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Three Careers for Children’s Literature PhD Graduates

Kids with Moustaches

Children’s Literature can be broadly understood as the study of texts and media intended for or created by children, but that doesn’t mean children’s literature graduates are limited to literature-based careers.

While graduates with children’s literature degrees have traditionally moved on to jobs in education and teaching, there are many more career possibilities out there.

Childhood studies range across a wide array of disciplines, including (but not limited to) literary criticism, education, history, cultural studies, psychology, sociology, business, media studies, creative writing, and cognitive science. Graduates in childhood studies have an equally exciting and varied career field to choose from. Here are just three of the many options out there.

Children’s Literature and Sociology

Hands around planet

Because children’s texts “expose readers to information about social systems, about inequality, about gender stratification and racism” (Singer, 2011, p. 308), there are a wide range of careers that combine sociological work and childhood studies.

Publishing and advertising are good examples of careers that desperately need input from experts and specialists who understand how the product and dissemination of children’s texts can impact social systems and social justice.

For a few ideas about the work needed in this area, you can check out the “Diversity in Children’s Books” infographic on the AICL website, or this article on minorities in children’s television commercials from the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

Children’s Literature and Psychology

Woman talking to seated child

According to Joan Blos (1978), “Children’s literature and child psychology are sibling disciplines.” (p. 101). Like children’s authors, child psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists share an interest in understanding and relating to children.

Using the insights about child psychology, development, interests, and positioning gained from a children’s literature degree, graduates occupy a strong position when it comes to doing this type of work.

At the same time, children’s texts are frequently used as psychological tools – there is even a specific branch of therapy, known as bibliotherapy, that uses books to support the mental health of adolescents and children.

Children’s Literature and Art

woman painting

No good children’s book is complete without at least one stunning illustration, so it stands to reason that artistically minded children’s literature graduates may want to branch out into careers in Art.

In publishing and writing, artists with a talent for unique artwork can find work as book illustrators and designers, working in everything from watercolors and collages to graphic design. The best illustrators need a deep understanding of text and image work together to create meaning in children’s texts, making a PhD-level understanding of children’s literature valuable.

Children’s literature graduates can also find work as art historians, museum curators, and so forth, working with historical children’s texts, toys, and other products. In these careers, a thorough understanding of the history of children’s culture in different context is essential.

With so many career opportunities to choose from, there is no need to worry that a degree in children’s literature limits you to a career as a kindergarten teacher or starving writer. Want to talk through your children’s literature dissertation and career ideas? Sign up for a free session today.

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