The Butler Children's Literature Center at Dominican University is one of the nation's premier centers for the study of children's and young adult literature in the services of literacy, learning and a life-long love of reading.
As a Sinsinawa-sponsored institution, Dominican University prepares students to pursue truth, to give compassionate service, and to participate in the creation of a more just and humane world. The Butler Children's Literature Center at Dominican will carry out its own mission as a reflection of that inspiration. The Butler Children's Literature Center at Dominican University will be an exemplary presence for its collection of children's and young adult literature and for the professional materials that support their use with children and young adults.
Mission and Overarching Goals
The Butler Children's Literature Center will serve as an examination center for children's and young adult books published annually in the United States, and as an historical collection of the best children's and young adult literature published nationally and internationally. The Butler Center will also serve as an evidence-based, best practices professional collection in support of the application and integration of children's and young adult literature in classrooms, libraries, childcare centers, and homes. The Center will serve educators, scholars, researchers, librarians, teachers, parents and other caring adults in children's lives through programs, conferences, credit and continuing education courses, web resources and graduate research opportunities.
Language development in young children is necessary for literacy development. 1 Both depend on literature. After nourishment and shelter there are no more basic needs for our children than language and literature. Literacy changes lives. With it, one might go anywhere and peruse anything. Without it, learning stops, and opportunities are limited. Evidence of those limited opportunities is present throughout our culture. One only has to view the illiteracy rates in today's prisons to see how truly limiting life's choices can be without words and books.
Literacy goes beyond reading, writing, speaking and listening. Literacy also implies communication and development within a meaningful social and cultural context (Vygotsky 1978). A truly literate person is disposed to lifelong literacy because reading, writing and conversing enrich one's life aesthetically, intellectually, emotionally and socially (Slaughter-Defoe 1992).
From songs and rhymes for infants, to stories, picture books, and beginning readers for children, to informational books and young adults novels for adolescents, literature for children and young adults is the backbone for literacy learning. Listening to, reading, discussing and writing serve as purposeful, meaningful activities within young people's social and cultural worlds. Literature in all its forms opens doors for every young person fortunate enough to have caring adults help them connect to the right books at the rights times.
The Butler Children's Literature Center at Dominican University intends to provide children's and young adult literature, professional materials, and educational opportunities that will make those connections possible.
1 We define literacy in its broadest sense, encompassing the mastery of reading and writing skills, and also the skills of listening and speaking. This broader definition is commonly used by those who study literacy due to the interrelatedness of those skills (Garton and Pratt 1989, 1).
Garton, Alison, and Chris Pratt, 1989. Learning to be literate: The development of spoken and written language. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Slaughter-Defoe, Diana T. 1992. Forward to the past: Black and white American families: Literacy and policy lag. In The intergenerational transfer of cognitive skills, Vol. II.: theory and research in cognitive science, edited by T.G. Sticht, M.J. Beeler and B.A. McDonald. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex.
Vygotsky, Lev S. 1978. Mind in society, the development of higher psychological processes, edited by M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, and E. Souberman. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ Press.