Skip to Main Content

Children's Literature

Tools and resources to assist research/assignments on children's literature

Databases and Journals

Finding Scholarly/Peer-reviewed Articles

Project Muse
  • Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature
  • Children's Literature
  • Children's Literature Association Quarterly
  • Jeunesee: Young People, Texts, Cultures
  • The Lion and the Unicorn

 Articles in Project Muse are full-text

Modern Language Association (MLA) International Bibliography

  • Key children's literature journals cited include: Children's Literature in Education and the ALAN Review
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)
Full-text coverage of scholarly research in all areas of education, including curriculum instruction, administration, policy, funding and related social issues. Topics covered include all levels of education from early childhood to higher education and all educational specialties, such as multilingual education, health education and testing.

Additional Indexes, Databases and Other Reference Resources

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

CLCD provides over 2.1 million Children's and Young Adult Literature records containing more than 500,000 professional reviews of children's books, multimedia and audio books (aggregated from 42 sources). The database provides over 1.6 million entries including 650,000 national, state, and international award entries dating back to 1922. Also included are 330,000 and author illustrator links.

Children’s Picture Book Database at Miami University


Database of Award Winning Children’s Literature

ALAN Review

The ALAN Review (TAR) is a peer-reviewed (refereed) journal published by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN). It is devoted solely to the field of literature for young adults

Children and Libraries

The official, refereed journal of the Association for Library Service to Children. Published quarterly, it primarily serves as a vehicle for continuing education for librarians working with children, and showcases current scholarly research and practice in library service to children and significant activities and initiatives of the Association.

Children's Literature

Children's Literature publishes theoretically-based articles that address key issues in the field. Each volume includes articles, essays, and book reviews. Children's Literature is the annual publication of the Children's Literature Association (ChLA) and the Modern Language Association Division on Children's Literature.

Children's Literature Association Quarterly

Children's Literature Association Quarterly publishes first-rate scholarship in children's literature studies. Each issue features an editorial introduction, juried articles about research and scholarship in children's literature, and book reviews.

Children's Literature in Education

Children's Literature in Education has been a key source of articles on all aspects of children's literature for more than 50 years, featuring important interviews with writers and artists. It covers classic and contemporary material, the highbrow and the popular, and ranges across works for very young children through to young adults.

Research on Diversity in Youth Literature

Research on Diversity in Youth Literature (RDYL) is a peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal hosted by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program and University Library. RDYL is published twice a year; summer issues are themed and winter issues are unthemed.

International Research in Children's Literature

Primarily focuses on applications of cultural and literary theories, comparative literatures, and the production and reception of children's literature as a world literature. Widely international in scope, the journal addresses the diverse intellectual currents of this constantly expanding subject area.

Journal of Children's Literature

The Journal of Children's Literature is a refereed journal devoted to teaching and scholarship for the field of children's literature. It is the product of the Children's Literature Assembly of NCTE and is published twice annually.

Language Arts

Issues discuss both theory and classroom practice, highlight current research, and review children’s and young adolescent literature, as well as classroom and professional materials of interest to language arts educators.

Lion and the Unicorn

The Lion and the Unicorn, an international theme- and genre-centered journal, is committed to a serious, ongoing discussion of literature for children. The journal's coverage includes the state of the publishing industry, regional authors, comparative studies of significant books and genres, new developments in theory, the art of illustration, the mass media, and popular culture

School Library Journal

School Library Journal is the premiere publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens. A source of quality journalism and reviews for more than 60 years, SLJ produces award-winning features and news coverage on: literacy, best practices, technology, education policy and other issues of interest to the school library and greater educator community. We evaluate a broad range of resources, from books and digital content to databases, in 6000+ reviews published annually.

These digital collections feature full-text children's literature books and manuscript material.

British Library's Children's Literature Collection

Here are some research topics you might be interested in:

1. Compare books to the movies that were made from them. 

2. Compare American and British editions of the same book. 
(i.e. The Dangerous Book for Boys, the novels of Jacqueline Wilson, the Harry Potter books

3. It used to be thought that novels written for children or young adults had to follow a chronological plot or be told from one point of view. How have those theories changed over the years and why do you think they changed? What books were influential as examples of the contemporary view? 
(i.e. Chronology: The True Meaning of Smekday. Point of view: The View from Saturday, The Book of Fred

4. Write about children's and young adult books with ambiguous endings. 

5. What picture books present subplots in the illustrations that are not referred to in the texts?  Are there common themes among these subplots? 

6. Write about tie-in products and their relationship to children's books (see Daniel Hade's "Storyselling" article in The Horn Book, September 2002). When did marketing toys and other items with books begin? Are books now just marketing devices?

