The Value of Children's literature | Children's Literature | Reading (Process)

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

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

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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