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ENGL 277 A: Introduction to Children's and Young Adult Literature

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
LOW 101
Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges

Syllabus Description:

Instructor/Course Information

Instructor: Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges
Class: TTH, 2:30-4:20 p.m.
Location: Loew 101
Office: Padelford A-305
Phone: 543-4892
Office Hours: TH, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., in person and online (
99924234056), and by appointment


Children’s and young adult literature serves multiple educational, social, and cultural purposes: teaching children to read alphanumeric and visual texts; demonstrating how narrative, genre, and literary devices work; showing how one might navigate personal and social issues; offering windows into experiences that differ from one’s own; and conveying ideologies either invisibly or critically. In English 277, students explore these purposes by reading children’s and young adult texts produced in various genres, including picturebooks, hybrid novels, print fiction, and comics. We will also examine how such literature constructs cultural understandings of “child” and “teen” or “young adult.” Doing so requires us to look closely at the relationship between course texts and the contexts in which they were produced.

English 277 fulfills VLPA and W general education credits as well as counting toward the English major or minor.

Goals and Methodology

Students in the course work toward several goals:

  • Analyzing the characters, language, structure and themes of fictional texts,
  • Explaining the relationship between selected children’s/young adult works and the historical, political, institutional, and cultural contexts of their production,
  • Explicating how audiences process children’s/young adult literature,
  • Defining (and recognizing the limits of defining) children’s/young adult literature, and
  • Developing as critical thinkers who can formulate substantive arguments and explore those arguments with evidence.

Course activities promote active learning, with most class sessions incorporating a mix of mini-lectures, discussion, and group work. The course design—which includes frequent non-graded and graded writing—reflects the importance of writing as a means of learning. My role is to provide the tools and resources you will need to advance your own thinking. I will pose questions, design activities to help you think through these questions, and respond to your ideas. Your role is to do the hard work—the close reading, discussion, and writing. You will analyze texts, present your interpretations via class discussion and written assignments, and critically respond to others’ interpretations.


Class Participation

Class discussion constitutes one key method for developing your analytical skills. Thus, I expect prompt, regular attendance and active participation in discussions of texts. You should come prepared for each class session, with required reading and short assignments completed. During class discussions, students should plan to ask questions, respond to poll questions, summarize their short assignments, interpret text, or contribute to small-group exchanges. Students should also expect me to call on them or ask them to facilitate group conversations, as I want everyone to earn full points for class participation. Like all skills, speaking in class becomes easier with practice. I do not expect fully polished analyses in class discussion; rather, your contributions represent ideas for further development. Because students will have multiple, sometimes conflicting, interpretations of course texts, we will establish norms for maintaining a respectful classroom environment early in the quarter.

Because the presence of student laptops and wireless Internet access present the temptation of email and the web, students must follow basic ground rules:

  • Students should switch off and stow their cell phones before class begins unless otherwise directed.
  • Students may use laptops to take notes, participate in polls, share content generated during small-group exercises, access course texts or short assignments, and research questions posed in class discussion
  • Students should not check email, electronically chat, update their social networking status, or access the web during class unless asked to do so.

If you must miss class due to illness, I will provide alternative ways for you to contribute. I may ask you to keep a reading journal, comment on peers’ short assignments, engage in online discussion with others who are ill, or share textual annotations with peers. If I must miss class due to illness, I will email the class as soon as possible and move planned activities online.

I assess participation each class period on a credit/partial credit/no-credit basis; students who complete assigned discussion tasks and whose contributions demonstrate careful preparation and active engagement with course texts will receive full points. Lack of engagement in class activities, inadequate preparation, and failure to adhere to classroom rules will substantially lower your participation grade for the course.

Short Assignments

Students will use the Canvas discussion area to respond to readings, workshop project ideas, or share interview and observation data. Each week, I will provide questions or guidelines to help you structure your remarks. Short assignment responses typically range from 250 to 300 words. Please note, though, that selected assignments may require longer responses. Short assignments allow us to extend class conversations, consider how audiences interact with children’s/young adult literature, and develop project ideas. Short assignments receive points on a credit/partial credit/no-credit basis. Work that meets minimum content requirements and demonstrates thoughtful engagement with the assignment prompt will receive full points. Note that, with the exception of project proposals, I will drop your lowest short assignment score in calculating your final grade.


Students will complete three projects: a multimodal picturebook analysis, a discussion of one or more fantasy texts, and an investigation of one or more realist works. In class, we will complete activities to help you formulate project ideas, develop arguments, select effective supporting evidence, logically organize thoughts, and revise drafts. I encourage you to discuss your work with me in office hours. You may seek feedback from consultants at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center in Odegaard Undergraduate Library and CLUE Writing Center in the Mary Gates Commons. You will submit your projects via the course Canvas site.


Grades in English 277 will be computed by points, with 400 points equaling a 4.0, 300 points a 3.0, and so on. If your total falls between grades, I will round up if you score one to five points below the higher grade and round down if you score one to four points above the lower grade. For example, 274 points equals a 2.7 and 275 points a 2.8. Students who score less than 65 points total will receive a 0 for the course, as the UW grading system does not scale grades lower than 0.7.

Apart from participation and short assignments, which are graded on a credit/partial credit/no credit basis, points for each assignment will be awarded based on quality of work submitted. I will distribute grading criteria with all assignments. Each component of the course is worth the following number of points:

  • Class Participation: 80 points
  • Short Assignments: 100 points
  • Picturebook Analysis: 60 points
  • Novel Analyses (2): 160 points


Course texts are available at the UW Bookstore. Students may purchase used copies from local bookstores or digital versions of the novels online. Please purchase all picturebooks in print form.


  • Morales, Yuyi. Dreamers. Neal Porter Books, 2018. ISBN: 0823440559
  • Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are. 1963. New edition. Red Fox, 2000. ISBN: 9780099408390
  • Woodson, Jacqueline and Hudson Talbott. Show Way. G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2005. ISBN: 0399237496


  • Acevedo, Elizabeth. Clap When You Land. Hot Key Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781471409127
  • Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone. Henry Holt and Co., 2018. ISBN: 1250170974
  • Alexie, Sherman and Ellen Forney. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 2007. Reprint edition. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009. ISBN: 9780316013697
  • Gaiman, Neil and Dave McKean. Coraline. 2002. Reprint anniversary edition. HarperCollins, 2012. ISBN: 0380807343
  • Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. Square Fish, 2008. ISBN: 0312384483


Lateness Policy

Since short assignments form the basis of in-class discussion, I will not accept these assignments late. Essays are due on the dates/times indicated on the course schedule. Late work will receive a 10-point deduction per day late, including weekends and holidays. Failure to submit required project proposals and participate in the class proposal workshops will result in a 10-point deduction from the final grade, as the ability to consider and revise from feedback is an essential component of the W credit. I will make exceptions to the lateness policy only in cases of documented illness or family emergency.

Technology glitches do not constitute valid excuses for lateness. To avoid problems, you should save frequently while working and you should back up work saved to a hard drive on a USB drive or an online file archive (Dropbox, iCloud, UW Google Drive, personal files space on Canvas). You are responsible for submitting the correct version of all digital assignments.

Academic Integrity

English 277 adheres to the University of Washington’s policies on academic integrity, which prohibit unacknowledged use of another’s content or ideas (see
pdf/AcademicResponsibility.pdf). When you draw upon or reproduce sources, make clear to your audience that you are incorporating others’ work by placing quotation marks around exact words; noting the creator’s name whenever you quote, describe, summarize or paraphrase; and captioning visuals with creator and title information.

Failure to credit sources may result in a failing grade for the assignment, a failing grade for the course, or other disciplinary action by the university’s Committee on Academic Conduct. The course links page contains information on when and how to cite sources. For essays, we will use MLA 8th Edition citation conventions, which require in-text parenthetical citations and a list of works cited. We will discuss citation conventions appropriate to other formats students choose for their projects.

Face Covering

The University of Washington is requiring everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask or other face covering indoors when on site at a University of Washington location ( Students are required to follow the University’s COVID-19 Face Covering Policy at all times when on-site at the University, including any posted requirements in specific buildings or spaces. Students who do not comply with the policy will be asked to leave class. If you have a mental health condition, a developmental or cognitive condition, or a disability that prevents you from wearing a face covering, contact Disability Resources for Students to request an accommodation ( If you have concerns that those around you are not complying with the face covering policy, please contact the Community Standard and Student Conduct Office ( or the Environmental Health & Safety Department (


The university encourages students to enroll in the Husky Coronavirus Testing program, which involves daily health check-ins, symptomatic testing, and occasional asymptomatic testing ( If you experience fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please get tested for COVID-19, stay home until you receive a result, and contact me if you will miss class. The UW’s COVID-19 FAQs site has information on testing ( Those who test positive should immediately notify the UW COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team at or 206-616-3344.


Disability Accommodations

Disability accommodations grant students with ongoing or temporary disabilities access to educational opportunities. Accommodations do not alter or lower course standards each student must meet; rather, they assist students in learning the same material and meeting the same expectations as their classmates who do not have a disability. Disability Resource for Students (DRS) works to ensure access for students with disabilities by designing and implementing accommodations. DRS determines academic accommodations for each student on an individual basis through an interactive process.  If you require disability accommodations, please contact DRS as soon as possible (

Religious Accommodations

In accordance with state law, UW provides reasonable accommodations for student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (

Email and Access to Course Web Site

You must have a UW Net ID, a working email account and a way to access the course Canvas site. All assignments will be distributed and collected online; selected readings will appear online as well. Moreover, I expect to communicate regularly with you via a UW-generated email list.

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to creative works written for children and young adults, with emphasis on historical, cultural, institutional, and industrial contexts of production and reception. Also examines changing assumptions about the social and educational function of children's and young adult literature.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
April 13, 2021 - 7:52am