Slice of Life #7 – a textbook?

I’m writing a practicum. I want to say that I’m trying to write a practicum, but if one of my students wrote that my feedback would be, “Be confident, say that you are going to do it!” So I am saying it here on my blog, which somehow makes it sound more confident because it’s so very public: I’m writing a practicum. A practicum is a research project/study completed as a requirement of my Ph.D. program. After I write and defend my praciticum, I will need to write a dissertation. I’m trying not to think about that right now.

What is my practicum about?

It’s about a textbook. Yes, really a textbook. I know that textbooks make many people cringe, they bring on memories of studying for tests, forced reading, nonsensical writing, figures, appendices and indexes. But this isn’t just any textbook. It’s the first edition of Children’s Literature in the Elementary School. It was written by Charlotte Huck and Doris Young and published in 1961.In 2010, the tenth edition of this textbook was published, now edited by Barbara Keifer who was a student of Huck’s at The Ohio State University. (Previous editions were co-edited by Susan Helpler and Janet Hickman, also student’s of Huck’s.)

So what? So why do I care – or why should anybody care about a textbook published in 1961?

One of my research interests is the role that children’s literature plays in pre-service teacher education, this textbook is one of the first to combine these two areas together. And it clearly has longevity, to still be revised and published after 50 years is no small feat. What is it that has made it the gold standard in a field where there are numerous textbooks to choose from? As of the writing of this post, google scholar claims that across editions, it has been cited 671 times! When I am reading both in and outside the discipline of children’s literature, Huck is frequently cited as the expert.

I feel strongly that children’s literature should be part of teacher education. And having a better understanding of the genesis of thinking about this topic will help me to better understand what arguments have been made before, how they were made, and what Huck & Young did that helped to shape the way that children’s literature in education is thought about today.

Here are some questions that I’m asking as I read and reread the textbook alongside other writing from the time period:

  • How are they trying to convince teachers to think about children’s literature in elementary classrooms as more than just a tool of learning how to read?
  • What and who are they using to support their argument about children’s literature in elementary classrooms?
  • How is the textbook (and argument) asking teachers to think about children’s literature and children as readers?
  • What themes and patterns are explicit and implicit in the ways that they ask teachers to think about children’s literature?

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be blogging about my practicum. I’m struggling with some writing issues that are not helpful or productive, but I am loving blogging. Along the way, I welcome any comments, questions, pushing, agreeing, disagreeing, encouragement, etc.

I am writing a practicum. I will finish it, submit it, and defend it. I will pass. And I will move on.

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7 thoughts on “Slice of Life #7 – a textbook?

  1. I love the “I am writing a practicum” statements at the beginning and end. You have some very interesting research ahead of you. I’m afraid there is very little children’s literature in some of the classrooms I see. I am shocked when teachers don’t know a multitude of authors. Can you fix this?

    • Thanks so much Elsie! I’ve actually been reading A LOT and it is pretty interesting. Now it is time to put it on paper.
      I know what you mean about the lack of literature in classrooms – it’s one of the reasons that I decided to work on a ph.d. – my hope is that by working with pre-service teachers on seeing and experiencing the importance of literature in the classroom, they will carry that with them into their own classrooms.

  2. I love your self-affirming statements at the end. I’m sure you will do very well! Your topic choice is super intriguing — I bet it’s funny to read a textbook that old. Have you run across any entertaining out-dated phrases? P.S. Thanks for the nod to THE Ohio State University!

  3. Hello, Kristin – You left a comment on my blog a little while back about the Pinkney show – a couple of us will be heading there this Saturday around 11am if you can make it. My email is scopenotes at gmail dot com.

  4. I agree it should be a cornerstone of teacher preparation. My college didn’t even offer the course. Luckily, I am already a reader but sheesh. We held an institute at our school and began by bringing a children’s book we loved. (This was with other teachers around the city.) One of them said that she didn’t read children’s books. Huh? I’m just not sure how you can be a reading teacher and not do any reading!? Good luck!

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