IS 19: Fiat Lux Seminar, Images of War in Literature for Children

Fall, 2004

The class meets on the following Mondays:
October 4, October 18, November 8, November 22, and December 6 from 3:00 to 4:45 in GSEIS 245.

Professor Virginia Walter

Drop in office hours: Monday, 1:30 to 2:30, except November 15.

For appointments at other times, please contact Pat Payne at 310-825-8799. Be sure to confirm whether your appointment is in the GSEIS Office or in Moore Hall 2320.


Course description

How do children make sense of war? This course looks at the themes and values about war and peace that are contained in children's literature. We will read and discuss novels and picture books in an effort to understand the messages and information being communicated to children.


Learning objectives:

•  Students will acquire a basic introduction to the ways in which the topic of war is treated in picture books and novels for children, with an emphasis on coverage of World War II.

•  Students will acquire a basic understanding of techniques for sharing books with children.


Required books:

Avi. Don't You Know There's a War On?

M.E. Kerr. Slap Your Sides.

Lois Lowry. Number the Stars.

Robert Westall. The Machine Gunners.

The professor will supply copies of the required books for loan to students in the class.



This course is graded Pass/Nonpass. Students are expected to come to each class prepared to discuss the book assigned for that day. Students must attend at least four of the five scheduled classes and participate fully in class discussions in order to receive a passing grade.


Course outline:

October 4, 2004 Introduction to the course

Children and war

Children and books

Talking about books with children and with each other

Books to be introduced in class:

  • Chana Byers Abells. The Children We Remember.
  • Michael Foreman. War Boy.
  • Junko Morimoto. My Hiroshima.
  • Vladimir Radunsky. Manneken Pis: A Simple Story of a Boy Who Peed on a War.
  • Laura Robb. Music and Drum: Voices of War and Peace, Hope and Dreams.


October 18, 2004 World War II: Hope and Glory

READ AND BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall.

Books to be introduced in class:

  • Louise Borden. The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II.
  • Penny Colman. Where the Action War: Women War Correspondents in World War II.
  • Michael Foreman. War Game.

November 8, 2004
World War II: The horrors of the Holocaust and the atomic bomb

READ AND BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

Books to be introduced in class:

  • Roberto Innocenti and Christophe Gallaz. Rose Blanche.
  • Toshi Maruki. Hiroshima No Pika.
  • Margaret Wild. Let the Celebrations Begin!

November 22, 2004
World War II: The American home front

READ AND BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS Don't You Know There's a War On? by Avi.

Books to be introduced in class:

  • Kathleen Krull. V is for Victory.
  • Milly Lee. Nim and the War Effort.
  • James Stevenson. Don't You Know There's a War On.
  • Yoshiko Uchida. The Bracelet.

December 6, 2004 Anti-war and peace books

READ AND DISCUSS Slap Your Sides by M.E. Kerr.

Books to be introduced in class:

  • Sonia Craddock. Sleeping Boy.
  • Michael Foreman. War and Peas.
  • Walter Dean Myers. Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam.
  • Shelley Moore Thomas. Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace.