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BYU Course Outcomes

When you have successfully completed this course, you should be able to:

  1. Experience as many children's books as you can by reading them for your own purposes and from your own perspective.
  2. Understand and apply criteria in evaluating children's books for quality and function.
  3. See more clearly how books affect you, and thus sharpen your powers of observation about the books themselves and how you respond to them.
  4. Understand how to select and use trade books (bookstore retail books and books purchased for libraries in contrast to textbooks) in the classroom and in the home.
  5. Help children establish a lifelong habit of reading in order to enrich, enhance, and bring joy to their lives.

Course Structure

Your work in this course will consist of five general tasks:

  1. Reading children's books.
  2. Reading children's books.
  3. Reading children's books.
  4. Reading the text (Children's Literature, Briefly, or CLB5) and Discussion Material in the course manual.
  5. Keeping records of your reading, recording short responses to the book, and submitting the records to your instructor.

Course Materials

The text for this course is Children's Literature, Briefly, 5th Edition, by James S. Jacobs and Michael O. Tunnell. Prentice Hall, 2011. Most often I will refer to the text as CLB5.

In earlier editions of the textbook there was an accompanying CD database. This database allowed you to keep a record of your children's literature reading, as well as providing a format for submitting your reading records with the appropriate lesson. If you started the course when we required the earlier edition, directions for using the textbook CD are in the Appendix. Unfortunately this database is no longer being updated and does not work with more recent computers, so we discourage you from using it to compile your reading records. Proceed with caution and be sure to completely read the Appendix if you choose to attempt to use the CD; otherwise, you will cause yourself a lot of extra work and frustration.

The fifth edition of CLB does include access to an online database. Unfortunately this access only lasts a year, so I do not recommend that you use it for recording your notes on the books you read for this course since you will lose access to them after that year is up. The database is useful, however, for looking up bibliographic information and written plot descriptions for the books you read.

The required text, Children's Literature, Briefly, 5th edition (CLB5), and the required paperback chapter book texts (see the following list) are available through the BYU Bookstore's Textbook department. The BYU Bookstore's toll-free number is 1-888-454-6884, and their website is byubookstore.com. Do not feel that you have to purchase the required chapter books/novels—sources for finding them are listed later in the syllabus.

Required Chapter Books/Novels

The "Reading and Study Assignment" steps in each lesson will instruct you when to read the books listed below. These are required books. You will submit your records for these books with records for other books of your own choosing with specific lessons. For instance, you should read Stargirl, with lesson 6: Realistic Fiction. (You will find information about the book records for books which you choose yourself, in the next section, "Own Choice" Reading and Records.) Except for the text, CLB5, and this course manual, all books you will read for this class are trade books.

If you have already read any of these required titles as a child, you should reread them. Reading a required book lately—within a few months (perhaps in anticipation of this course)—would be permissible.

Reading Record and Assignment Submission Schedule

Lesson Required Titles/Assignments Own Choice from Lists Total Records

Picture Books:

No required titles; choose according to class guidelines

24 picture books; see lesson for # of books per category 24 titles

Traditional Fantasy:

No required titles; choose according to class guidelines

9 folk or fairy-tale picture books, all traditional fantasy 9 titles

Modern Fantasy:

  • The Book of Three, Lloyd Alexander
  • The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling, or another book in the series or Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
2 chapter books, both modern fantasy 5 titles

Realistic Fiction:

  • Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
  • The Wednesday Wars, Gary D. Schmidt
  • Skinnybones, Barbara Park or Friendle, Andrew Clements
  • Wait Till Helen Comes, Mary Downing Hahn or View from the Cherry Tree, Willo Davis Roberts
5 chapter books from realistic fiction, humor, mystery, suspense, and biography 9 titles
7 Adventure/Historical Fiction, and Biography
  • Charlotte's Rose, A.E. Cannon or The Devil's Arithmetic, Jane Yolen
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  • So Far from the Bamboo Grove, Yoko Watkins and/or Year of the Impossible Goodbyes, Sook Nyul Choi
  • Lincoln: a Photobiography, Russell Freedman
4 chapter books from adventure and historical fiction 8 titles
8 Poetry Assignment You will read several poetry books of your own choice to compile a poetry collection of 20 poems to submit with Lesson 8
9 Informational/Nonfiction
  • Children of the Dust Bowl, Jerry Stanley
  • Bet You Can't, Vicki Cobb or Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow, Susan Campbell Bartoletti
8 informational books, 2nd grade and up 10 titles
  • Reading Logs
  • Reading Disclosure Statement
  • Any extra reading records

"Own Choice" Reading and Records

In addition to the text (CLB5) and 13 required chapter books listed above, you will see that you are expected to read books of your own choosing:

The Reading and Study Assignment section of each lesson explains the exact number and type or genre of books per lesson.

