Master of Arts in Children’s Literature Program

The University of British Columbia offers a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature (MACL) Program, jointly offered by the Department of English Language and Literatures, the Department of Language and Literacy Education, the Creative Writing Program, and the School of Information (iSchool).  The Program Chair and administrative support are housed at the iSchool. The program provides specialized education for graduate students in the study of children’s and young adult literature and media using a multi-disciplinary approach. It provides students with the opportunity to study writing and publishing this literature, examine models of sharing its rich heritage with the young, and also to facilitate the literary, social, historic, and psychological analyses of children’s literature as literature. This multi-disciplinary approach exposes students to many schools of literary criticism, educational theory, and professional and creative practice. It acquaints students with the broad literary canon of children’s literature across a spectrum of languages and cultures, and with a variety of critical perspectives and professional application. Across various disciplines, departments, and faculties, a broad range of courses provide disciplined, academic study of children’s and young adult literature and media.

The MACL Program is the only one of its kind in the world offered from such a broad, multidisciplinary perspective and the only Master’s program in children’s literature in Canada.  The program is unique in that the two faculties and the four academic units jointly provide faculty, courses, thesis supervision and committee support to give the graduate academic study of children’s literature a perspective on the full life cycle of the literature – the creation of the literature (through Creative Writing), its critical analysis (through English) and pedagogical approaches to the literature in interaction with children in schools, homes and libraries (Language and Literacy Education; School of Information).

Faculty in these departments are authors of both acclaimed children’s books and scholarly guides to the literature. They serve on national and international children’s book juries, lead national research studies, and have received awards for scholarship, service, and teaching.

The University Library collections in historical and contemporary children’s books and the critical study of children’s literature are considered among the strongest such collections in an academic library in Canada, including some 4,000 early and rare children’s books and some 50,000 modern children’s books. As well, the Library maintains a large collection of research materials on children’s literature, including histories, criticisms, bibliographies, catalogues, and biographies.

Students in the MACL Program have come from China, England, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Columbia, Peru, the United States, and from across Canada. The program provides specialized study of children’s books to those who are, or who intend to be, involved in teaching, school and public library services, writing, editing/publishing, theatre/film, storytelling, or affiliated fields.

The Master of Arts in Children’s Literature Program extends beyond its four departments and two faculties in a strong outreach to the community across and outside the University. Members of all departments involved in the program sit on the Steering Committee of the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable which plans a series of annual events and conferences to bring award-winning authors, illustrators, editors and publishers such as Philip Pullman, Gregory Maguire, Shaun Tan, Katherine Paterson, and Lois Lowry to speak with students and Vancouver’s dynamic children’s literature community.

UBC Library and Special Collections

The University’s library has the greatest strength in children’s literature education and scholarship of any university in Canada. The University’s library collections in children’s literature and scholarship consist of a large, circulating collection of contemporary and historical children’s literature in the Education Library; a special reference collection of Canadian children’s books that is a satellite collection from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in Toronto; and a rare books collection (the Arkley Collection) in Rare Books and Special Collections that has had two bibliographical catalogues published by the University Library and UBC Press. The library collections of children’s books and the supporting historical and critical secondary literature are developed by professional children’s literature specialists. The education library staff provides annual introductory workshops on children’s literature scholarly resources to the students.

The Arkley Collection of Early and Historical Children’s Literature holds American, British and Canadian children’s books from the late eighteenth century to 1939; it is often referred to as an “ABC” collection. It is strong in material by and about Lewis Carroll. Some unique items include Canadian first editions, early editions of children’s classics, and works of important illustrators. Works published after 1939 and journals are excluded from the collection in Rare Books and Special Collections (these are primarily housed in the UBC Education Library).

All of the items are available and searchable using the UBC Library catalogue ( As well, three print bibliographies of the collection are available:

  • Egoff, Sheila. Books that Shaped Our Minds: A Bibliographical Catalogue of Selections Chiefly from the Arkley Collection of Early & Historical Children’s Literature in the Rare Books and Special Collections, the University of British Columbia Library. Vancouver: UBC Library, 1998.
  • Egoff, Sheila. Canadian Children’s Books 1799-1939 in the Rare Books and Special Collections, the University of British Columbia Library: A Bibliographical Catalogue. Vancouver: UBC Library, 1992.
  • Smith, R.D Hilton. Alice One Hundred: Being a Catalogue in Celebration of the 100th Birthday of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Victoria: The Adelphi Book Shop Ltd., 1966.


For more information on the historical children’s literature collection and the support that we provide for the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program, contact Katherine Kalsbeek, reference librarian, by email or phone: 604-822-2819

Research Guide on Historical Canadian Children’s Literature:


The Education Library covers titles from 1939 to the present. The collection of over 50,000 titles includes all genres of children’s literature and videos/dvds. There is a French-language children’s literature collection. Over 6000 titles from 1986 to the present are in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Collection. As well, the Library maintains a large collection of research and professional resources, including histories, criticisms, bibliographies, catalogues, biographies, and pedagogy of children’s and young adult literature.

For more information, contact Jo-Anne Naslund and Danielle Winn and

Research Guide to Children’s Literature:


First Nations Children’s Book Collection, predominantly from the 1970s to the present, is housed in the Xwi7xwa Library. Collection is strong in children’s books by Aboriginal authors and about Aboriginal communities and cultures and in evaluating children’s books.

For more information, contact Kim Lawson and Ann Doyle and

Research Guide to First Nations Children’s Books:

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Master of Arts in Children’s Literature
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