Children's Literature in a Global Perspective

Course - first cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students spring 2013, autumn 2012

Course Code:
KS197E revision 1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of establishment:
21 December 2007
Date of ratification:
02 March 2012
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Education and Society
Enforcement date:
03 September 2012

Course description

The objective of the course is that the students shall learn about the history and development of national as well as international canons of children’s literature. The objective is also to acquire knowledge about different genres of children’s literature, such as picture books, ABC-books, fairy tales, adventure stories, as well as of children’s literature in different media. An additional objective is that the students shall raise their own awareness of what children’s literature is.

Advancement in relation to the degree requirements

Single subject course.

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + English B.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student should be able to:

  • use the different media of children’s literature creatively and critically
  • make use of children’s literature resources in archives, libraries, in databases and on the internet
  • describe some of the main issues in children’s literature, such as the representation of gender, generation, ethnicity and nature, through the writing of an argumentative essay
  • discuss the different genres of children’s literature by drawing on national as well as international canons of children’s literature
  • create and present a children’s story of their own
  • professionally use children’s literature in teaching.


Assessment is based on a mid-term essay, a piece of creative writing/illustrating, and an oral presentation.

Course content

Children’s Literature in a Global Perspective covers the development of children’s literature from ABC-books, primers and traditional fairy tales to Disney and Harry Potter. A broad range of genres and examples of children’s literature in different media are taken up. But where traditional children’s literature courses have one cultural and linguistic focus, such as the English-American tradition or the Swedish tradition, the main concern here is to give a global perspective. The course combines two approaches to children’s literature – the critical and pedagogical. Examples of important critical and theoretical perspectives are provided, and the major problems pertaining to the genre and history of children’s literature are covered. At the same time the course is teacher-oriented – stimulating pedagogical reflection and a creative approach to the study and teaching of children’s books.

Learning activities

The course consists of lectures and seminars. An important aspect of the teaching of this course is the use of different media, such as film and storytelling. The course will also attempt to take into consideration and take advantage of the international composition of the student body.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Andersen. H. C. Fairy Tales. London: Penguin, 2001. (150 p)
Collodi, Carlo. Pinocchio. London: Penguin, 2002.
(167 p)
Beckett, Sandra & Maria Nikolajeva. Beyond Babar: The European Tradition in Children’s Literature. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2006. (322 p)
Frank, Anne. The Diary of A Young Girl. London: Penguin, 2001.
(335 s)
Gamble, Nikki & Sally Yates. Exploring Children’s Literature. London: Sage, 2002. (208 p)
Jansson, Tove. Tales from Moominvalley. Sunburst, 1995.
(176 p)
Kästner, Erich. Emil and the Detectives. London: Randomhouse, 2001.
(218 p)
Lagerlöf, Selma. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. London: Puffin, 1999.
(292 p+246 p)
Lindgen, Astrid. Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. New York: Penguin Putnam, 1985.
(176 p)
Rowling, J.K. The Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005. (
Rushdie, Salman. Haroun and the Sea of Stories.London: Granta, 1991
(218 p)
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. London: Pantheon, 1994. (154 p)
Saint-Éxupéry. Antoine de. The Little Prince. Mammoth, 1991.
(96 p)

Malmö university perspectives – gender, environment, migration and ethnicity
The course engages with critical perspectives on gender, migration, ethnicity and durable development through choice of reading matter as well as in the instruction of method and theory. Children’s literature in a global perspective promotes the idea of world citizenship through education; the course highlights diversity, heterogeneity and different traditions, yet advocates the universal. Humankind’s relationship to the non-human is also reviewed, an important step towards ecological awareness and environment-sensitivity needed in the making of a durable future. Finally, the concept of “generation” is brought to bear on issues of power and citizenship in children’s literature.