Children’s Literature Beyond Childhood

Today’s post was written by Carol Raby, library events manager, and Nicole Murph, reference assistant.

This spring, library staff collaborated with two faculty from LMU’s School of Film and Television in undergraduate and graduate screenwriting adaptation courses to introduce children’s literature as a resource and an inspiration for developing future projects. For each course, we selected approximately 20-30 items from our Curriculum Materials Collection, tailored to the assignment and thematically ranging from the emotional and adventurous to the humorous and historical.

We began by discussing current trends in children’s literature and the publishing industry through a DEI lens, based on the Diversity Baseline Survey 2.0 created by Lee and Low. Next, we shared the three picture books (i.e., books that tell the story in both the art and the words) listed below and briefly discussed how storytelling functioned within each book through text and illustrations.

The students had been given the assignment to write a pitch adapting a children’s book for movie, television, or documentary. As the students browsed some of the pre-selected texts, we encouraged them to explore the wealth of resources each text provided, including author and illustrator notes, additional sources, bibliographies, maps, photographs, and timelines, as well as external resources available at the library.

The next part was exciting! Students were asked to share their pitches and receive constructive feedback. The feedback involved students, faculty, and staff asking questions, sharing our curiosities, the connections, or themes, and mentioning movies or television shows as reference points. The enthusiasm and engagement in the room was palpable. As the class concluded, students checked out a few books while others photographed books to come back to at a later time. Professor Karol Hoffener commented, “This is the most fun day of the year!” Professor Beth Serlin said, “Adapting children’s literature could be an entire unit of study.”

These class sessions offer the opportunity to revive and deepen our connections with children’s literature. After all, the books you read as a child rarely change; but you did! Children’s literature offers something for many areas of the LMU curriculum. Undergraduate and graduate level courses in screenwriting, graphic design, theology, rhetorical arts, communication studies, history, and sociology are a few of the areas that regularly invite library staff into the classroom for hands-on learning with children’s literature. The results are inspiring and have even prompted capstone topics and research papers. We admit: it’s a fun and emotional journey for us as well!

Our work shows both students and faculty the versatility of children’s literature. We develop a custom list of books for each class to support its learning outcomes. For example, psychology or theology courses studying grief or death customs might use books such as “Cry, Heart but Never Break” or “Duck, Death, and the Tulip.” Psychology students will discover that the five stages of grief, initially theorized in 1969 by Swiss psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, are depicted in “Cry, Heart but Never Break.”

If you would like to learn more about the library’s Curriculum Materials Collection, we have a dedicated LibGuide. If you would like to read more about using children’s literature at the university level, here is an interesting article: “What’s so important about children’s literature? Nostalgia meets research” by Christina M. Desai, on the value of children’s literature in academia.

If you would like to have a tour of the Curriculum Materials Collection, please contact Carol Raby at If you would like to request library instruction using children’s literature for your class, please submit a library instruction request form.