Children — Literature and Law

The articles and suggested activities in this guide focus on the content and challenges in today’s children’s literature and the content of the character and challenges to Dreamers to remain in America, the only home they have known.
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The earliest books for children were actually for both children and adults. They were fables, fairy stories and chivalric romances. By the mid-17th century books for children were both for their moral education and entertainment. In the mid-1700s publishers emerged with books “to instruct and delight young readers”: Thomas Boreman published A Description of Three Hundred Animals (1730), Mary Cooper gathered two volumes of nursery rhymes under Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Books (1744), and John Newbery published his first book for children, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book Intended for the Instruction and Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly (c. 1744). Newbery became a very successful publisher of children’s literature, including the first children’s periodical and the first children’s novel, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes (1765).


Newbery is known as the “father of children’s literature” and namesake for one of the prestigious awards given for authors, illustrators and publishers of children’s literature. Today’s children’s literature is more inclusive. Young adult literature has grown for the between child- and adulthood. And detractors remain who seek to challenge or ban books from public libraries and schools.


The National Council of Teachers of English in its position on “Preparing Teachers with Knowledge of Children’s and Young Adult Literature” addresses the “power of these books to affirm lived experience, create empathy, catalyze conversations, and respect the questions, challenges, and emotions of childhood and adolescence.”


In addition to children’s literature being in the news with the death of Beverly Cleary and the decision to cease publication of six Dr. Seuss books, we include a section on the re-introduction of the American Dream and Promise Act and the DACA program that currently protects dreamers from deportation. Post coverage and suggested activities give students the information to follow Senate action.


The moral compass that guided early childhood literature and the dreams of parents for their children, the diversity of today’s literature and Dreamers, meet and are challenged in literature and law.




April 2021




Children's Literature Awards
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Celebrate Authors and Books
English, Reading, Social Studies

In her acceptance speech when receiving the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the American Library Association (ALA) in 1975, Beverly Cleary shared questions she had had and their motivation: “Why weren’t there more stories about children playing? Why couldn’t I find more books that would make me laugh? These were the books I wanted to read, and the books I was eventually to write.”


Cleary’s April 12 birthday is National DEAR Day, when schools across the nation Drop Everything And Read.

What other days have been named to remember authors? Here are a few to share with your students:

• January 2   National Science Fiction Day (Isaac Asimov’s birthday)

• January 18   Winnie the Pooh Day (A.A. Milne’s birthday)

• February 18   Toni Morrison Day (in Ohio)

• March 2  Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss’s birthday)

• May 25   Towel Day (Douglas Adams)

• November 1  Authors Day


For a far more extensive list, visit Literary Holidays to Celebrate All Year Long.

Are there any authors that you and your students would want to celebrate? If yes, brainstorm ways to celebrate. If not, which author do your students want to add to the designated days? Is there someone born in your state? Or who set works in your state? How would they like to celebrate the writer? Try to tie to characters, events and themes in the author’s works.


To meet contemporary children’s literature authors visit KidsPost Readers’ Corner


Should Six By Seuss Be Suspended?
Character Education, Debate, English, Ethics, Language Arts, Reading

On what would have been Theodor Seuss Geisel’s 117th birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it would stop publication of six works that include “hurtful portrayals of cultural stereotypes.”


Some Dr. Seuss books with racist imagery will go out of print,” a Business section article, received 830 reader comments before the automatic 14-day comment closure. A wide range of views is expressed on this private company’s decision.

Read and discuss “`The Great Dr. Seuss Hysteria of 2021 shows how silly and unimaginative adults can be.” As a group determine the three main ideas presented by the author. Do students agree, disagree, or partially agree with these ideas?   IN THE RESOURCE GUIDE

In addition to Alyssa Rosenberg’s opinion, the following comments that relate to the Seuss decision may initiate discussion or become the basis of debate topics:

• Post book critic Ron Charles writes in “The time is right to cancel Dr. Seuss’s racist books”: There’s been a heightened awareness of the way racism is subtly inscribed in our culture, including in our children’s books. Publishers have been trying to undo the damage with titles such as Ibram X. Kendi’s “Antiracist Baby,” Bobbi Kates’s “We’re Different, We’re the Same” and Chana Ginelle Ewing’s “An ABC of Equality.”

