Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX)

 - Class of 1982

Page 194 of 424

 

Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX) online yearbook collection, 1982 Edition, Page 194
Page 194



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Children's literature -- not for children onl "Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after." Nursery rhymes, nonsense verses, poetry and limericks were not the usual subjects discussed in English classes at ACU, but to Wilma Marshall and her students in Literature for Children and Transi- tional Reading they were a familiar topic. Mrs. Marshall, an assistant professor of English, taught students how to teach literature to children, and her approach to the subject was unique. Assignments for the class varied from designing a cover for a children's book to reading a favorite childhood story to the class. And an unsuspecting student might have been surprised as she recited nursery rhymes, nonsense verses and poetry with ease. Her excitement was ob- vious as she introduced subjects like Zeus and the gods or the work of Maurice Sendak, a popular children's author and illustrator. And students realized she was fond of the topic. Throughout the course she often said, "You've got to understand why childrenis literature is impor- tant and where its origins lie if you,re going to teach the subjectf, She said it was important to understand children and the ways that literature could work for them. Mrs. Marshall received her undergraduate degree from ACU and has done graduate and postgraduate work at several universities in Texas and one in Kan- sas. Although her degree was in English, she did part of her graduate work solely on the subject of children's literature. She said children's literature sometimes is misunderstood. 'gSome people don't take literature for children seriously because they feel they have outgrown the subjectf' she said. S'And they must understand there are differences between literature for children and literature for adults." She also said that once students were aware of those differences, they could begin to appreciate the value of children's literature. The class was interesting, not only because of the subject material, but because of Mrs. Marshall's class presentations, her sense of humor and her en- l90 Faculty Feature joyment of the topic. It was not unusual to spend the entire class period reading childrenis books and then talking about which was the favorite and why. Her collection of children's books was extensive, and she often brought with her carts of books from her personal collection so members of the class could look through the books and become familiar with the authors and artists and their individual trademarks. In most of the class lectures, Mrs. Marshall em- phasized the importance of knowing where the nursery rhymes and poetry originated, and for what purpose they were introduced into the existing society. For example, some of the most popular nursery rhymes that originated in England were composed for adult audiences and had two meanings - one for the adults of that time-period and one for todayis children. She also said that some of the favorite pieces of literature for children had political over- tones during their time period. She spent several class periods talking about a trip to Europe where she was able to visit many of the countries where much of the literature for children has come from. And she had a slide presentation ac- companying each lecture, although she laughingly prefaced each presentation with an apology for her photographic abilities. Mrs. Marshall went on the tour with a chi1dren's literature group during the summer of 1980. It was a month-long study tour arranged by a professor from Fort Hayes State University in Kansas. The tour included stops in 77 cities throughout countries such as Luxembourg, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Ireland, England and Iceland, she said. "The trip was one of the most outstanding things of my life other than my marriage and family, of coursef' she said. "It was a frightening experience at the beginning of the tour because I did not know anyone in the group. I was the Texas girl who had never been past California or Illinois." - Suzetta Nutt Opposite page: Wilma M arshall

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