RSU Faculty, Alumni Author Book on Integrating Children’s Books in the College Classroom

A new book by Rogers State University faculty asserts that children’s stories and young adult literature can be useful educational tools in the college classroom.

The book, “Children’s and YA Books in the College Classroom,” is a collection of essays written by RSU faculty, alumni and others who have experienced how children’s stories can apply to college education. The essays examine how concepts used in children’s and young adult literature relate to topics such as biology, politics, computer science, social science, mass media and more.

The book, published earlier this year by McFarland and Co. Publishers, was edited by Dr. Emily Dial-Driver, Professor in the Department of English and Humanities; Dr. Jim Ford, Director of Academic Enrichment and Professor in the Department of English and Humanities; and Dr. Sara Beam, RSU Writing Center Coordinator. Twenty-five RSU faculty, staff and alumni contributed essays to the book, which also includes essays from 10 additional authors in the field of education.

Dial-Driver, whose conversation with a colleague inspired the book, said that despite the effectiveness of using children’s literature in college classrooms, there was a shared, unspoken concern among her peers that the practice would be criticized as unacademic.

“It turns out that many college educators use literature written for children or young adults in their classes,” Dial-Driver said in the book’s preface. “As I discovered and continue to discover, the methods are innovative and interesting and, most important of all, effective.”

Ford believes that studying young adult literature helps college students understand traditional literary techniques such as analysis and reflection. He said it’s easier to teach those skills when the reading material is something the students already understand and enjoy.

“Seemingly simple tales often convey deep truths,” Ford said in the book’s introduction. “While the subjects and the specific works vary, the basic point does not: Children’s literature can enhance the college classroom.”

This is not the first book that RSU faculty members have produced. Dial-Driver and Ford previously worked with Professor Dr. Sally Emmons to produce the 2012 book, “Fantasy Media in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching with Film, Television, Literature, Graphic Novels and Video Games.” The same team, together with Dr. Carolyn Anne Taylor, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, also edited the 2008 book, “The Truth of Buffy: Essays on Fiction Illuminating Reality” based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.

The essays in the “Children’s and YA Books in the College Classroom” written by RSU faculty, staff and alumni include:

  • “Out of the Sandbox” by Dr. Emily Dial-Driver, Professor of English and Humanities
  • “In Appreciation of Mere ‘Horseflesh’” by Dr. Sara N. Beam, RSU Writing Center Coordinator
  • “Magical Persuasion” co-written by Frances E. Morris, Assistant Professor of English and Humanities
  • “Graphic Language (Devices) in the High School Classroom” by Jesse Stallings, a 2007 RSU graduate and English teacher at the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences
  • “Composing a Work That No One Hero Could Compose Alone” co-written by Beam and Holly Clay-Buck, instructor of English and Humanities
  • “The Truth About Native Stories” by Dr. Sally Emmons, Professor of English and Humanities
  • “Shifting Perspectives” by Dr. Hugh Foley, Professor of Fine Arts
  • “The Story, Myth, Legend of Jumping Mouse” by Dr. David Newcomb, Associate Professor of Psychology, Sociology and Criminal Justice
  • “Happy Hedgehogs Happy Students” by Dr. Gioia Kerlin, Assistant Professor of Spanish
  • “Children’s Books from Serious, Adult Concepts” co-written by Dr. Laura Gray, Professor of English and Humanities, and Gary Moeller, Professor and Head of the Department of Fine Arts
  • “Image and Text in ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’” by Dr. Michael McKeon, Associate Professor of Fine Arts
  • “Trees, Not Poles” by Dr. Peter Macpherson, John W. Norman Chair in Business Information Technology and Professor of Applied Technology
  • “Freedom” by Dr. Carolyn Taylor, Distinguished Professor of Political Science
  • “Thinking About the Unthinkable” by Dr. Paul Hatley, Associate Professor of History and Political Science
  • “Biology Tales” by Dr. Sue Katz Amburn, Professor of Biology
  • “Timber!!!” by Dr. Francis A. Grabowski III, Associate Professor of English and Humanities
  • “Growling Bears” co-written by Weldon Lee Williams, Assistant Professor of Communications, and Dr. David Blakely, Associate Professor of Communications
  • “Girls and Boys Stay In with Media” by Dr. Juliet Evusa, Associate Professor, Greg Kunz Endowed Chair of Communications, and Assistant Director for Academic Enrichment
  • “Sources of Morality” by Kimberly Qualls, a 2014 RSU graduate
  • “My Lady Hero” by H. J. Bates, a 2014 RSU graduate
  • “Tulsa’s Coming-of-Age Stories” by Jessica Limke, a 2015 RSU graduate
  • “Into the Swamp” by Davey Rumsey, a former RSU student and worship pastor at

Beam also wrote the epilogue of the book.

The book is available for sale through the RSU Bookstore, major booksellers and online retailers.