But these concerns are not new or — despite mockery from the right — part of some trendy ­cancel-culture hysteria. …

Also read for comments on the six Seuss books that will no longer be published.


• In “What the librarian who rejected Melania Trump’s Dr. Seuss books as ‘racist’ got wrong,” the commentator writes: [a librarian’s] additional role as an educator is to provide students with the full context of any of those works, showing them how to understand the good, the bad and the ugly in it. 


• It was a company’s decision. It is their product. It is not book banning.


Debate Why Books Are Banned
Debate, English, Reading

Banned Books Week was launched in the 1980’s, a time of increased challenges, organized protests, and the Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982) Supreme Court case, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content, according to the ALA. Review the works in “ALA Releases 2020 Most Challenged Books List.” Have students read any of the books? What do they think of the reasons these works have been challenged?


Teachers may also read The Post’s Book World Critic Ron Charles’ “For Banned Books Week, I read the country’s 10 most challenged books. The gay penguins did not corrupt me.”


The theme of this year’s Banned Books Week (September 26-October 2, 2021) is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” The book community seeks ways to spotlight attempts to censor books and to support the freedom to express ideas, to create a dialogue.


So Many Choices
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Take a Poll
Art, English, Mathematics, Reading, Visual Arts                          

Teachers might informally talk to their students about the children’s books and authors that they read and loved. Or you might begin with the survey, My Children’s Literature Experience. Have students complete the questions alone. Then tabulate the responses to 1-7 and discuss the works many shared or the ones they had forgotten or never heard of.


It might be fun to share the responses to #8 and #9. Have students selected ABC books that reflect your community, special interests or cultural changes?


Teachers might turn #9 and #10 into art projects. Either working alone or in writer/artist teams.


Think About Children’s Literature
English, Reading, Science

What books and authors have your students loved? Give students the activity, What Makes a Children’s Literature Author Special?


In addition to Beverly Cleary and Dr. Seuss, add Ezra Jack Keats to the discussion. Go online to the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation website. What aspects of The Snowy Day made it special from its publication? Watch the video or read the book, especially if there are students who are unfamiliar with the book, Peter and the illustrations.


The NCTE advises “teachers should be skilled at helping s  tudents develop a common language for determining what makes a book excellent literature.” As students reflect on their favorites, what characteristics make them memorable?


Teachers might review the Virginia English/Reading and the Maryland Reading academic content standards for the progression in abilities, the maturing sequence of reading and understanding literature. In part, these may be considered aspects of the distinction between children’s literature and YA literature.


Interview an Author or Character
English, Journalism, Reading

Check with your local bookstore, library, college or writer’s group to see if an author may be making an appearance. Ask to contact the author to meet with your students before or after the engagement. Another approach would be to arrange an online interview. Some students have written personal letters to authors whose books they have read — and received priceless responses.


Students could be asked to take on the role of characters from a book or sections of a longer work. Other students in the class will prepare questions to interview them. This has the possibility to engage the best readers with those who need more assistance.


Teachers may also review the readwritethink group’s lesson Press Conference for Bud, Not Buddy.

Brainstorm a Headline
Composition, English, Journalism, Reading

After conducting the interview, write the Q&A, essay or profile. Give it a headline that captures the spirit of the author or character.


Teachers may ask students to think of where this may be published. Online publication copy editors are thinking about search engines and key terms. For example, for the same article:

Online Title: Beverly Cleary taught girls to make a brave demand: Love me for how I am

Print Title: Cleary’s gift to girls: Ramona with zest


Students can find other pairs and discuss the summary, wordplay and search-ability. Write two sets of headlines for their pieces.


Students could debate the challenge to a particular book, contemporary or historic. Or consider the points of view about whether any books should be banned. For example, how should decisions be made to use public library funds for books and online research equipment and software? Should books (for children, YA, adults; in schools and public libraries) be banned or censored for the best of reasons?

Read About Dreamers and DACA

Who Are Dreamers?
English, Government, Journalism, U.S. History

Yes. Dreamers are visionaries. They are people with their heads in the clouds. They are inventors, designers, choreographers and others who use their imagination. They are the athletes who work to reach their goals. Teachers may wish to focus on this latter definition of being a dreamer. See below the Legends activity and readings.


