to the educational progress of children and adolescents. Students conduct research, closely read and analyze complex texts, evaluate the components of effective child and adolescent literature, create a digital portfolio (e-portfolio) of original work, and maintain a reflective log/notebook.

Course Content

Unit 1 : History and Value of Children’s Literature [~4 weeks]

Unit 1 Description

Essential Question: Why is it important to understand the developmental stages when making literature-based instructional decisions?

In this unit students discover the history and value of children’s literature, review the variety of genres, and refresh their ability to identify theme and gather strong textual evidence.  Through reflective reading and close examination of a variety of nonfiction texts, students develop an understanding of the historical background of children’s literature. For students to understand how literature directly affects a child’s development, the class reads and annotates the article “The Value of Children’s Literature” and views the PowerPoint P.I.E.S: The Areas of Development.  At the end of the unit, students bring in their favorite children’s book to review and share with the class. Their review will include an analysis of the general characteristics of the book (genre, theme, value, etc.), as a way to assess their understanding of different literary terms.  The Reflective Log will also be introduced, which will be used throughout the year. In this journal, students explain how their understanding of the developmental stages (PIES) would impact the instructional decisions they make as an educator.

1.1 - Each student reads and annotates one of several nonfiction articles (including “The Value of Children’s Literature” and PowerPoint on PIES) regarding the history and value of children’s literature.  Then students SOAPSTone and jigsaw with classmates the information they gleaned from their text and take notes on the shared information.  This process provides background information on the meaning and value of children’s literature to set the tone for the work to be done throughout the year and helps students to think about why children need stories.  Using the articles, notes, and their personal experiences, students create a Reading History/Memory Walk (poster, PowerPoint, etc.) of their own literary journey. Students address the research from the articles within their presentation and show the research connection to their personal experiences (ie. How did the literature develop their own emotional intelligence, creativity, personality, social development, etc.).

1.2 - Students receive a children’s book review guide to explore during this unit. Students will review their favorite children’s book(s) and explore the general characteristics of child and adolescent literature.  As part of the review, the students will, in small groups, identify how each piece of literature contributed to their development as a child.  Students will choose their favorite book from childhood and use the annotated articles and book review guide to analyze their book, looking specifically at the theme, genre, and how the book supports the child’s development at a specific stage.  Students will write a literary analysis of their book to demonstrate their understanding of the components of a piece of children’s literature supporting their analysis with textual evidence.

1.3 - Students create a Reflective Log in order to process their learning, make connections between the stages and the literature, and to reflect on their educational journey and their potential journey as an educator. At the end of this unit, students reflect on their own literary journey and the connections they have made to the literary choices educators make.

*E-Portfolio - Students create a wiki or website that serves as a digital portfolio to store key assignments that students add to and update throughout the year-long course.  Suggested applications include: WordPress, wikispaces.com, edutopia.org, etc.

Unit 2 : Infants and Babies (0-2) [~6 weeks]

Essential Question: What components does an effective picture book for this age include and why?  

The students explore the PIES development of infants and babies (using the “Ages and Stages” site). They connect this information to picture books and nursery rhymes and describe how these genres contribute to an infant’s development.  The students use their reflective logs, text sets of nonfiction and fiction, and a variety of nursery rhymes and picture books to help them with their assessments of how these resources help them shape their decisions regarding the use of literature for infant development.

2.1 - Students review the PIES for infants and babies. Students read and annotate the article, “How to Raise a Smart Child”. The students explore the types of books that are age appropriate for 0 - 2: Highly reflective colors, textures, board books as opposed to paper pages, few keywords on each page. The students will look through the class library for books that would qualify for children of this age development. The students will be arranged in small groups to read and present their books using the strategies appropriate for a 0-2 year old (animated voice, face to face interaction, recognition games/questions, appropriate text selection, etc.). Each group will critique each other’s presentations using the FHA-HERO competition rubric (adjusted for 0-2 year old presentation).

2.2 - Research paper - Using proper citation, claim and evidence, students write a research paper on the history of a rhyme and the cultural significance of the rhyme, and make connections to PIES and the 0-2 stage of development, incorporating evidence from the article “How to Raise a Smart Child”.

2.3 - The students explore the literary devices (onomatopoeia, anaphora, rhyme/rhythm, etc.) of several nursery rhymes (bilingual nursery rhymes could also be considered utilizing a text like this one). Using a given list of characters (animals, inanimate objects, etc.), setting, and a current issue (bullying, divorce, friends, etc.), students will create their own nursery rhyme using appropriate literary devices.  Students will add final product to their e-portfolio.

*Reflective Log - Students respond to the Essential Question in personal narrative format.