The recommended books from which you will choose your "Own Choice" books are listed after the Discussion Material of each lesson in the lesson manual. There are also suggested book lists in CLB5 following most chapters. Both sources organize the books as: "Favorites" and "Others We Like." I have indicated my favorites in the book lists by putting the titles in boldface. You must choose your "Own Choice" books from these book lists. You also may choose to read from the Newbery and Caldecott Medal or Honor books. Caldecott books will only count for Lessons 2 and 4.

I repeat and emphasize, you must choose your "Own Choice" reading from the following sources:

  • Book Lists after each lesson in this course.
  • Recommended Book Lists after most chapters in CLB5.
  • Any Newbery or Caldecott Medal or Honor Book.

A few notes on choosing books:

The BYU Bookstore textbook department tries to keep as many of the required books as possible on hand. If you go to the Bookstore in person, look on the shelves under the course name and number (EL ED 340).

However, because you will be reading lots of children's books, required and "own choice," you should have access to a good children's library—public, school, or academic. If you are in an area without a good library, you may want to travel to a center in a larger city where you can spend a day reading picture books and arranging for interlibrary loans, etc. BYU's Harold B. Lee Library has an excellent children's literature collection, as does the BYU Bookstore retail section. Chain stores like Barnes & Noble allow people to sit down and read picture books. Also, many public libraries have an interlibrary loan system and will also mail several books at a time to rural areas.

And, of course, there are Amazon, eBay, and other online sources which have both new and used books available. (Titles you read through Amazon's Kindle or other device are also acceptable.) I have bought used (and hard-to-find) titles online at surprisingly cheap prices. I have seen used children's paperbacks for under a dollar. Many of the recommended books are paperbacks. Of course, the cheapest places of all are the free public and school libraries.

Finally, CLB5 pp. 248-249 lists some common places where you may purchase inexpensive children's books.

Websites for Out-of-Print Books

Here are a few suggestions for websites that may be useful as you search for inexpensive copies of books:

Children's Literature Related Websites

Note: Since websites are constantly changing, you may run into errors for any of these addresses. In that case, it may be helpful to type in the title of the site into your browser and see if your search engine can find the site.

You might also look into reading electronic copies of books (ebooks) on an electronic book reader. Reading in this manner uses an electronic device as the base, and you download content through the Internet. Many older books are free in electronic format; you can find them online through websites such as Project Gutenberg. Amazon.com and Google Books also offer electronic books. You don't have to read ebooks only on the computer screen. Devices you can use range from an iPhone or PDA to a dedicated reader such as Amazon's Kindle. The advantages of using a dedicated reader are that they have long battery life and are easier on the eyes. The disadvantages are that they are not very good for viewing pictures. You can also sync ebooks across several devices, if the license agreement permits it. Ebooks can be cheaper than paper versions, and also give you access to a wider range of content if you don't have easy access to a library.

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Summary: 7 instructor-graded assignments.

You will not be required to write essays or papers. You will, however, be required to read and report that you do. Here is the assignment breakdown:

Because the purpose of this course is for you to have enjoyable experiences in engaged reading, please pay particular attention to the following information about reading records.

Reading Responses

The purpose of the reading record is twofold:

Your reading records will be short, individual records of each of the 65 children's books you will read for this course. Each reading record should be grouped and submitted with the appropriate corresponding lesson.

Generating and Keeping Your Reading Records

You must keep a record of your children's book reading and submit these reading records with the appropriate lessons.

If you have an older version of CLB and would like to try to use the children's literature CD database included in your textbook to compile your reading records, consult the Appendix for instructions.

Reading Record Templates:

For these assignments you will use a template for formatting your records: Reading Response Template. For more information on using this template, see the “Formatting Your Written Work” section at the end of the syllabus.

Your reading records will contain general bibliographic information to help you locate the book again in the future: author (and illustrator, if book is a picture book or a chapter book with significant art), title (italicized), publisher, copyright date, pages, genre, brief summary, and your comments. You can find almost all the bibliographic information on your book’s title page. The copyright and a short, but adequate, annotation (plot description) are on the book’s verso. The verso is the backside or reverse of the title page where the Library of Congress (LC) bibliographic information is printed. If you want a longer annotation, and don’t want to write it yourself, you have several options. Check out the front book flap, find a summary in the online database you have access to with CLB, use Amazon or a similar bookseller site, or consult a library catalog. You do not have to write the summary yourself; this is the one instance where you are encouraged to copy and paste!

