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Children’s Literature in Literacy Education Essay


As the matter of fact, literature and literacy emerged from the human desire to share experience and to get a better understanding of the perception of the existence. It is worth stating that all the fairy tales and myths aim to help people to understand something that cannot be explained. Literature plays an integral role in the children’s development and the process of growing up. Literature is the need of the human being to express feelings and experience through words and stylistic devices.

A great variety of children literature address different needs; some books aim to explain the world around us, whereas other ones describe the daily routine, stress the conflict situations, and show some possible variants and option for a solution or omitting. Some books are written to highlight the differences that are common in the world, namely cultural, national, or racial. However, no matter what the content is, each book is created to transfer the vital message.

For the child to be able to understand and perceive the knowledge hidden in the book, he should be able to read. Reading is not only about pronouncing words together; it is more about the capability to understand the text and to analyze what is read. The primary aim of the paper is to provide the in-depth analysis regarding the role of the children’s literature in the literacy education.

Dramatic play

Reading and dramatic play are the perfect tools that help to develop the child’s imagination and contribute to the expansion of the world outlook. Dramatic play is usually used to see how the child interacts with the environment. The fundamental purpose of the teacher is not to give children printed words to learn by heart but to create the prolific atmosphere to play, be unique, and reflect the inner world with the attention to the reality (Mayesky, 2006).

Through the performance, the teacher can draw appropriate conclusions regarding the feelings of the child and his role in the family. Unconsciously children behave with the toys or classmates the way they are treated in the family. The dramatic play allows the children to behave like adults. This type of the activity is acceptable to children of any age as the dramatic play changes and becomes more complex with the maturity.

The dramatic play is used in the prekindergarten programs to foster the developmental process. It is a common pedagogical technique (Gupta, 2009). One child is a storyteller; he chooses people from the group to make a performance. A narrator dictates the rules, children make costumes and play. Imagination and creativity skills develop rapidly; furthermore, children learn how to act in a group and follow the rules. The primary objective is considered to be the promotion and increase of interest towards literacy development. Firstly, the children play the stories they have read or told, however, later they start inventing their own as they have the individual experience.

Storytelling

In the modern world, where the vast majority of people are obsessed with the Internet and technical gadgets, the number of people who enjoy reading and children who prefer reading fairy tales to playing on the smartphone decreases. The question arises, is it necessary to promote literature in the modern highly technological world? Einstein, the outstanding scientist, once stated that to encourage the child and to develop intelligence, the fairy stories should be read to him.

The famous words of Einstein had an impressive influence “if you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales” (Batt, 2006). The principal significance of telling the stories to children is the level of the intimacy during the process, the magic that happens when the expressions from the imagination become real with the help of words. It contributes to the better development of self.

Storytelling improves imagination, critical thinking skills, problem-solving, listening, and communication skills. The richness of culture and experience of the ancestors can be found in the stories everyone has heard in childhood. Who would people be without the storytelling?

Language games, songs, fairy tales, and rhymes have a positive effect not only on children in kindergarten and school, however, on toddlers and infants as well. The vast majority of parents are surprised by this fact. According to the recent researchers, there is the link between the language experience the infants and toddlers have and their future development of communication and language skills (Birckmayer, Kennedy, & Stonehouse, 2008).

Although the children of this age do not understand the meaning of the words, they perceive the tune and sounds. It is significantly important to engage children in language experience to foster positive development.

The recent researches prove that more and more children attend the preschool programs in Europe. The reason for such popularity of the pre-educational centers is that the early cognitive competence is linked to the academic success and achievements the person will have in the future. The primary problem of the modern education is that it is focused on the domains, such as “cognitive, social, emotional, or physical” (Fleer & Hammer, 2013).

There are great chances for one aspect to become the leading one. The kindergartens experience “schoolification”. Nevertheless, the fundamental factor for successful academic performing, emotional domain, is not well addressed in modern school and kindergartens as the cognitive aspect receives the priority. As Vygotsky puts it, there is a relation between intellect, affect, language, and thought. The educational programs in kindergarten exclude the aspect of emotional development, and, according to Vygotsky it is the major drawback of the modern educational system. The implementation of the fairy tales into the developmental program will beneficially affect further child’s improvement.

Fairy tales are considered to be “cultural device for emotion regulation” (Fleer & Hammer, 2013). Telling stories the teacher engage children in emotion regulation. They participate in “telling, retelling, and role-playing of fairy tales” (Fleer & Hammer, 2013).

Picture books

Picture books can also be used by teachers to promote and foster the development of imagination and cognitive development with the help of literature. Images in such types of books are commonly connected and play the same role as the printed text. The message is conveyed through art and text. The picture books engage children on both, emotional and intellectual levels. The text in the picture books is as significant as images are, as it provides the child with the ability to understand the language in use and develop creativity and imagination (Kiefer & Tyson, 2014). The words that are used in the text expand the vocabulary of a child (Kiefer & Tyson, 2014). They can guess the meaning simply by looking at the picture as it corresponds the meaning of the text.

From the birth, every child has chances to succeed, to prosper, and make changes. Learning experience affects the future development of the person. Acquiring skills and knowledge do not start at school; it starts from the very first day of life. The world of a child consists of family and place of living. Understanding and exploring the world involves three areas, namely “being belonging, and becoming” (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009). These notions the child can learn from literature.

It is worth highlighting that books provide children with the models of behavior, attitude towards people, tolerance, and respect (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009). Some books, like Where the Wild Things Are by Sendak, aim to show that every person has a place in the world and should find where he belongs to. The question regarding belonging is essential to cover. In addition, children’s literature addresses the question of being.