Unit 3 : Toddlers / Preschool (2-5) [~6 weeks]

Essential Question: How do fairy tales foster or expand the intellectual, emotional and social development of toddlers/preschoolers?

In this unit students focus on the genre of fairy tales. They identify and analyze the elements of a story. Students compare similar themes in different cultures around the world. They read and analyze a variety of fairy tales focusing on the archetypal characters analyzing how the plot is developed by character conflict and motivation. Students analyze the stages of toddler development and how the genre of fairy tales connect to and foster a child’s development.

3.1 - After reviewing the PIES for toddler development, students analyze the importance of reading fairy tales to this age group utilizing the article “Why Fairy Tales Are Essential to Childhood”. Students identify the central idea and the textual evidence the writer uses as support. Students write a rhetorical precis on the article explaining how the structure and content of fairy tales connect to and foster toddler development.  

3.2 - Students compare at least two versions of the same fairy tale from different cultures, analyzing how even if there are different cultural versions of a story, the theme can remain the same.  Students write a paper (with proper citation) establishing the thematic topic and the similarities and differences of the plots, analyzing how culture can influence a child’s intellectual, emotional and social development, and addressing how teaching different cultural viewpoints can promote both unity and diversity in the classroom.

3.3 - Students research a fairy tale from a culture other than their own. Students analyze for character and theme using SIFTT (Symbolism, Imagery, Figurative Language, Tone, Theme). Students create their own fairy tale modeling the structure and SIFTT elements of the fairy tale they researched, with a focus on a culture of their choice. Students present their fairy tale to reading circles (using appropriate voice, pitch, and body language), and will add the story and a reflection to their E-portfolio. Students will evaluate their peer presentations using the FHA-HERO competition rubric.

*Reflective Log - Students respond to the Essential Question in personal narrative format.

Unit 4 : School Age (6-11) [~6 weeks]

Essential Question: As children enter a new stage of development and understand more of the world around them, how can literature help them see different perspectives and reflect on social norms

Students learn about the development of school-aged children (ages 6-11). They analyze how different pieces of literature can provide an avenue for students to develop their own moral code.  Looking at fables from outside of the United States and a variety of poetry and short stories, they analyze how these pieces of literature can enhance social and emotional development.

4.1 - After reading and annotating the “Ages and Stages” for the PIES development for school age (6-11) children.  Students will be divided up into groups for a jigsaw reading of  “Children and their Books.” Students present to each other the main ideas from each section. Students take notes on the presentations and write an objective summary of the entire article.

Using the objective summary students develop a formal letter (from a teacher’s viewpoint) to parents emphasizing some of the key points for parents to consider in order to help their child(ren) succeed in school. Students are to use the appropriate tone and letter format. Article topics:

  • The need for physical well being 
  • The need to love and be loved
  • The need to belong
  • The need to achieve
  • The need for change
  • The need to know
  • The need for beauty and order

4.2 - After reading a selection of fables, fiction (The Giving Tree,The Missing Piece, Yertle the Turtle, The Little Prince) and poetry (Shel Silverstein), students identify a theme common to the three genres. In an informative response (using correct citation) students support what they believe the theme is across the three genres, how it is relevant for this developmental stage, and what topic (see topic list from 4.1) this addresses for children of this age.

4.3 - Students choose one new children’s literature text from the genre of their choice to analyze for allegory and theme (SIFTT). Then students choose a relevant  moral/social conflict and create a fable, short story, or poem (in a medium of their choice) that teaches an important lesson, or helps a student see from another’s perspective. Add to the e-portfolio and share in the reading circles. Students score their peer’s presentation using the FHA-HERO competition rubric.

*Reflective Log - Students respond to the Essential Question in personal narrative format.

Unit 5 : Young Adult 12-18 [~6 weeks]

Essential question: How can literature influence important moral or social decisions that adolescents are often faced with at this stage?

In this unit, students explore the PIES (with an emphasis on Social/Moral) aspects of the adolescent ages, 12-18. Students analyze various pieces of literature that are appropriate and useful at this developmental stage and how they address different social, cultural, and familial issues that adolescents face at home and in the classroom. Students determine how these factors impact students’ ability to understand/interpret literature in the classroom. Through reflective reading and close examination of informational texts, fiction, and poetry, students develop a deeper understanding of how key genres are useful at this developmental stage. Students produce text annotations that demonstrate an ability to make meaning of various genres of text by tackling complex vocabulary,  making personal connections, etc. Students create a visual presentation that demonstrates a deep understanding of the relationship between characters in a novel and the emotional, social, familial (etc.) factors that impact specific characters and--by extension--become relatable/practical to the adolescent readers of this novel. Students also take one specific social issue present in a particular novel and create an argumentative essay that makes a specific claim in defense of one “side” of this issue and additionally offers a counterclaim referencing the opposite side of the issue. Students also write a reflective journal in which they summarize, connect, and answer the essential question explored during this unit.