What to include in your comments:

Lengthy “comment” sections are not required for this Independent Study course. Your comments need only be four or five sentences. For your own purposes you may add to those lines, but a longer evaluation, I repeat, is not necessary for an “A.” I am looking for quality, not quantity.

What is useful to note for each book besides the bare facts? You may want to write that a certain book is an excellent book to read aloud or that chapter three would take about fifteen minutes and would catch enough students’ interest to make them want to pick up the book. Perhaps you would note that the figurative language is especially noticeable and would come in handy to introduce a unit. You may want to copy a quotation (or two or three) that has special significance to you. Or you might note some type of activity or response from students that might be an enjoyable substitute for the conventional book report.

Here are some sample comments just to give you ideas of how varied, observant, and creative these brief “comments” can be.

Picture Book Example: Saint George and the Dragon, by Margaret Hodges (illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman)

Note: Dealing with the illustrations in a picture book response is vital. Picture book responses must include details about both the writing and the illustrations to receive credit.

Comments: The language is perfect for an old traditional tale, giving it the flavor of Old England. The colors are toned down or muted. This helps create the ancient feeling that pervades the book. It is reminiscent of an illuminated manuscript from the middle ages. The muted colors create a serious mood. The ancient English countryside is carefully recreated, and the plants and flowers shown in some of the borders are accurate to the time and place of the story. True to fairy-tale patterns, George makes three separate attempts to slay the dragon.

Novel Example: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsberg

Comment: The book is filled with similes and metaphors: “Their stomachs felt like tubes of toothpaste that had been all squeezed out” (p. 47). “I guess homesickness is like sucking your thumb. It’s what happens when you’re not very sure of yourself” (p. 88). “Claudia’s whisper began to sound like cold water hitting a hot frying pan” (p. 104). Konigsburg also does a wonderful job at “showing not telling.” For example, when Jamie finds the money at the bottom of the fountain (pp. 83-86), the author doesn’t come out and say it. Instead, she says, “When he got into the pool, he found that it moved! He could even pick it up. He felt its cool roundness and splashed his way over to Claudia. ‘Income, Claudia, income!’ he whispered.”

“Bad” Examples of Comments

Do not write comments like these two examples:

For Tuck Everlasting: “I love to hate the man in the yellow suit. Interesting to look at how he was described and find the exact words Babbitt used in order to get me to hate him.”

For Saint George and the Dragon: “What beautiful pictures! I can see why it won the Caldecott Award. I loved the bright colors. The story was not too exciting, however. I was bored even though the language used by the author was colorful and quite well done. This would be good for a unit on folktales or fairly tales. George and Una get married at the end and live happily ever after.”

Do not evaluate the books with comments like, “It was interesting,” “Good story,” “I liked it,” or “Cute.” These are meaningless and you will not receive credit for them. Use specific examples, as appropriate for the book, to support your claims. A quick way to check is to ask yourself one question—if someone was reading your response, and you didn’t tell them the book’s title, could what you write apply to any book? If so, you are not being specific enough.

You will save these reading responses as PDF documents and submit them for each lesson. See “Formatting Your Written Work” below for more detailed instructions

Reading Logs and Reading Disclosure Statement

In addition to the reading records, which you will submit in installments throughout the course, you are required to make an additional log of all the reading you do—a simple list of both the required paperbacks and the books of your own choosing (as well as any extra readings, if you choose to do them). Unlike the reading records, you will not submit the Reading Log periodically. Instead, you will keep the Reading Log updated as you proceed through the course and then submit it along as part of the assignment for lesson 10.

Here is the [ LINK REMOVED ] Reading Log that you should be able to open and edit with any word processor. You will save this log as a PDF document and submit it, along with the [ LINK REMOVED ] Reading Disclosure Statement, at the end of Lesson 10. See “Formatting Your Written Work” below for more detailed instructions.

The last form is the Reading Disclosure Statement. You must fill in the blanks on this page and sign it. “Signing” the document may be done by either printing out the document, signing it, and rescanning it, or simply typing in your name at the bottom as your “signature.” Your signature on the statement indicates that you have been honest with yourself and with me, that the work has been your own, and that what you have reported is true. (Please also see the last entry in this syllabus, the Academic Honesty Policy.)

You will not receive credit for your reading or for this course if you do not submit the signed Reading Disclosure Statement!

Formatting Your Written Work

You will submit written assignments to Independent Study electronically. To make sure I can open and read your assignments, please save them as PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files.

