Children’s literature has long been an inspirational force in popular culture — think of "Harry Potter" and "The Hunger Games," as well as classic children’s books such as "Where the Wild Things Are," "Willy Wonka" and "James and the Giant Peach."
Each of these books has become familiar to virtually anyone who has ever raised young children – or taught youngsters to be avid readers.
UC San Diego Extension has introduced two new certificate programs — “Children’s Book Writing” and “Children’s Book Illustration” — aimed at aspiring authors and illustrators who wish to create fun, entertaining and meaningful books for children.
These innovative programs have been created in close collaboration with a select group of Southern California-based authors, artists, literary agents, editors, and designers, with the goal of providing students the opportunity to polish their talents.
The programs’ advisory board includes several notable children's literature authors and illustrators, led by Brian Selznick, author of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal for its portrait of a young boy growing up in turn-of-the-century Paris.
Selznick’s novel formed the basis for director Martin Scorsese’s highly-acclaimed 2011 movie, “Hugo,” which won five Oscars from a total of 11 nominations, including Best Picture.
UC San Diego's Seth Lerer, Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature, is another prominent advisory board member. His book, "Children’s Literature: A Readers’ History from Aesop to Harry Potter," was awarded the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism.
“I’m always amazed at how many people have wonderful ideas for children’s books,” said Extension’s Arts & Humanities program representative Annika Nelson, who has illustrated seven books, six in children’s literature. “Yet, they often don’t know how to go from concept to proposal. These programs will show them how to hone their skills and develop portfolio proposals, putting their best foot forward.”
UC San Diego’s Geisel Library is named in honor of Ted Geisel, the famed children’s book author who is better known as Dr. Seuss. Geisel was a long-time San Diego resident until his passing in 1991.
“No doubt originally inspired by the genius of Dr. Seuss, our region has become home to a creative colony of children's book professionals," added Nelson. "I’m sure even Dr. Seuss himself would’ve been proud of the programs we’ve created.”
Currently, these in-class courses are being offered:
According to Nelson, plans are underway to offer both certificate programs online in the coming year or so.