Fairy tales and novels depict the model of behavior, the peculiarities of establishing the relationships between people and maintaining them. Moreover, the diversity of the world is also shown in the literature. Taken into consideration stated above significance of the literature in the positive child’s development, it should be pointed out that the teachers should pay a lot of attention while selecting the stories. In the case, the educator wants to address the question of tolerance and differences between the human beings; Whoever You Are by Mem Fox seems to be the perfect option.

Educating children, the teachers should not eliminate the issue of becoming. Knowledge, needs, and preferences of children change during the childhood, and the area of becoming reflects these processes. Paulette Bourgeois aims to help children in understanding their self and the world around (Adam, 2014). The series of Franklin books written by this talented author provide the children with understanding how to interact with the classmates, be honest, fight with fears, and appreciate moral values.

According to the experts, children need to be surrounded by the literature and be able to interpret the language of it, this way they will enjoy the learning process and will have a fruitful academic performance in future. A new generation can change the way people live now and improve the living standards of the whole nation. That is, it seems significant to show children the world of literature as the books are an unlimited source of information, advice, and experience. It is impossible to show the outstanding result in school or college without reading and critical thinking skills. Nurturing the love towards literature, people facilitate the way; the child will have towards success and development. The ability to interpret and analyze the literature forms since the childhood, and that is, should be addressed to from the very first day of life.

Modern children face a much more various literature opportunities than during any time in history. Earlier, the access to the literature had not so many people as the books were written in Latin and cost so much that not everyone could afford it. The advantages of the printed technologies provided the broader group with the possibility to read. The literacy became a larger notion encompassing not only ability to write and read but, more importantly, to analyze, understand, perceive, and draw conclusions.

Nowadays, the children literature is represented not only in the printed form but in the electronic as well. The experts have already revealed the interrelation between the enjoyment of reading and academic success. The dominant activity in children is play. Imagination is significant for their development, and that is should be used by educators to improve the learning abilities of children. Through the play, a child learns “the difference between reality and fantasy and engaging in imaginative thought, so necessary in reading and text construction” (Ashton, 2007). Every book has a message that is subconsciously perceived.

That is, the children’s literature should be carefully selected. Some stories promote stereotyping; the example of it can be Power Rangers advocate the image of the boy who is ruthless, strong, and violent at some point, whereas Barbie establishes the stereotypes regarding the woman’s appearance and standards of beauty that can lead to eating disorders and low self-esteem. Nevertheless, the stories help children to develop intellect, imagination, nurture the love towards learning and reading, and understand the world around better.

Significance of the Fairy Tales

Although the adults believe that some fairy tales are too scary to be told to children, the recent researchers prove that telling and reading such stories are the essential part of the positive child’s development. From fairy tales, children can learn how to deal with the problems and solve some issues. However, it is worth stating that adults can make the same too. Children usually imagine that they are the main heroes of the story and their possible actions in certain situations (Fremantle, 2013).

Moreover, from fairy tales they become aware that life is not always easy and happy, something bad may happen as no one is protected from the challenges and difficulties. To secure children and build the emotional shield, that will protect the child in any case. Reading fairy tales children understand that all people are different, there are different races and cultures; everyone should be respected and treated equally. Tolerance, respect, and critical thinking skills can be taught from fairy tales.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the literature plays an essential role in the child’s development and the process of growing up. The major purpose of the creation of the first myths, novels, and fairy tales was to transfer the knowledge and experience to the next generations and to provide the explanations for the phenomenon that could not be understood. As the matter of fact, with the technological development and all the advance and progress that society has already made, the purpose of the literature and education seems to be the same.

Teachers are the guides that lead children into the world of literature to have unlimited access to the experience that was gained for centuries for us to be able to speak to the ancestors with the help of the book. Reading develops a number of skills, among them critical thinking and language skills. Moreover, the ability to read, perceive, and analyze the information facilitates the process of education, which consequently lead to more successful future. Unfortunately, the vast majority of schools make an accent on the decoding text, rather than on the sufficient perception of the information. Understanding the significance of literature will bring the society to the new level of development and evolution.

References

Adam, H. (2014). Children’s literature. In J. Fellowes & G. Oakley (Eds.), Language, literacy and early childhood education (pp. 512-533). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Ashton, J. (2007). Barbie, the Wiggles and Harry Potter. Can popular culture really support young children’s literacy development? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 13(1), 31-40.

Batt, T. (2006).The story sack: storytelling and story making with young children (pp.25-29). Auckland, N.Z. :Playcentre Publications.

Birckmayer, J., Kennedy, A., & Stonehouse, A. (2008). From lullabies to literature: stories in the lives of infants and toddlers. Washington, DC : NAEYC.

Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming – the early years learning framework for Australia. Canberra: DEEWR. Web.

Fleer, M. & Hammer, M. (2013). Emotions in imaginative situations: The valued place of fairytales for supporting emotion regulation. Mind, Culture, and Activity 20 (3), 240-259.

Fremantle, S. (2013). Chapter 6 ‘Once upon a time’: A study of children’s response to fairytale. In P. Pinsent (Ed.), The power of the page children’s books and their readers (pp.55-65). Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis.

Gupta, A. (2009). Vygotskian perspectives on using dramatic play to enhance children’s development and balance creativity with structure in the early childhood classroom. Early Child Development and Care, 179(8), 1041-1054.

Kiefer, B. Z., & Tyson, C. A. (2014).Charlotte Huck’s Children’s Literature: A brief guide (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Mayesky, M. (2006).Dramatic play and puppetry (8th ed.). Australia: Delmar Thomson Learning.

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IvyPanda. "Children’s Literature in Literacy Education." September 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/childrens-literature-in-literacy-education/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Children’s Literature in Literacy Education." September 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/childrens-literature-in-literacy-education/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Children’s Literature in Literacy Education'. 11 September.

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