Western Libraries

ENGL 2033E Children's Literature

Children's Literature

Welcome and Introduction

This guide outlines basic research strategies for Children's Literature.  Use this guide in order to learn how to find reference sources, books and articles using the library website.

1) Identify Key Concepts

Sample research question:

Consider the role of the friendship in Anne of Green Gables.  What is the relationship between Anne's friendships and her imaginative world? 

When presented with a research question, identify the key concept (or concepts) outlined in the question.  For instance, friendship and imagination are both important components of the sample research question. 

Once you have identified topics for further investigation, read (and re-read) the novel, paying special attention to lines and passages that relate to your research question.  

*Note:  Before you look for secondary sources, please ensure that you have developed your own ideas and opinions about the text.  While you may draw upon secondary sources for further insight, you should not merely reiterate the ideas of others.  You need to develop a strong thesis based on your original thoughts.

2) Finding Secondary Sources

After you gain a thorough understanding of the text, consult secondary research sources, includingreference materialsbooks and articles, in order to gather contextual information and to gain an understanding of how literary scholars have treated the text.

*Note:  Before you proceed with your research, please note that you need to think critically about the sources that you are using.  Please visit this tutorial in order to learn more about evaluating sources.  Also, you may disagree with opinions expressed by literary critics or you may use your own ideas in order to further their arguments.

Start with the library website: www.lib.uwo.ca and the English Program Guide.

*If you are working off campus, log-in in order to access our electronic resources.

Background Information: Reference Sources

Use reference sources (dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.) in order to find background information about a text or author.  Go to the library website and use the reference tab in order to find online or print reference sources (Weldon's print reference section is on the first floor).

Suggested Reference Sources:

Dictionary of Literary Biography

Literature Criticism Online

Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature

Finding Books

:Once you have a clear understanding of the text, consult academic books and articles in order find key critical interpretations by English Literature scholars.  

Books are often a good starting point because they offer a general examination of a given topic.  To find books at Western Libraries, consult our OMNI Catalogue.

Start with an ADVANCED SEARCH in OMNI.  

To find books about Anne of Green Gables: 

  • CHANGE THE SEARCH TYPE from "Any Field" to "Subject" and enter the title Anne of Green Gables
  • CHANGE THE NEXT DROP-DOWN from "contains" TO "is (exact)" and hit SEARCH
  • SCROLL DOWN to see your results

To find copies of Anne of Green Gables, in an Advanced Search:

  • CHANGE THE SEARCH TYPE from "Any Field" to "Title: and enter the title Anne of Green Gables
  • LEAVE THE NEXT DROP-DOWN as "contains"  and hit SEARCH
  • SCROLL DOWN to see your results

A search for books about Anne of Green Gables produced the following results:

To locate a book, click on the title. 

Find the library where this book is located under "Location.'  "DBW stack" means that this title is at Weldon library.  According to the status (under "Currently") the book is not checked out.  The "Call Number" helps you locate the book on the shelf. 

Finding Articles

You can find academic journal articles using specialized databases.  Like a general search engine (think Google) databases help you locate information.  However, library databases are intended to help you find scholarly articles written by academics.  (Uncertain about scholarly sources?  Visit the Weldon Research Guide about Scholarly Journals.)

To find articles, consult one of the following databases:

MLA International Bibliography


Literature Online

Find more databases in the English Program Guide.

*Try to do an "Advanced Search" rather than a "Basic Search."  Advanced searches often produce more accurate results.

As you conduct your research, return to your key concept(s).  Think of your search terms.  What words can you use in order to find articles relating to your research question?  For instance, we can consider synonyms for friendship (Anne in Anne of Green Gables uses terms like "kindred spirits" and "bosom friends").  We can also focus our research on specific types of friendship in the novel, for instance, friendship between women.

*By placing an asterisk next to "friend" the database will search for articles containing any of the following words that begin with "friend":  friends, friendship, friendly.  You can use this strategy with many words including Canad* (Canada, Canadian), author (authors, authorial, authority), etc.

Style Guides and Citing

Avoid plagarism! Citation and style guides help you properly credit secondary sources.

Visit the Western Libraries Style Guides page for more information about specific citation styles (eg. MLA).

Interlibrary Loans (RACER)

RACER is an online Interlibrary Loan system used to search for material and place requests. To access RACER you must have an account. To create your account, you need to register. If you have already registered, simply login. Please keep in mind that your University ID number is used as your login and your password is created by you.