Children's Literature Web Pages
Created and Maintained by
Dr. Mary Ellen Van Camp
Copyright © 1997-2004 Mary Ellen Van Camp. All Rights Reserved.
and the Real World
Dr. Mary Ellen Van Camp
Ball State University
Another page of
Once Upon A Time ...
A Children's Literature Web Site
(This "Once Upon A Time" link will take you to this site's main page for Children's Literature.)
The following annotated bibliography provides book recommendations and information for teachers, parents, librarians and others who regularly select books for children. The books listed here are those which have won awards or have been reviewed and recommended for children of different ages by leaders in the field of Children's Literature.
In addition, this section of the Children's Literature Web
Site provides links to other web sites with information about the topics
addressed in the annotated books.
The list may change periodically, but over time will include some books for pre-readers, other books for young readers, and some books which are recommended only for older readers.
At present the bibliography focuses on informational and picture story books for children in grade 3 and up.
Bunting, Eve. Train to Somewhere. Illustrated by Ronald Himler. Clarion, 1996.
This historical fiction picture storybook is based on actual events from the 1880's to the 1920's when approximately 100,000 homeless children were transported by train from New York City orphanages to be placed with families in midwestern towns across the United States. Bunting's moving story focuses on Marianne, a thirteen-year-old girl who is the last to be chosen from a group of children riding one of the orphan trains. As with several other books by Bunting and Himler, the ramifications of a significant social problem are illuminated through the focus on a fictional child and adult. For literature study, the book is an excellent choice for instruction in characterization. For further instruction, the story may serve as a springboard to an internet search for information about the real orphan trains.
If you are interested in more information about the real orphan trains, click one of the following links.
Orphan Trains of Kansas: A site, formerly found at the University of Kansas , created by Connie Dipasquale and Susan Stafford, provided a series of articles about some of the real orphan train riders. If anyone has the current link for that site, please email me with the URL
The Orphan Trains: A PBS website about their orphan train program produced by WGBH/Boston and aired on The American Experience series.
An Orphan Train bibliography from PBS and The American Experience
A transcript of the PBS program
of the program
Another well-researched book about the orphan train riders:
Warren, Andrea. Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
In this non-fiction book, Warren recounts the true story of Alton Lou Clement, who traveled from an orphanage in Watertown, New York in 1926 to become Lee Clement Nailling, the adopted son of Ben and Ollie Nailling in Manchester, Texas. Lee Nailling's story is especially moving because he reveals his feelings of loss when he is separated in childhood from his sister and several brothers. The reader also will see Lee's joy at finding and being reunited with some of his brothers again in 1984. In addition to the information about Lee Nailling, the author also presents brief stories of the lives of several other orphan train riders. Warren's book is notable because, in addition to the evocative personal stories, it provides an overview of the problem of homeless children in New York City and elsewhere over a period of nearly eighty years. Warren presents historical information about the Children's Aid Society directed by Charles Loring Brace in New York City and explains how he began the "placing-out" program that led to the American orphan trains. The orphan trains and their riders make for interesting multifaceted research.
Fisher, Leonard Everett. Ellis Island:
Gateway to the New World. Illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher. Photos
provided by the National Park Service.
New York: Holiday House, 1986.
In Ellis Island, prolific author and illustrator Leonard Everett Fisher provides an historical account of the most famous immigration center in the world. From the 1890's to the 1950's, 15 million immigrants to America passed through the gates of Ellis Island in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Fisher recounts their journey and reveals their fears as they were examined to determine who was fit to enter the country. Millions of living Americans can trace their family lines to ancestors who arrived in this country via Ellis Island. Fisher tells the island's story with actual photographs from the National Park Service historical collection and with his own inimitable scratchboards.
For those who would like an introduction to Ellis Island, click on the following link.
Ellis Island Home Page
: This page will also take you to information about the Statue of Liberty.
Spier, Peter. The Legend of New Amsterdam. Doubleday, 1979.
Spier's retelling of the legend of Crazy Annie will appeal to many children. As they read of Annie's strange behavior after her husband died, they will learn about the story that grew up about her. They will also be introduced to an historically authentic rendering of the settlement and growth of New Amsterdam, the town that became New York City. The book offers front endpapers which suggest what New York City might have looked like in the early 1500's and back endpapers which present a well-drawn map of New Amsterdam (circa 1660) with a listing of the inhabitants at the time. Spier's research for this picture storybook may reflect his interest in his own ancestral history. A careful examination of the illustrations will support that claim as the reader finds tombstones in the Heere Straet cemetery with the name Spier. The references to the buildings such as the Dutch Reformed Church of St. Nicholas, and the towns of Beverwyck and Bruecklen also reflect the careful research that contributed to Spier's creation of the book.
Although the legend of Crazy Annie may be entirely fictional, there really was an Annetje Jans Bogardus . According to one genealogist, her full name was Anneke Jans Webber Roeloffson Bogardus. If Dutch names are unfamiliar to you, you need to know that Annetje and Anneke are merely different spellings for the same name.
In the New Amsterdam story, Peter Spier also mentions a carpenter named Hendrick Spiers. If you would like to read about a real Hendrick Janzsen Spier , who lived in New Amsterdam in the 1600's, click on his name.
Van Leeuwen, Jean. Across the Wide
Dark Sea: The Mayflower Journey. Illustrated by Thomas B. Allen. New
York: Dial Books for
Young Readers, 1995.
Based on historical fact, this picture story book is a fictional narrative of the Mayflower journey in 1620 from England to what would become Plymouth Plantation. The narrator is nine-year-old Love Brewster, who is traveling on the famous ship with his family. The reader meets the boy's father and mother,William and Mary, and his younger brother, Wrestling. As Love recounts the voyage, he describes its cramped conditions and frequent dangers,but also illuminates the sense of mission that the pilgrims felt in their journey to an unknown land. The illustrations by Thomas B. Allen, rendered in colored pencils, charcoal, and pastels, capture both the fears and joys the voyagers faced throughout their time at sea and after their arrival in their new land. Though the narrative is fictional, the reader should know that Love Brewster was a real boy who was a passenger on the Mayflower, who grew up in Plymouth, married, and had four children of his own. His descendants survive to the present day, and there are many who can trace their ancestry to the Brewster family through the records of the Mayflower society.
If you would like to learn more about the journey of the Mayflower,
or learn the names of the original Mayflower
passengers, pick a link.
There is also a web page which provides a history of the Mayflower ship itself.
Here are some additional book titles with links that provide you with more information, either about the book itself, or its author or illustrator, or about a related topic.
The Buck Stops Here :
The "Children's Literature and the Real World"
were created on March 27, 1997.
The section was revised on November 21, 2002.
Copyright © 1997-2001 Mary Ellen Van Camp. All rights reserved.
If you have comments or suggestions, email me at
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