Give students the handout Who Are the Dreamers? They will be introduced to the iterations of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act that was first introduced in 2001 and again in 2021. The activity includes reading “As House approves ‘dreamers’ bill, Biden pushes for support amid GOP resistance in Senate” and answering questions.


An alternative lesson for 8th-11th grade students is provided by the National Museum of American History in the Becoming US, teacher resources for a more accurate and inclusive migration & immigration narrative. Review the case study, A Dream Deferred.


Follow the Legislative Act
Government, Journalism, U.S. History

If teachers do not have time for the entire activity, read and discuss “As House approves ‘dreamers’ bill, Biden pushes for support amid GOP resistance in Senate.” Set up an e-Replica alert to follow any action on the current bill. Questions from Who Are the Dreamers may help guide reading and discussion.


Interview a Dreamer
English, Government, Social Studies, U.S. History

Review Teachers Notes: Interview a Dreamer for suggestions for this interview activity.

For background preparation for the interview, give students the Post guest commentary, “What abolishing DACA would mean for thousands of admirable ‘dreamers,’” to read and discuss.


Write a Lede
English, Journalism, Physical Education

The lede summarizes the article. The lede may also be a variety lede that sets up the action or scene, that describes the person profiled or an activity, that establishes perspective or relationship to others. Give students Youth vs. Age. These are ledes of two Post Sports section articles: “The budding legend of Bueckers” and “Twilight of the Alpinist.”


Read the lede of “The budding legend of Buecker.” Find examples of

• Alliteration

• Contrast or contradiction

• Description

• Numbers

• Time, passage of time

• Youth


Read the lede of “Twilight of the Alpinist.” Find examples of

• Contrasts

• Definition

• Description

• Setting


Discuss these techniques with students. How do the rhetoric and diction introduce the profilee?


Discover a Legend
Character Education, English, Physical Education

This activity is built around two Sports articles: “The budding legend of Bueckers” and  “Twilight of the Alpinist” Both Sports section articles are examples of profiles. Before reading and discussing the articles, teachers may wish to study the ledes. In them, you understand that Youth is a statement. Age is a question.


The articles may be used as models of profile writing. As a stand-alone to discuss the traits of successful athletes. To compare and contrast the styles of sports writers and their subjects. They are also just plain good reads about the up-and-coming and the respected legend.



Post NIE Guide Editor | Carol Lange

Post NIE Guide Art Editor | Donna McCullough

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In The Know 

Children’s Literature

Fiction and non-fiction written to instruct and to entertain with the readers’ age, reading level and interests in mind; ages 4-12 is a usual range. Loretta Little Looks BackCondor Comeback, and Music for Tigers are very different examples of children’s literature that were featured in KidsPost.


Deferred Action  An immigration status which the executive branch can grant to illegal immigrants. It is a type of prosecutorial discretionary, limited immigration benefit that allows an individual to remain in the United States for a determined period of time, and it can be revoked at any time.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

An American Immigration policy launched in 2012 by the Obama administration calling for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children. DACA allows young people who were brought illegally to the United States as children, and who meet several key criteria to be considered for temporary relief from deportation or from being placed in removal proceedings. 

Development,Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act

Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, Popularly known as the DREAM Act is a legislative proposal drafted by both Republicans and Democrats. It was created to help undocumented immigrants in the United States, who meet certain requirements, have an opportunity to enlist in the military or go to college and have a path to citizenship, first by being granted conditional residency and then permanent residency.


Dreamers 1) One who dreams; 2) Visionary; 3) Individuals who would have qualified under the DREAM Act are referred to as DREAMers or dreamers

The act of leaving one's countries and moving to another country of which they are not natives, nor citizens, to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take-up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker. When people leave their country to settle permanently in another, they are called migrants or immigrants (from Latin: migrare, wanderer). From the perspective of the country they leave, they are called emigrant or outmigrant.

