Sara L. Schwebel

Professor and Director of the Center for Children's Books

PhD, History of American Civilization, Harvard University

Room 209, 501 E. Daniel St.

Research focus

Children's and young adult literature, history of education and literacy, history of childhood, history pedagogy, public history, digital humanities, and historical fiction

Honors and Awards

  • Organization of American Historians, Stanton-Horton Award, 2019
  • American Studies Association, Garfinkel Prize in Digital Humanities, Honorable Mention, 2017
  • University of South Carolina Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, 2017
  • University of South Carolina Breakthrough Star, 2015
  • Children's Literature Association Article Award, Honorable Mention, 2015


Sara L. Schwebel is a professor in the School of Information Sciences and director of the Center for Children's Books. A historian and children's literature scholar, her work centers on the way books, media, and school instruction shape young people's conceptualizations of the past.  She is the author of Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms (Vanderbilt UP, 2011) and editor of both Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition (UC Press, 2016) and The Lone Woman and Last Indians Digital Archive, which was built in collaboration with undergraduate students and is part of a larger collaboration with the Channel Islands National Park. Schwebel co-edited, with Jocelyn Van Tuyl, a book marking the 100th anniversary of the American Library Association’s first children's literature prize: Dust off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children's Literature at the Newbery Centennial (Routledge, 2022).

Schwebel has served on the National Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of the USA (2005-11) and the Children's Literature Association (2015-17). She is an inaugural member of the Scholars Council for the University of Florida's Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature. She holds a PhD in the history of American civilization from Harvard University and a BA in history from Yale College. Before beginning her academic career, she taught middle school history and literature in Virginia and Connecticut. 

Office hours

By appointment, please contact professor

Publications & Papers

Dust off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children's Literature at the Newbery Centennial (co-editor, with Jocelyn Van Tuyl). Routledge, 2022.

Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016 (editor).

Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms. Nashville: Vanderbilt UP, 2011.

"A Children's Book, Nineteenth Century-News, and Multimedia Approaches to American Studies," American Quarterly 70, 3 (2018): 715-19.

"Nicoleños in Los Angeles: Documenting the Fate of the Lone Woman's Community," Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 36, 1 (2016): 91-118.  (with Susan L. Morris, John R. Johnson, Steven J. Schwartz, René L. Vellanoweth, and Glenn J. Farris)

"Reading 9/11 from the American Revolution to U.S. Annexation of the Moon: M.T. Anderson's Feed and Octavian Nothing," Children's Literature 42 (2014): 197-223.

"Historical Fiction, the Common Core, and Disciplinary Habits of Mind," Social Education 78, 1 (2014): 20-24.

"Rewriting the Captivity Narrative for Contemporary Children: Speare, Bruchac, and the French & Indian War," New England Quarterly 84, 2 (2011): 318-46.

"Historical Fiction and the Classroom: History and Myth in Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond," Children's Literature in Education: An International Quarterly 34 (2003): 195-218.


"The Complex Precursors, Legacies, and Possibilities of Scott O’Dell’'s Island of the Blue Dolphins." Opening keynote, International Research Society in Children's Literature (IRSCL) Congress, "Ecologies of Childhood," Santa Barbara, CA, August 2023.

"Scholarly Editions, Children's Literature, Critical Literacy." Widener University (Pennsylvania), March 2023.

"The Newbery's First Century: The Canon, The Legacy, The Impetus for Change." Lois Lenski Children's Literature Lecture, Illinois State University, April 2023.

"Children's Literature as Public History: Bridging Divides Within and Beyond the Academy." Keynote address, Resources and Visibility in Digital Humanities, University of Illinois-Chicago, October 2020.

"Island of the Blue Dolphins as History and Literature of the West: A Public Humanities Collaboration," Plenary Presentation, Western Literature Association, October 2018. [Missouri Council for History Education Visiting Scholar, 2018]

"Children's Literature and Scholarly Editions: Challenges, Opportunities, and Possibilities for the Field" (panel organizer) and "The Classroom Canon: Textual Scholarship and the Importance of Modern Critical Editions," Children's Literature Association, June 2018.