The School Collection: Children's Literature at the Education and Social Science Library
The School Collection: Children's Literature at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library

Researching Children's and Young Adult Literature

General Information: Locating Resources:

For further assistance, feel free to Ask-A-Librarian!

General Information

About the School Collection

The School (S)-Collection at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was created in 1941 with an initial collection of approximately 3000 titles. Since 1980, the collection has been housed in room 106 of the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL). The S-Collection consists of 152,000 cataloged volumes of children's and young adult literature. The S-Collection is one of the most comprehensive collections of children's literature in the nation, second only to the Library of Congress.

Location and Organization

The most current and most frequently used materials are located in Room 112 of the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL). To get to the S-Collection, after entering SSHEL North (Room 100, Main Library), walk to the back of the room and turn left and walk through the doorway. Most of the S-Collection material is located on the right (north) side of the room. Journals and award winning books are located on the left in the center of the room.

All books in the S-Collection have an S in their call number. Further shelving information is as follows:

  • SE. - picture book/easy reader; located on east wall
  • S.# - non-fiction; located on perimeter of S-Collection
  • S.letter - longer fiction; located in center of room
  • SB.letter of subject's last name - biography; located immediately following longer fiction
  • Reference materials and journals are located immediately opposite the windows

Most materials in the S-Collection circulate for two weeks. Exceptions include the reference collection, which is non-circulating, and the S-Collection journals, which circulate for 2 hours/students and 24 hours/faculty.

Because of the size of the collection, many materials are located in SSHEL Storage and SSHEL's remote storage location. SSHEL's remote storage location is listed in the online catalog as "SSHEL - Oak St Facility (request only)". SSHEL Storage is located in the southwest corner of the 1st floor of the Main Library, while the Oak Street Facility is located west of central campus. The online catalog will indicate the location of items.

  • To obtain materials from SSHEL Storage, fill out a red request card (available at the Information Services Desk, Circulation desk, or Room 112) and give it to the staff member at the Information Services Desk. Materials are retrieved from SSHEL Storage every hour on the half hour (9:30, 10:30, etc.) and will be held at the Reference Desk for up to 48 hours after retrieval.
  • To obtain materials from Oak Street, you need to request them online by choosing the 'request' option at the top of the online catalog screen. These books are usually available in 2-4 days. You will receive an email notifying you when your books are ready for pickup.

Other Locations

While the S-Collection is the largest and most accessible collection of children's literature on campus, there are several other places where users may find useful materials. The location of any particular item will always be noted in the online catalog so that the user knows where to find the needed books.

  • The Rare Book and Manuscript Library, located in room 346 of the Main Library, maintains an additional collection of historical children's literature and instructional materials, dating back to the sixteenth century. For preservation purposes, collections of pop-up books and books with moveable parts are also maintained here. Access to the rare book collection is available during regular business hours, 8:30 - 5:00, Monday - Friday.
  • The Center for Children's Books (CCB), which moved from the University of Chicago in 1993, is committed to promoting quality literature for youth in the school and public library, in the classroom, and at home. The Center for Children's Books is an invaluable resource for locating children's literature materials on the University of Illinois campus. The Center maintains a non-circulating collection of more than 14,000 trade books for children and more than 1,000 professional and reference works, which provide history and criticism of children's literature. Most of the books in the Center's Collection have been reviewed in their affiliate publication, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.The CCB is located in room 24 in the basement of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (501 E. Daniel).
  • The Curriculum Collection, within the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library, serves as a companion to the S-Collection. This historical collection, which dates back to the early 1800's, consists of textbooks, basal readers, curriculum guides, audiovisual materials, kits, assessments, and other instructional items that pertain to elementary and secondary education. Students and researchers may also consult the file of current catalogs from textbook publishers, educational equipment manufacturers, audiovisual vendors and software producers.
  • The University Laboratory High School Library is part of the UIUC library system and houses a number of works of young adult literature along with graphic novels and periodicals.
  • Some non-English books are held in the Literatures and Languages Library (200 South Main Library) and the International & Area Studies Library (321 Main Library).
  • Juvenile literature related to Abraham Lincoln or the State of Illinois can also be found in the Illinois History and Lincoln Collection (320 Main Library).

S-Collection Journals

There are three different types of journals located in the S-Collection:

  • Children's Magazines: These titles are written for children in magazine format and include, among others, Skipping Stones, Faces, and New Moon. The selection is limited and the public libraries offer far greater variety of this sort of item.
  • Review Journals: These journals include reviews of children's and young adult literature and prove a useful resource when gathering information on a particular title. Review journals include The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and Horn Book Magazine.
  • Scholarly Journals: These journals feature critical articles about children's literature. Some title are The Lion and the Unicorn and Children's Literature Association Quarterly. Additional articles about literature may be found in journals in the Education Periodicals section, such as Language Arts and Reading Teacher.

A complete list of the S-Collection's periodicals can be found on the S-Collection's Electronic & Print Journals Guide.

Collection Development Guidelines

The S-Collection is a predominantly English language collection of books and other print materials. While some audiocassettes can be found in the S-Collection, no videotapes are collected. Both the Champaign Public Library and Urbana Free Library have extensive children's video collections available for circulation.

The works of a select list of children's authors and illustrators are collected comprehensively. To be included in this list, recommended authors and illustrators are evaluated on the strength of their work as a whole, as indicated by the awards they have received. Higher emphasis is placed on scholarly awards such as the Caldecott, the Newbery, or awards for the entire body of the author or illustrator's work. However, some consideration is also given to awards within a specific genre, like science fiction, or awards from parents and children's choice groups. For more information on awards, visit the Database of Award-Winning Children's Literature, which maintains links to listings of most major children's literature awards. For moreinformation about the types of materials and resources purchased for the S-Collection, see the Instructional Materials Collection Description and Guidelines.

