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Children's and Young Adult Literature Research Guide


We have quite a number of critical studies of children's and young adult literature, most of which are not in the reference section (though some are). You will have the best luck finding books of interest if you narrow your search fields.

Subject Searching

Your search for books might start in one of two places...

In both of these resources, you can use a Subject Search. This is very useful in literary research because it allows you to find all the books on an author, and only the books on that author. 

For more information on subject searching, please see the general guide to literature research. 

You can also define your search by format, if you're interested in e-books or films, or by location in the library, which is relevant if you want to limit your search to authoritative reference works, or to juvenile works.

Subject Headings

Authors are usually subjects in the catalog. When you search for authors, remember, you are using a subject search to find books about the author, NOT an author search, which would find books by the author. So, you can do searches like this:

  • Barrie, J. M. (James Matthew), 1860-1937
  • Carroll, Lewis, 1832-1898
  • Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples), 1898-1963
  • Milne, A. A. (Alan Alexander), 1882-1956
  • Pullman, Philip, 1946 - 
  • Rowling, J. K. 

Remember to put the last name first!

You will also see headings that refer to particular types of works pertaining to these authors, such as Characters, Criticism and Interpretation, Interviews and so on.

There are other subject headings you may also find of interest, such as:

  • Children -- Books and reading -- History
  • Children's literature, American -- History and criticism
  • Children's literature -- History and criticism
  • Young adult literature, American -- History and criticism
  • Youth -- Books and reading

Remember to browse, as some of these are further broken down into more specific subjects. For instance, in addition to Children -- Books and reading, you may also see headings like Children -- Books and reading -- United States -- History -- 20th century

Although all of these are real subject headings and you should feel free to use them, there are also many more. This is just a list of examples to help you get started and give you some idea what kinds of searches are possible.


You can use these call numbers to find books about children's literature which are grouped near each other in the library.

Most books on literature are organized by time period, so if you are looking for criticism of a particular author, those will probably be with the books on the literature of the relevant century. 

However, there are also books that analyze children's literature as a category, and these can be found in a few parts of the library: 

  • PN 1008.2 - 1009.5             Children's literature
  • PR 990                                  Children's literature (British)
  • PS 490                                  Children's literature (American)

Since books on the same author or topic are grouped together on the shelf, it is often a good idea to visit a particular call range and see what we have on the shelves.

Other Guides

It's worth your time to look at Suzanne Li's excellent guide to children's literature from an education perspective.

Or, you could check out the other guides to research in literature: