Understanding Children's Books: A Guide for Education Professionals


Prue Goodwin

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    For Bill and all the children, students and colleagues with whom I have ever shared children's books.

    About the Author

    Prue Goodwin is a freelance lecturer in literacy and children's books and works part-time with trainee teachers at the University of Reading. In 2005, Prue edited the second edition of The Literate Classroom, a collection of articles by leading teacher educators published by David Fulton. The Articulate Classroom, on speaking and listening, was published in 2001 and Literacy through Creativity in 2004. Prue regularly returns to the classroom to introduce children to a range of literature and to encourage wide, voracious reading.

    About the Contributors

    Liz Attenborough manages ‘Talk to Your Baby’, the early language campaign of the National Literacy Trust, encouraging parents and carers to talk more to children from birth to 3. Liz was a children's book publisher for 24 years, including 12 years as Publisher of Puffin Books. From January 1998 to September 1999 she was Director of the National Year of Reading, a government campaign to encourage reading for pleasure across the community. The following year she studied for an MA in Child Studies at King's College, London.

    Nikki Gamble is an education consultant specializing in children's literature, drama and arts education. She is Director of Write Away, an organization that seeks to promote literature and the arts in education. Nikki was formerly a primary and secondary school teacher and subsequently taught students on primary teacher training programmes. She continues to work with children, young people, teachers and families in both formal and informal educational contexts. Recent publications include Family Fictions (2001), with Nick Tucker, Exploring Children's Literature (2008) (2nd edition forthcoming, Paul Chapman Publishing), with Sally Yates and Guiding Reading (2006) (2nd edition), with Angela Hobsbaum and David Reedy.

    Dr Mel Gibson has run training and promotional events about comics, picturebooks, manga and graphic novels for libraries, schools and other organizations since 1993 when she contributed to Graphic Account on developing graphic novels collections for 16–25-year-olds, published by the Youth Libraries Group (YLG). She is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Northumbria. Her doctoral thesis was on British women's memories of their girlhood comics reading. She is a National Teaching Fellow and is also Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Award judge for Northern YLG. She teaches modules in both ‘Children's Literature in Context’ and ‘Picture Books and Comics for the Developing Reader’.

    Judith Graham, although officially retired (and enjoying grandmother-hood), still works occasionally at Roehampton University and in the Faculty of Education in Cambridge. Her interests are in all areas of literacy and children's literature. She is the author of Pictures on the Page and Cracking Good Books (NATE, 1990 and 1997), co-editor, with Alison Kelly, of Reading under Control and Writing Under Control (David Fulton, 2007 and 2003) and co-author, with Fiona Collins, of Historical Fiction: Capturing the Past (David Fulton, 2001), an edited collection of pieces on historical fiction for children.

    Dr Gillian Lathey is Reader in Children's Literature at Roehampton University and Director of the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature. She began her career as an infant teacher in north London and joined the staff at Roehampton as a teacher trainer. Combining interests in languages, childhood and literature, she now teaches children's literature at undergraduate and Master's levels, supervises PhD students undertaking children's literature projects, and researches the practices and history of translating for children. She also administers the biennial Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation.

    Ann Lazim has been Librarian at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) in London for 15 years having previously worked in school and public libraries. She is Chair of the British Section of International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and is currently serving on IBBY's international Executive Committee. Ann completed her MA in Children's Literature at Roehampton University. She has a longstanding interest in traditional stories and how they are retold and illustrated in different countries and cultures.

    Dr Michael Lockwood taught in schools in Oxford before becoming Lecturer in English and Education at the University of Reading, where he is course leader for the BAEd English programme. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of knowledge about language for primary school pupils, teachers and ITT students, and children's literature, especially poetry. Publications include Opportunities for English in the Primary School (Trentham, 1996), Poetry In and Out of the Literacy Hour (RALIC, 1999), contributions to The Articulate Classroom (David Fulton, 2001) and Literacy through Creativity (David Fulton 2004), as well as classroom literacy resources and poems for children.

    Catriona Nicholson was a teacher in primary and special schools before becoming a Lecturer in English and Education at the University of Reading. She has been a co-director of CIRCL and was a tutor on the MA in Children's Literature. Recent publications include contributions to: The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English (2001); Children in War: The International Journal of Evacuee and War Child Studies (2004); Literacy Through Creativity (David Fulton, 2004); Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (Thomson Gale, 2006)

    Dr Margaret Perkins has worked in initial teaching training for many years in different institutions. She has taught across the whole primary age range, although is predominantly an early years teacher. Her research has been into teachers as readers and the teaching of reading. She has a keen interest in children's ideas about and response to popular culture. In 1998 she co-authored, with Diane Godwin, Teaching Language and Literacy in the Early Years, published by David Fulton.

    Dr Vivienne Smith was a primary teacher in Suffolk before completing a doctorate and moving into higher education. She now works as a lecturer in the department of Childhood and Primary Studies at the University of Strathclyde, where she teaches in the language team and pursues research interests in children's literature, critical literacy and the development of children as readers. She has been a passionate reader of children's books for many years, and, for some time, has been particularly interested in how the best picturebooks and lift-the-flap books orientate children towards becoming engaged and active readers of all sorts of texts.


    Many thanks to the children, parents and staff of St. Joseph's RC Primary School, Guildford, and St. John's CE Primary School, Reading, for the cover photographs and so much more.

    Thank you to David Higham Associates for permission to reproduce two pages from Child, L., My Uncle is a Hunkle, Says Clarice Bean and to Palgrave Macmillan for permission to reproduce extracts from Reynolds, K. Modern Children's Literature: an Introduction.

    I am very grateful to my friends and colleagues who have contributed chapters to this book.

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