5.1 - After reviewing PIES for this developmental stage, students form literature circle groups.  The groups choose a book from a variety of Young Adult Literature novels. Students divide their novel into 3 sections and plan to meet with their Literature Circle 3 times (every two weeks).  For each section, students have a role for which they are responsible within the groups. Lit. Circle roles (Questioner, Word Wizard, Connector, Literary Luminary, Researcher, Travel Tracer, etc.) will encompass Common Core and CTE standards that address theme, grade level appropriateness, age-appropriateness, social and cultural concepts,  EL teaching strategies, historical connections, and other categories identified by the teacher as appropriate.. Each student comes prepared with his/her analyses or responses specific to his/her area of focus. At the end of each Literature Circle meeting, students must produce their combined work as an entire completed project -- a literature/novel guide that can be used in the classroom by a teacher. The guide should be a packet that contains vocabulary words, historical connections, etc. that students might use as resources as they read through the novel. Students will also complete a self-evaluation of their final product. They will evaluate the clarity, organization, quality, thoughtfulness, thoroughness, etc. of the novel work compiled by the group.

5.2 - Argument Essay/Letter to the Board - In order to conduct an argument research essay, students make an argument for or against the use of their Literature Circle book in the secondary classroom considering the “ages and stages” development for this age group, the controversial topics that this age may identify with, and the grade-level appropriate common core standards that the use of this text would address. Using a minimum of three reliable sources (including the common core state standards), they will present an argument essay that follows the organization and structure of argumentation by presenting a claim and a counterclaim. This argument will be written as a business letter to the school board as a defense of/petition for use of the novel in the public classroom. Eportfolio - Students enter their final argumentative letter into the online portfolio as part of their collection. Possible article to use: Teacher Perspectives on Controversial Young Adult Literature

5.3 - Core Novel - Students read a novel selected by the teacher over the course of the unit (timing to be determined by the teacher). During the reading process, students analyze complex characters and their conflicts; identify relevant, current social issues present within the text; analyze and explain how the issues present in the text make the novel relatable to the PIES developmental stage of an adolescent/teenager. Students then create a presentation (Google slides, Prezi, Powerpoint, etc.) that demonstrates their understanding of the social issues present in the text and how those issues relate to them. Students score their peer’s presentation using the FHA-HERO competition rubric.

*Reflective Log - Students respond to the Essential Question in personal narrative format.

Unit 6 : Culminating Unit [~4 weeks]

Essential question:  How do teachers make literature decisions that reflect their students’ current stage of development, and why?

In this unit, students wrap up the course with a culminating project. Students use and apply the information they learned from previous units and create their own original piece of literature in the form of a children’s book or young adult short story. This story will incorporate literary elements to apply their understanding and knowledge of the course content. Students will use educational technology to present their original work to the class. As a final reflection, students will evaluate their story and explain how it is developmentally appropriate for the grade level for which they wrote it.  

6.1 - Original Children’s book or Young Adult short story - Students choose a  developmental level covered throughout the entirety of the course and write an original children’s book or young adult short story. They are required to incorporate specific literary elements of plot, theme, and characterization. Students will read through the Tips for writing a Children’s Picture Storybook.

  • Brainstorming Session: Students share summaries of their notes from their journals. Students provide an overview of the steps that they should follow; gathering details about their stories, developing plots, storyboarding, writing and illustrating. Students are introduced to the use of an interactive Story Map to create and print out graphic organizers to utilize: character map, conflict map, resolution map and setting map.   

Finally, students read their original stories to the class (using appropriate presentation strategies for the age level for which it was created). Next, students will create a visual (using a medium of their choice) that discusses why they created this story, defends their creative choices, and explains why/how this story is appropriate for the age level they selected (PIES).

6.2 - Reflection - Students write a reflective piece introducing their product and their purpose and personal connection to the piece.  Additionally, they evaluate how the piece is appropriate to the PIES level for which it was written.

6.3 - Eportfolio Completion - Students submit an electronic compilation of relevant and significant assignments completed throughout the year. Work should be sorted electronically in folders. Student view a variety of student resume options and determine a format that best suits their needs. Then, they create an entry level student resume and file it in an electronic folder in the e-portfolio. Students also solicit a general letter of recommendation to serve as a character reference. Students also create one work sample as a means to showcase a career specific skill(s). The Work Sample is a document that includes a picture of the student “in action” in the field, as well as a narrative (in a text box) that describes the skills necessary to perform that task. Students must compile all assignments in this final unit and submit them in electronic form within the e-portfolio.

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