All of your submissions must be in PDF format, using the templates provided to you. This ensures that I will be able to open your assignments and your formatting is preserved so your assignments look as wonderful while I’m grading them as they did when you were writing them.

  1. Click on the template for the assignment. Your browser will ask what you want to do with the .RTF (Rich Text Format) file. Select the option to open the file.
  2. Select the word-processor program you want to use to open the link.
  3. The file will open in your word processor. Save a copy to your computer so you can edit it.
  4. There are only two “reading records” in the template document—simply copy and paste the form as many times as you need to accommodate the number of books in your particular assignment. (Assignments should be submitted as ONE DOCUMENT with the exception of Lesson 10.)
  5. Please place your reading records in alphabetical order by the author’s last name (unless the lesson instructions tell you otherwise.)
  6. Once you are done editing your document, you will need to print your assignment as an Adobe Acrobat PDF for submission. Many word processing programs already include an option for printing directly to a PDF file. You choose this option much like you’d choose which printer you would like to print to. If yours does not already have this option included, I recommend installing one of the many that are available for free on the Internet. Two good ones are www.cutepdf.com or www.primopdf.com.
  7. Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, "ENGL55_JaneSmith_Lesson1Assignment.PDF."
  8. Log in to your course, choose the appropriate assignment, attach the file(s), and submit.

Please ensure that each assignment submission includes all portions of the assignment and is in the correct format. Assignments are graded as they are submitted, so if you are missing something or attach the wrong document, you will have to pay a fee to revise and resubmit the assignment.

Submitting Your Portfolio Assignments

It's very important that you submit all of the assignments for a portfolio at the same time. Here's how to submit your completed portfolio assignments:

  1. Click the Portfolio Submission link in your course.
  2. Click Open.
  3. Attach all of the relevant assignments by clicking the Choose File button, then locating the file you wish to submit.
  4. To attach additional files, click Add Attachment and use the Choose File button to locate and upload the next file. Make sure you attach every file you need to include in the portfolio assignment.
  5. When you are finished, click Submit.
  6. You will be asked if you are sure you want to submit the assignment. Click Yes.
  7. You will receive a message that tells you that you have successfully submitted your assignment. Click OK.

Remember: Do not submit any assignment until you have completed all of the assignments for the portfolio!

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Summary: There is 1 proctored final exam (multiple choice, matching, short answer and essay questions). The final exam is worth 200 points.

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Your course grade is determined by your lessons, your reading and reading records, your poetry file, and the final exam.

The breakdown of the course experiences are as follows:

Six submitted reading record assignments 11% each (66% total)
Poetry submission 11%
Reading Log and Disclosure Statement 11%
Final Exam 12%
Total 100%

I will calculate your letter grade based on this scale:

Grading Scale
A 100-93
A- 92-90
B+ 89-87
B 86-83
B- 82-80
C+ 79-77
C 76-73
C- 72-70
D+ 69-67
D 66-63
D- 62-60
E (fail) 59-0

I look forward to seeing your work!

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Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is defined as the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. This may also include when a student copies and pastes directly from another source and passes it off as his or her own, copies computer-generated text from a translation tool and uses it as his or her own, or fails to cite a source after loosely summarizing its content in his or her own words.

As determined by your instructor or the BYU Independent Study administration, if evidence of academic misconduct on assignments or exams is established, one of the two following consequences will apply to each incidence:

First Offense of Plagiarism

Second Offense of Plagiarism

Academic Honesty

Please take time to review BYU's Academic Honesty Policy. Pay special attention to the section on what constitutes plagiarism.

So very little writing is required for this course; I expect the response sections of your assignments to be 100% your own reactions and responses to the text. Although reviews can be helpful tools for choosing books, there is no need to look at reviews of books for drafting your responses when you have read the book yourself. Copying and pasting from online reviews or websites, or using ideas that you see there, and representing them as your own work, is plagiarism. This can be grounds for failing an assignment, or even the entire course.

In this course there is a zero tolerance policy for this type of academic dishonesty. You will receive a zero on any lessons that contained plagiarized materials and those assignments cannot be made up. Be diligent to ensure that your work is your own, and that the responses you write will be meaningful to you in the future.

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


There are 7 instructor-graded assignments. The assignments may be resubmitted once for a fee.

Resubmit assignment for a fee.


There is 1 proctored final exam (multiple choice, matching, short answer and essay questions). The final exam is worth 200 points. In order to pass this course you must pass the final exam with a minimum of 60 percent. You may retake the exam once for a fee. 
Retake the final exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514