Books written for children are among the best-loved and best-remembered of all works of literature. They also provide some of the most important early learning experiences. In recent years, books written for children have attracted increasing interest from scholars and students as well as parents, educators, publishers, and journalists. What kinds of stories do we consider appropriate for children, and why? How have our opinions about this topic changed over time and across different cultures? And how is literacy changing, now that children are exposed not only to books, films, and television, but also to video games and the world wide web?
The interdisciplinary Certificate in Children’s Literature offers undergraduates the opportunity to bring together studies across a broad range of subjects as they contemplate these and other questions pertaining to youth literature and culture. Founded in 1981, the program is designed to meet the individual student’s interests and strengths and fulfills the Arts and Sciences requirement for a related area. The Children’s Literature Certificate provides a useful background for many areas of professional work and study. Many of our students pursue careers in elementary, secondary, and special education, or in information science, child care, or social work. Others students have gone to graduate school in the humanities (English, History, Film Studies) or social sciences (Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology). Recent graduates of our new “Writing Youth Literature” course have gone to internships at Sesame Street Productions and the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in New York City. For more information on the study of children’s literature at the University, see www.childrenslit.pitt.edu.