President's Message

As the end of February nears, I want to note that registration is open for the June 2020 Children’s Literature Association conference, “Sustainability Through Story: Eco-Justice, Children’s Literature, and Childhood.” I hope that you can join me in Bellevue, June 18-20. I understand from the conference organizers Michelle Martin and Liz Mills that Bellevue is a beautiful mid-sized city within easy access of Seattle.

I should also mention the fine slate of candidates on the ballot for positions on ChLA committees. I thank those of you who agreed to run for elected positions and remind members who have yet to vote that you have until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, March 9, to do so.

At my university February is full of deadlines. Last week I received a notice about the deadline for ordering books for my fall courses, an introduction to literature that’s the gateway into the English major and an intermediate, writing-intensive course on African American literature. This impending deadline has prompted me to think not only about the texts I’ll assign but also about what I will expect students to learn. The African American literature course is among those courses in my department that are designed to foster students’ ability to conduct research and use it responsibly, as well as to develop their skill in exploring literature and its historical contexts. One assignment that I will probably adapt for the course will entail that students read a peer-reviewed journal article and work with it to create different kinds of descriptive and responsive writing. Early in the process, students answer questions that I pose about the article’s content, organization, and style. Then, they write a three-page paper summarizing the article, describing its organization, and characterizing the focus of the journal in which it appears. Later they write a precis they might include in an annotated bibliography. Throughout these different phases, I encourage students to put trust in their own language to discuss the article, spending time practicing paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting the article. They are usually adept at choosing a relevant passage to quote but need practice writing about others writers’ ideas in their own words. My hope, which has sometimes been realized in past semesters, is that students gain confidence by getting to know and sticking with an article, and build on that to be more assured as they engage with other secondary sources.

Years ago, the assignment required that students visit the library and find the journal article on their own. Now, I encourage them to use the library’s website to gain access. This usually involves my talking about the digital databases, like Project Muse and JSTOR. In the interest of transparency, I have mentioned my relationship with ChLA and the way it is compensated when users of Project Muse click on essays published in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly and Children’s Literature.

Before I close, I will mention that the Board and various ChLA committees are examining and in many cases implementing suggestions members offered at the 2019 ChLA Conference’s Listening Tables. And we are also organizing the data from September’s poll of members’ interests in order to facilitate your connecting with others who share your professional interests.

Thank you for your attention—and see you soon!

Share this post:

Comments on "President's Message"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment