Open Textbook Review:The Inside, Outside, and Upside Downs of Children's Literature: From Poets and Pop-ups to Princesses and Porridge
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The resource is available here: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/childrens_lit_textbook/
Jenifer J. Schneider’s endearing appreciation of children’s literature overflows within the context of this textbook, as she highly encourages reading for immediate rewards. Schneider offers a personal invitation in chapters one and two to read for comfort, personal insight, and the sheer pleasure of engagement in books. Schneider’s angle of writing about children’s literature first presents an open discussion of personal preferences, to include the benefits and rewards of reading—to highly proclaim that what one reads must be worth it. Reading children’s literature should be engaging. Schneider leads the reader through a narrative to openly question and discuss several key reading benefits to include emotional healing with immediate rewards, increased comprehension of language and thinking, enlightenment of personal insight and finally comfort. Her discussion continues toward engaged verses unengaged reading, reading for pleasure, and reading for necessity. Schneider speaks openly of quality, elements, and taste with personal response of children’s literature and how individual taste and reflects a higher literacy merit. The remaining chapters unfold as any other course text in children’s literature might, to include the nuts and bolts of children’s literature by history, awards and associations, genres, and finally teaching with children’s books. Each chapter is filled with an overabundance of creative activities, resources, and internet site to highlight children’s literature data base links for further study. What was most impressive is the extensive knowledge in the history of children’s literature. This textbook in all 489 pages contains a plethora of resources and a key word index to extend learning.
In this textbook, Schneider covers a massive of content children’s literature, a powerful subject matter with a professional and personal response to all. It is obvious to the reader that the author is immersed in the application of providing more than what is normally found in children’s literature textbooks. One suggestion that came to mind was to use her professional insight and opinions as a final thoughts leading to an author’s summary, or in the last chapters after the content is delivered. It is important for readers to experience this material impartially, in order to form their own opinions or beliefs when reading. The book begins with the author’s signature and zest, her passion and opinion is revealed first -hand, which reads a bit subjectively. As meaningful and encouraging as one may find the opening chapters, it may be more beneficial to the reader to delay the author’s opinions until a final summary is offered. Content accuracy is noted in chapters 2-16 and beyond to the references and key word index. This is a creative, beautiful body of work, as there is high regard to recognize the abundance of resources and professional insight included.
Content relevance of this text is not questionable, nor will it ever become obsolete within time. Content is useful for higher education— however it is noted firsthand that the longevity of this text is questionable in its present state. This text is written and offered for every profession imaginable, yet not for teacher preparation, as the author plainly states that no lesson plans would be found in this text. Sharing this limitation might be a downfall for some higher education course offerings who use this content for teacher preparation. This is not to say that other professions cannot be included, this is only to say, why not include a most valuable player in the children’s literature resource pool? Teachers need this content information to teach young children. Do not exclude them, include them. Most content is up-to-date, with specific regard to some of the internet links. There is a need to update all links in the text. A clean, revised copy of this original book is necessary to avoid making the text obsolete within a short period of time. Therefore, in its original format, the text is written and/or arranged in a way that it would be an easy revision to link the necessary updates with new links that work for the user.
Overall, the text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used. However, there are several reference points that did not resonate with the overall review of the text. It was unclear to the reader how the connection of “Fifty Shades of Grey” was relevant to children’s literature. This reference point was made several times noted. It was received as unnecessary overkill of content, somewhat abrasive for this abundance of content. I offer a personal editing opinion noted that all content in the book was more than ample to support the extension of knowledge of origins and genres of children’s literature. For clarity, it is suggested that these reference points are unnecessary to provide content background to the context of the book.
At first glance the textbook is offered in a creative, innovative format to support the abundance of resources provided. Schneider is a master at creative textbook offering, once the reader follows the author’s rhythm, a quick beauty of understanding unfolds. Schneider’s writing is meaningful and presented to inspire, encourage, and support reading of children’s literature for the audience. This author embraces the aesthetics of a great wordsmith, her word choices reflect personal insight of engaged reading. This is a highly motivating factor that you do not read in a normal textbook offering. It’s quite refreshing to read and see. Not only is the text creative, it is informative, a beautiful blend of narrative and informative text internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
Noted above, this textbook displays a creative format that is not found in most university textbooks. Once the reader becomes accustomed to the writer’s creative, yet scholarly style of writing, the text is more manageable. The chapters are readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within a college course. Review of the first two chapters show a tendency for the text to be a bit overly self-referential. Revision suggestions are offered in the content accuracy section above. The chapter alignment can be easily reorganized and realigned in a summary, or final thoughts section with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
Organization Structure Flow
There is reason to believe that rearrangement or a revised scope and sequence of how the book is presented, might lend a more favorable offering for the reader. Topics in the text are presented mostly in clear fashion, however some of the narrative might overpower the content in the first two chapters. It is suggested to revisit the opening subjective narrative as a final thought chapter summary at closing of the book. This is one way to honor the original insight of this textbook, to utilize the immediate reward of placing language and thinking of reading the content of children’s literature within this textbook in the minds of the reader.
The text is mostly free of significant interface issues with the exception of the revision of internal links. The faulty links lead to dead end resources, and navigation problems. There is no apparent distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader.
Through review of this text, it appears well written, edited, and free of grammatical error.
Cultural relevance is an area of suggested expansion. Beginning with Chapter 3, how to recognize a well written book, through illustrations, genres, history and trends, all chapters through chapter 18 might be revised with a cultural relevant section. Teaching with children’s books might be expanded with a significant cultural, social justice element of understanding the relevance of children’s literature as connected to life. The limited portions of cultural text do not appear to be culturally insensitive or offensive in any way, however these sections are limited and do not speak to all cultures throughout the textbook. A revisions or rewrite of the content to demonstrate clear examples to include more culturally relevant resource connections for all inclusively, might be one way to improve the whole textbook. In fact, if there are clear examples shown in each chapter that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds this would enrich and broaden the content/scope of the textbook.