The CYAC Program at the Library of Congress: Summarizing Fifty Years of Children’s Literature

Can you summarize the classic story The Cat in the Hat in one sentence? How about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or A Wrinkle in Time? This is just one small part of what librarians in the Children’s and Young Adults’ Cataloging Program or CYAC (pronounced kahy-ak) at the Library of Congress have been doing for decades. This week, the CYAC Program celebrates their fifty-year anniversary at the Library.

The Américas Award: Bringing Literature to Life with Primary Sources

On Friday, September 18th, 2015, the Library of Congress hosted the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The award, co-sponsored with the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, recognizes work that “authentically and engagingly portrays Latin Americans, Caribbeans, or Latinos in the United States.” These diverse stories can be highlighted and brought to life through the use of primary sources.

Five Questions with Abby Yochelson, Reference Specialist for English and American Literature, Main Reading Room

My all-time favorite teacher was Mrs. Campbell in sixth grade. One of her activities was to have us memorize and recite poetry a couple of times a year. While I was painfully shy back then, I thought the activity was terrific (once my turn was finished)! In our online collections, I really love the copy of Walt Whitman’s poem “Oh Captain, My Captain.” It’s a printed copy but it includes corrections in Whitman’s handwriting with a note to the publisher about “bad perversions.”

The Great Gatsby: Establishing the Historical Context with Primary Sources

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is one of the most often taught in American literature classes. However, the further we move away chronologically from 1922, a time of economic boom following the devastation of World War I, the less students know about this significant time between the Great War and the War to end all Wars.

Edgar Allan Poe: Using Primary Sources from the Library of Congress to Deepen Understanding of “The Raven”

Because of his tendency toward the macabre, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe are frequently associated with Halloween, but his writing has had a far deeper reach than connections to the holiday. As National Poetry Month approaches, students can explore his work and its cultural impact through primary sources from the Library of Congress.

Frederick Douglass: Activist and Autobiographer

Last November, we published a post addressing the controversies associated with Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A recent comment pointed out that Huck’s views on slavery are those of the dominant society of the time. Because the post featured a letter from Frederick Douglass as a supplement to the novel, the commenter wondered “why not present the experiences and views of the oppressed rather than the oppressor?” That struck me as an intriguing question, so here are a few places to start exploring those views and experiences with your students.