Young Adult Literature Fiction and non-fiction works for teen or adolescent readers; works that are for a higher reading and maturity level and themes to appeal to experience. Popular YA authors include Markus Zusak, Lauren Oliver and Maureen Johnson as well as R.L. Stine, Louisa May Alcott, Judy Blume and C.S. Lewis.
District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

The District of Columbia has adopted the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics. In addition, DCPS has adopted new learning standards in arts, health and physical education, science, social studies, technology and world languages.


Social Studies. Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View

4. Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations



Academic Content Standards may be found at

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Reading Literature

Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text. Standard Six, Anchor Standard RL6

Kindergarten: With prompting and support, name author and illustrator and define the follow of each in telling the story.

Grade Two: Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

Grade Five: Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

Grade Eight: Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Grades Eleven and Twelve: Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, irony or understatement).


Academic Content Standards may be found at

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

2.4  English. The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of fictional texts.

a)   Make and confirm predictions.

b)   Connect previous experiences to new texts.

c)   Ask and answer questions using the text for support.

d)   Describe characters, setting, and plot events in fiction and poetry.

e)   Identify the conflict and resolution.

f)   Identify the theme.

g)   Summarize stories and events with beginning, middle, and end in the correct sequence.

h)   Draw conclusions based on the text.

i)    Read and reread familiar stories and poems with fluency, accuracy, and meaningful expression. (Grade 2, Reading)


6.5 English. The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of fictional texts, literary nonfiction, and poetry.

a)   Identify the elements of narrative structure, including setting, character, plot, conflict, and theme.

b)   Describe cause and effect relationships and their impact on plot.

c)   Explain how an author uses character development to drive conflict and resolution.

d)   Differentiate between first and third person point-of-view.

e)   Describe how word choice and imagery contribute to the meaning of a text.

f)   Draw conclusions and make inferences using the text for support.

g)   Identify the characteristics of a variety of genres.

h)   Identify and analyze the author’s use of figurative language.

i)    Compare/contrast details in literary and informational nonfiction texts.

j)    Identify transitional words and phrases that signal an author’s organizational pattern.

k)   Use reading strategies to monitor comprehension throughout the reading process.

(Grade 6, Reading)


8.5 English. The student will read and analyze a variety of fictional texts, literary nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

a)   Analyze how authors’ development of characters, conflict, point of view, voice, and tone convey meaning.

b)   Identify cause and effect relationships and their impact on plot.

c)   Explain the development of the theme(s).

d)   Explain the use of symbols and figurative language.

e)   Make inferences and draw conclusions based on explicit and implied information using references to the text for support.

f)   Identify and analyze characteristics within a variety of genres.

g)   Compare/contrast details in literary and informational nonfiction texts.

h)   Compare and contrast the authors’ use of word choice, dialogue, form, rhyme, rhythm, and voice in different texts.

i)    Compare and contrast authors’ styles.

j)    Use reading strategies to monitor comprehension throughout the reading process.

(Grade 8, Reading)


10.4 English. The student will read, comprehend, and analyze literary texts of different cultures and eras.

a)   Make inferences and draw conclusions using references from the text(s) for support.

b)   Analyze the similarities and differences of techniques and literary forms represented in the literature of different cultures and eras. 

c)   Interpret the cultural or social function of world and ethnic literature.

d)   Analyze universal themes prevalent in the literature of different cultures.

e)   Examine a literary selection from several critical perspectives.

f)   Critique how authors use key literary elements to contribute to meaning including, character development, theme, conflict, and archetypes.

g)   Interpret how themes are connected within and across texts.

h)   Explain the influence of historical context on the form, style, and point of view of a literary text(s).

i)    Evaluate how an author’s specific word choices, syntax, tone, and voice shape the intended meaning of the text. 

j)    Compare/contrast details in literary and informational nonfiction texts. 

k)   Compare and contrast how literary devices convey a message and elicit a reader’s emotions.

l)    Compare and contrast character development in a play to characterization in other literary forms.

m)  Use reading strategies to monitor comprehension throughout the reading process.

(Grade 10, Reading)


Academic Content Standards may be found at

Common Core Standards 

Language. L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


Reading: Informational Text. RI.9-10.8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.


CCSS.ELA-History/Social Studies. 11-12.6: Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.


Common Core standards may be found at