The S-Collection includes fiction and non-fiction materials in:

Special highlights of the collection include:

The non-circulating copies of the Newbery and Caldecott winners are the most heavily used items in the S-Collection reference section. The reference section also contains indexes, bibliographies, encyclopedias, biographical works, and critical analysis of children's authors and illustrators. Standard works such as Children's Book Review Index and Something about the Author are supplemented by specialized bibliographies, which highlight topics in children's literature from countries and cultures around the world. A selection of current reviewing journals and children's educational magazines helps to keep the S-Collection and its reference section up-to-date.

The Library's Digital Literacy department has created a video tour of the S-Collection. This video provides an introduction to the S-Collection, and also features the Center for Children's Books.

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Locating Resources for Your Research

Finding Books

The following information will assist you in finding titles and call numbers of books on a given topic. For information about the physical location of a book, please refer to the section on the Location and Organization of the School Collection.

Juvenile & Young Adult Literature

To search for children's and young adult books in the online catalog, choose the "Advanced Search" option. Then type in your search terms in the following box. If you are searching for fiction, use "juvenile fiction" as a subject term. For example, if you wanted to find a fiction book about vegetables, search for "juvenile fiction" as a subject on the first line and "vegetables" as a subject on the second.

Juvenile fiction - as a phrase - subject words


vegetables - as a phrase - subject words

If you are searching for non-fiction, use the phrase "juvenile literature".

Juvenile literature - as a phrase - subject words


vegetables - as a phrase - subject words

Books About Children's Literature

To search for books about literature for children and young adults, use the online catalog. Choose the "Advanced Search" option. Enter the term "Children's Literature" as a phrase in the first search line. Enter the subject words for your topic on the second line. As is always the case when searching databases, the key is finding the right term or combination of terms.

A general search that is very useful in exploring topics is:

Children's literature - as a phrase - subject words


History and criticism - as a phrase - subject words

To search more specifically, include a key word for your topic. For example, if you wanted to find scholarly books about how gender is dealt with in children's literature, search for:

Children's literature - as a phrase - subject words


Gender - as a phrase - any words

This search results in several hits. Some of these may be useful, others may not. Remember that the key is determining the best search phrase and experimenting with various words.

Reference Sources

The S-Collection has a number of very useful print reference materials, including bibliographies. Click on the links below to view annotated lists of resources from the Guide to the S-Collection.

  • Authors and Illustrators
  • Bibliographies
  • Book Reviews
  • Catalogs
  • Development & History of Children's Literature
  • Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
  • Newbery, Caldecott, & Other Awards
  • Poetry, Songs, & Fairy Tales
  • Storytelling, Booktalks, & Plays

Information on Authors and Illustrators

The S-Collection Authors and Illustrators page contains links to a variety of web and print resources.

The Internet is also a wonderful source of information on authors and illustrators. There are many sites that feature brief biographical information on a variety of authors. It is also quite common for contemporary authors to have their own web sites.

Finding Book Reviews

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD) The Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD) is a service that offers a wide range of information on children's literature. The database allows users to search for titles by genre, age, grade, topic, author, illustrator, and other categories. It contains more than 200,000 reviews of children's books--all full text searchable from 33 review sources.

NoveList contains reviews of children's and young adult literature taken from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly.

Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble frequently include reviews from a variety of respected review journals, including Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist and Kirkus. Keep in mind however that these are commercial sites, so negative reviews or negative portions of reviews are not likely to be included.

Finding Articles About Your Topic

To search for articles, you will need to use an online database. These databases function as indexes for the contents of scholarly journals and are usually subject-specific. Some useful databases for researching children's and young adult literature are ERIC, Education Full Text, and Library Literature & Information Science Full Text. If you need any assistance in using an online database, stop by the reference desk in the main room of the Education Library or Ask-A-Librarian!


ERIC is an electronic database for articles and documents in education. It includes many citations for articles about children's and young adult literature. A free version of ERIC is also available on the Web at

Education Full Text

Like ERIC, this database indexes many leading journals in education. Although it is not quite as comprehensive as ERIC, many more articles are available in full-text. As with any database, the key is finding the right terms for the topic you have selected. Helpful database subject headings for conducting your search include, "Children's Literature," "Picture books for children," and "Young Adult Literature."

  • To combine multiple terms in Education Full Text, use multiple search boxes. For example, if you wanted to search for articles about multiculturalism in children's literature, type "children's literature" as a subject in the first search box and "multiculturalism" as a subject in the second. When you hit Search, Education Full Text will search for articles that include both terms.
  • An advantage of Education Full Text is that many articles are available in full-text by clicking on one of the icons below the citation. Users can also print, email or save articles by adding articles to a folder (icon underneath a citation), viewing the folder contents (right side of the screen), selecting articles, and then clicking Print, Email, or Save (right side of the screen). Itís also possible to export article citations in a folder to RefWorks.

Library Literature & Information Science Full Text

Another useful database for gathering research is Library Literature & Information Science Full Text. The search procedures for this database will be the same as those described for "Education Full-Text" above. Please note you can search Library Literature and Education Full-Text at the same time in the EBSCO interface. Click on Choose Databases above the search boxes and select databases that are relevant to your research. Other databases; such as ERIC, Education Index Retrospective, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, and Library Literature & Information Science Retrospective; may be relevant to your search.

There are many other databases that may provide useful materials for your research. For further assistance or suggestions on alternative places to look, feel free to Ask-A-Librarian!

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Last updated: Monday, 24-Jun-2013 16:17:45 CDT /pdc