7. Books by celebrities: are there any good ones? What effect do these have on other authors? 

8. Ethnicity/gender of authors: should Caucasians be able to about Native Americans? Women about men? Can the reader tell if a man is writing under a woman's name or vice versa? What about Virginia Euwer Wolff's novels? What race are her characters? What gender?

9. Describe the history of multiculturalism in children's literature.

10. Write a history of the Coretta Scott King award. How and why did it get started? Compare this to the history of the Pura Belpré award.

11. Compare award-winning books over time. How have Newbery award winners changed? 

12. Study the history of the portrayal of a particular group such as women, Muslims, African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, children, the elderly, the disabled, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) etc., in 20th century children's literature.

13. Compare and contrast books written about September 11th. 

14. Give a history of critical reaction to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series and the way it treats native Americans. Compare these books to the Birchbark series by Louise Erdrich. Consider reviews by Debbie Reese.

15. Give a history of the movement to encourage boys to read more. 

16. Compare book reviews for the same titles in publications in the fields of library science, education, and English.  What other professions review children's books? 

17. Illustrations: our collection emphasizes cat books, the Alice books by Lewis Carroll, and Oz books. What roles do cats play in children's books? How is Alice depicted by different artists from different countries? How have Oz illustrations changed over the years?

18. Changing formats: describe e-books, zines, computer games, audio books, graphic novels as they relate to children's literature. Is listening to a book the same as reading it? Consider the impact of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

19. Write a history of graphic novels. Compare manga to American titles. Show manga influence on American titles. 
(i.e. Little Lit: Strange Stories for Strange Kids, The Story of the Trojan War, Maus, Making up Megaboy, Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I learned). 

20. Write a history of how a controversial topic (violence, sex education, homosexuality, self-mutilation, drug use) has been treated in children's and young adult literature. 
(i.e. Making up Megaboy, Monster, The Rag and Bone Shop, Monday Redux

21. Compare the books of controversial authors who write on similar topics such as Judy Blume, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and Jacqueline Wilson

22. Write a history of censorship as it applies to children's or young adult literature. Which subjects get censored? Do these change over time? 

23. Describe the current trend of young adult novels in free verse. Why are these so popular with readers? 

24. Describe the trend of picture books for young adult readers discussing titles like The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo, It's Perfectly Normal: A Book About Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, War Boy, Lincoln: A Photobiography, Cathedral, etc. 

25. Describe and compare fictional series in which the novels get longer and more complex as characters age. 
(i.e. Betsy-TacyHarry PotterLittle House series)

26. St. Nicholas magazine. The Arne Nixon Center has a long run of this historical publication for children. How does it compare to current magazines written for children? Check the St. Nicholas index for other possible topics. 

27. Compare the same fairy tale as told in different cultures. 

28. Study young adult novels based on fairy tales: what kind of changes are made in the stories of books like The Rose and the Beast, Coraline, Ella Enchanted, Spindle's End, or I was a Rat, to make them into novels? 

29. Why do many novels use Oz as a theme? Compare this use in Oz-themed books like The Book of Fred, Harry Sue, The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls, The Sisters Grimm (series). Or compare Oz spin-offs like WickedWas, Son of a Witch, and Drama! The Four Dorothys

30. Write a history of the critical reaction to the works of L. Frank Baum. How has this changed over time?

31. Write about the critical reaction to The Secret Garden. When did this book become a classic? 

32. How have biographies changed over the years? This topic should address the issues of fictionalized dialogue and picture book biographies. What about The Poet Slave of Cuba? Is this a biography? 

33. Compare and contrast several different biographies of the same person: Marian Anderson, Ben Franklin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Beatrix Potter, Woody Guthrie, J.K. Rowling, César Chávez, Mother Teresa. 

34. Compare an autobiography to a biography of the same person. 

35. Compare fictional treatments of the experiences of various immigrant groups by comparing titles like Behind the Mountains, Esperanza Rising, Flight to Freedom, Dead Man's Gold and Other Stories.

36. Write a history of children's and young adult books that treat the experience of Japanese-Americans forced into camps in World War II. 

37. Compare coming of age novels like Little Women, Before We were Free, Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, Slam (Nick Hornby), Slam!(Walter D. Myers)Angus,Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson.

38. Compare teenagers/humorous approach in different countries: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 (England), comic strip "Zits" (America).

39. How are mental health issues depicted in children's and young adult literature? 
(i.e. Catalyst, A Corner of the Universe, Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy, Hush)

40. Compare books about bullying. How have these changed over the years? 
(i.e. Ironman: a NovelThe Contender, Drowning Anna, Crash, Give a Boy a Gun, The Pigman and Me)

41. Compare Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones to Gary Soto's The Afterlife

42. Fantasy worlds: compare Alice in Wonderland, Oz series, Harry Potter series, Narnia series, Tolkien books, Pullman books, etc. 

43. Write a history of illustration techniques used in children's books.