Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


This survey of children's literature was undertaken to determine if a collection of 150 books meeting a fantasy genre definition could be developed as a basis for a mini-course for Edison Middle School students in Waterloo, Iowa. For this study, fantasy genre literature was defined as the literature of fantastic tales and chimerical tales, having been created by an author and having a world of wonders. Living toys, strange children, witches, supernatural animal figures, mythical worlds, combat between good and evil, journeys through time and space, and the "door" were identified as fantasy genre motifs.

The initial collection of 883 books for this study was derived from a pre-selected list of critical sources and reviewing periodicals recommended in The Children's Catalog, the Junior High School Library Catalog, and The Elementary School Library Collection. Books were eliminated from the initial collection based on the following factors: lack of critical sources, 147; suitability of reading/interest level, 259; format, 45; and availability of books in print, 164.

The researcher read and analyzed every available working title, 258, to determine whether the book met the researcher's definition of the fantasy genre, whether the book contained the fantasy genre motifs, and its readability using the Fry Readability Formula.

Research findings indicated that 173 books met the fantasy genre definition, surpassing the needed 150 titles for the proposed mini-course and establishing the validity of the fantasy genre definition. As predicted, all of the fantasy genre motifs were present in the 173 titles, but no titles contained all the motifs. Only the motif of the mythical worlds was found in every title, making it a legitimate basis for a fantasy genre definition.

Additional research findings showed: 35.5 percent of all toys were female, 90.5 percent of the strange children inhabited the wonder world, 43.6 percent of the witches were female, 45.7 percent of the witches were good, 87.8 percent of the supernatural animal figures were helpers to the persons or characters in performing tasks, 12.2 percent of the animal figures were the means of transport, 23.0 percent of the mythical worlds were parallel to the real world, 77.0 percent of the wonder worlds were separate from the real world, 61.0 percent of the human figures were good, 46.3 percent of the journeys were through time, and 9.3 percent of the "doors" were real doors. These percentages are applicable only to this list of titles and need further testing with additional titles to determine their significance.

A major portion of this study is the annotated bibliography including for each title: full bibliographic information, pages, a symbol coding, and a plot annotation. The symbol coding specifies whether the tale is fantastic or chimerical, what fantasy motifs it contains, and its Fry Readability Level. Appended is a Sliding Scale of Readability.

The researcher concluded that, using the definition and motifs set forth in this study, an annotated bibliography of 150 suitable titles for inclusion in a fantasy genre mini-course for middle school students could be derived.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Library Science

First Advisor

Mary Lou Mc Grew


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ii, 141 pages)