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The Value of Children’s Literature

“For decades, research has concluded that children's books not only provide great pleasure to
readers, but they can also play a significant role in children's social, literacy and academic
success.” (Hoewisch: 2000). Children’s literature however doesn’t just stop at children’s books
but also includes; plays, short stories and poems, anything that utilises the written word!

Firstly the sheer enjoyment of reading, instils a sense of love for literature. Children’s literature
engages the child, and creates a pattern, a ritual whereby children continue to read, and thereby
learn and grow from all its other benefits.

Social development is one of these other benefits. As Bill McGinley (n.d.) says literature is a part
of our culture. It not only reflects our cultural norms, values and beliefs but it can also help shape
them. Think for a moment about the stories in your life, whether they have been read or told. The
children's stories you read over and over again. The stories of characters you once related to and
even emulated. These are the stories we as humans learn valuable lessons from! Stories engage
our sense of self as we explore a world full of dilemmas, choices and journeys. Stories help us to
construct our own meaning about life as we watch how other characters react in certain
situations. Using children's literature to teach conflict resolution is one clear example how
literature develops social development. By reading literature students can relate to at a personal
level and begin to analyse any conflict present, so that they can develop the skills to resolve it
productively in their own lives.

Literacy success is another benefit of children’s literature; as the more time children spend
reading literature, the better their reading and writing abilities become. Significant increases have
also been specifically found in young children's comprehension and vocabulary skills
(Cohen: 1968), phonological production (Irwin: 1960), complexity of sentence structure
(Cazden: 1965), and concept of story structure (Applebee: 1978) all as a result of being read to
from an early age. Hearing stories read aloud can assist children in grasping the differences
among literary forms and functions, teaching them to anticipate story patterns and endings, and
helping to develop quicker and more fluent reading. (Hoewisch: 2000)
Lastly children’s literature benefits in the development of children’s academic success. Literature
allows children to engage with the content being taught, for example the famous picture book
‘Bilby Moon’ by Margret Spurling, allows Stage 1 teachers to confidently introduce and teach the
complex topic of phases of the moon to their class, as they have a resource that provides both a
simple description of the process textually, but also visually as the prominent illustrations aid in
the child’s academic development of the concept. Of course in enabling children to learn through
reading, children’s literature also aids in teachers, teaching lessons. As Philip Pullman says “We
don't need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do's and don'ts: we need books, time, and silence.
‘Thou shalt not' is soon forgotten, but 'Once upon a time' lasts forever.” (personal
communication, August 10, 2008)
Reference list
Applebee, A. (1978). The child’s concept of story: ages two to seventeen. Chicago: The

University of Chicago Press.

Arnold, N. (2003). Diving with dolphins. London: Scholastic Children’s Books.

Better Homes and Gardens (1990). The best-ever gift. Iowa, U.S.A.: Meredith Corporation.

Blume, J. (1992). The one in the middle is the green kangaroo. London: Pan Macmillan

Children’s Books.

Cazden, C. (1965). Environmental assistance to the child's acquisition of grammar. Unpublished

doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Cohen, D. (1968). The effect of literature on vocabulary and reading achievement. Elementary

english, 45, 209-213, 217.

Cole, J. (1996). The magic school bus: blows its top. New York: Scholastic Inc.

Costain, M. (2006). All stars 8. Fitzroy, Victoria: Black dog books.

Cunxin, L. (2007). The peasant prince. Camberwell, Vic: Penguin Group.

de Brunhoff, L. (1990). Babar and his friends at the farm. London: Twin Books U.K. Ltd.
Deary, T. (2007). Horrible histories groovy greeks. London: Scholastic Children’s Books.

Gardner, S. (2001). One dead seagull. Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited.

Good, C. (1999). Here comes the rain. Gosford: Scholastic Australia Pty limited

Griffiths, A. (1999). Just stupid. Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited

Hawksley, L. (2000). Endangered animals. UK: Parragon.

Hoewisch, A. (2000). Children's literature in teacher- preparation programs: an invited

contribution. Retrieved August 22nd 2008 from

http://www.readingonline.org/critical/hoewisch/index.html

Hutchins, P. (1983). You’ll soon grow into them, titch. London: Penguin Group.

Irwin, O.C. (1960, June). Infant speech: Effect of systematic reading of stories. Journal of speech

and hearing research, 3, 187-190.

Johnson, A. (1992). King of cats. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited.

Lewison, W. (1992). Buzzzzzzz said the bee. New York: Scholastic Inc.
McGinley, B. (n.d.). The value of children's literature to teach productive conflict resolution

skills. Ways to use children's' literature. Retrieved August 22nd 2008 from

http://www.csmp.org/resources/family/ways.htm

Pfister, M. (1992). The rainbow fish. New York: North-South Books Inc.

Rodda, E. (2000). The third wish. Sydney: ABC Books.

Spurling, M. (2000). Bilby moon. Kent Town: working title press.

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