I am the head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library. The Center is home to the U.S. Poet Laureate, the only federally-funded position for a literary artist in the country and the most visible position for a poet by far.
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.
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.
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.”
Learn about Zora Neale Hurston’s time in Florida with the Federal Writers project in the May/June 2015 “Sources and Strategies” article in Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies.
While some of George and Lennie’s experiences in John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men are universal like the dream of a place to call home and the need for friendships, others are directly related to the novel’s setting.
Enduring themes, characters, and images from Shakespeare’s writing have long been woven into the fabric of other media and popular culture. Examining relevant primary sources from the collections of the Library of Congress may strengthen student connections to a particular work.
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.
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.
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.