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Literature for Children and Young Adults

The PhD program in Literature for Children and Young Adults has been acknowledged as one of the strongest in the country. Faculty and students are nationally and internationally recognized scholars in many literary genres. Students in this program pursue disciplined and rigorous inquiries in the history, evolution and current trends of children’s and young adult literature.

Ohio State is the only school in the country that has allowed me to combine my interests in both children’s literature and disability studies. The ability to complement work in the program for Literature for Children and Young Adults with work in other areas is one of the program’s greatest strengths. Another is working with faculty who are accessible, approachable and excited about supporting our research. We are also a very tightly knit group and the camaraderie makes the experience of being in graduate school much less overwhelming and intimidating than it might otherwise be.
Leigh Neithardt, PhD Candidate, 2015
Literature for Children and Young Adults


The Literature for Children and Young Adults program offers graduate students opportunities to pursue deep study in the history and evolution of children’s and young adult literature. Such study include:

  • literary theory and its links with multicultural and international children’s and young adult literature;
  • what role children’s literature plays in understanding the broader contexts of literacy as a learning process, a text and the critical application of interpreting, exploring and investigating to support learning; as well as
  • the study of how children and young adults read and respond to this literature.

Students study literature as an art form that borrows from and refracts historic and contemporary discourses. They also closely analyze social life and the natural world, social relationships and narratives.

Additional focus is spent on the analyses of written and visual forms, genres and content in children’s and young adult literature. Students also explore the meaning of this literature for youth and adults in and out of school settings. Students also are especially interested in theoretical lenses that inform the relationships between texts and readers in and outside the school setting.

The course of study also provides opportunities for exploring topics that include (but are not limited to) genres such as:

  • picture books;
  • fantasy and poetry for children and young adults;
  • relationships between popular culture and children’s and young adult literature;
  • censorship issues;
  • the selection and evaluation of literature for children and young adults;
  • providing opportunities for students to respond to literature through creative writing, drama, and art; and
  • exploring the integration of literature throughout classroom content areas.

Courses focusing on literacy education stress the importance of instilling motivation for reading through the holistic use of quality literature; creating meaningful and aesthetic reading experiences that move beyond programmed, impersonal reading instruction.

Students and faculty in the Literature for Children and Young Adults program are widely praised for their expertise in picture book forms, multicultural literature (African American, Latino and Native American), international literature, poetry and literature for young and middle school-aged children and for young adults. Current students combine their work in the program with work in disability studies, gender and sexuality, history, and narrative theory and are researching topics like child-authored novels, the Disney Princess line of costumes, the representation of food in picture books and young adult dystopian texts.

The program is designed to provide pathways to additional areas of study in the Department of Teaching and Learning such as Reading and Literacy in Early and Middle Childhood and Adolescent, Post-Secondary and Community Literacies. Students also may choose to complete an Interdisciplinary Specialization.

Career Paths

Our graduates start careers in various roles in academia. Particularly, in colleges ofeducation at universities teaching literacy and literature to elementary and secondary teachers. Others serve in colleges and universities in English departments.


Deadline to Apply: 
December 1
Program Start: 
Autumn, Spring or Summer semesters
Prerequisites/Pre-major Requirements: 
Master’s degree. For GRE requirements, please contact TLAS at
Minimum Program Hours: 
80 (up to 30 hours can transfer)

Minimum course Requirements: 2 department core courses (8 hours), 8 specialization courses (24 hours), research methods (9 hours), research apprenticeship (6 hours), dissertation (6 hours), breadth requirement (3 hours)
Other requirements: Research apprenticeship, candidacy exam, dissertation

View the Curriculum Sheet


Michelle Abate, PhD, Professor and LCYA Convener
Caroline Clark, PhD, Professor
Patricia Enciso, PhD, Professor
Jonda C. McNair, PhD, Charlotte S. Huck Endowed Professor of Children's Literature
Linda Parsons, PhD, Associate Professor
Lisa Patrick, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor and Marie Clay Endowed Chair
Cynthia Tyson, PhD, Professor
Christine Warner, Associate Professor
Affiliated Faculty
Mollie Blackburn, PhD, Professor
Brian Edmiston, PhD, Professor