AMANDA REYNOLDS EAC 273 FZ Introduction to Children’s Literature

VALERIE WHITESIDE July 26, 2007

Books – The Bridge Between a Child’s Mind and the World What is it that sets books aside from the other forms of entertainment in this world? Why is it so important that children experience the many joys of reading a book? Books, stories and novels have been around since the beginning of time establishing ideas and experiences so that they can be remembered throughout the ages. Books allow us to learn about the past, cope with the present and imagine the future. That is why they are so important not just for children to improve their literary skills but to enhance their imagination as well. Books can help a child cope with the situations that life throws their way, learn about issues that the world is faced with and lastly encourage them to expand their vocabulary and build their pronunciation and speech abilities. Story-telling and reading are essential elements that need to be encouraged and utilized as they enable children to learn about this world and what lies within it as well as helps them to develop both socially and linguistically.

Very young children are just beginning to learn to talk so this is when story-telling is crucial as it can promote the development of speech, pronunciation and annunciation. When a toddler speaks they are most likely mimicking what they have already heard, therefore the introduction of literature at the right age level can enhance their vocabulary and encourage speech. Parents and teachers can build on this by linking reading to activities such as flash cards and using actual physical objects that collaborate with the book. As a result children may improve their speech quicker through hands on experience and practice. Non-fiction, How-to books such as A, B, C’s can introduce children to the alphabet and eventually to how the letters of the alphabet tie into actual words. Picture books are also an excellent choice for toddlers as they are still learning what words

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are and the names of objects around them. Picture books can help the child to begin to associate a word with the corresponding picture. Other great additions to the development of a child’s literacy are ‘Hooked on Phonics’ and ‘Leap Pad’ that allow children to learn words through discovery and independence. Children can feel a sense of accomplishment through learning to read on their own through practice. Children and people that suffer from speech problems such as stuttering can benefit from reading aloud and story-telling because they can practice annunciating which can develop and strengthen their tongue muscles and linguistic capabilities.1

From when a child begins to speak, their mind is like a sponge, it can absorb so much in a small amount of time so this would also be a good time to introduce a child to various languages and incorporate them into everyday life. They may be more likely to learn how to annunciate the words and incorporate them into their vocabulary. This is significant as this is a world with a diverse range of cultures, languages and people, so educators and parents need to address this fact to help create children that have open minds and hearts by promoting the acceptance and understanding of the different cultures and languages through literacy as pointed out in the online article, Critical Issue: Addressing Literacy Needs in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms, which states, “Celebrating the cultural similarities among diverse cultural groups has been promoted by some educators as a way of uniting all cultural groups.” 2 Books are more than just words strung together; they can have a genuine impact on a child’s life and lead to self discovery and understanding.

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Pudewa, Andrew. “Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization.” The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (2005). 26 July 2007 < http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/Homeschool_Reviews/reviews.php?rid=1372> 2 Willis, Arlette Ingram. "Critical Issue: Addressing Literacy Needs in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms." North Central Regional Education Laboratory (2000). 26 July 2007 <http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li400.htm >.

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When a child reaches the age where they can not only read but also understand what is being read to them and actually comprehend what a book is saying then that is when the child should be encouraged to read books that deal with the issues of everyday life. To an adult a child’s problems may seem insignificant but to a child the issues that they are faced with in every day life in everything to them. For example, one common situation that many children must deal with in school is bullying. A child who is faced with the constant ridicule of someone in their life may end up introverted, anti-social and possibly depressed. But by providing a child with a book that deals with bullying either fiction or non-fiction, it may help the child to not only learn about what is happening to them but can offer them the knowledge that they may need to handle the situation in a positive and productive way such as telling someone or feeling better about themselves instead of withdrawing or worse.3 It is important that a child can realize that they are not alone when facing issues such as this. Books such as Harry Potter and Charlotte’s Web are excellent examples to demonstrate some of the problems that youths are faced with today such as making friends, fitting in and dealing with the opinions of others. Charlotte’s Web can help children realize how the only true friendship in this world is selfless friendship and that in order to make a friend you need to take a risk and put yourself out there as stated on page 41 of the classic when Wilbur says, “Friendship is a gamble,” after first meeting Charlotte.4 This book can also show children how we cannot form an opinion about a person just on an initial impression because we may be wrong; we need to give that person a chance without passing premature judgments and dismissing them. This is an important lesson when children are beginning to meet new people and make friends because they are just learning about the elements of socialization and books can be a foundation for how they treat others.

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Edwards, Nicola. Talking about Bullying. Minnesota: Chrysalis Books, 2003. White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. New York: Harper & Row, 1952, p. 41

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Another essential quality that needs to be incorporated into the books that children are exposed to is the element of fantasy. Although certain aspects of society often criticize literary fantasy due to the recurring theme of good vs. evil, example Harry Potter, these books allow a child to enter a world where anything and everything is possible and therefore opens their mind to possibility. By providing children with books in the fantasy genre, Children can begin to develop their imagination and in turn apply it creatively to real life. This can also help children socially as it may incline them to accept the unknown, things they do not know. Fantasy can also add to a child’s imaginative play and make social situations more fun and interesting through make believe play. For example, if a child imagines that they are Harry Potter attending the magical school of Hogwarts, they will have a better time if they have others to join their world of pretend.5 Books of Fantasy such as Harry Potter enable children to realize that there can be so much more than life as we know it and so many friends and people that we can meet. By entering into a world where animals talk or wizard’s do magic children may be more likely to accept the underlying message of the book whether it is the strength of love, the need for friendship or the potential goodness of the world and in turn practice it in life.

From picture books to novels it is important that children get excited about reading because these are truly the cornerstone of the development of literacy and linguistics. Books open a world of possibility to children that they would not be able to enter without picking up a book and exercising their imagination. Through reading children not only learn what words mean and how they are used but how they can form amazing stories and books that can impact the lives of many. Books provide children with a wide range of knowledge that can help them cope with the chaos of life and the issues that they are faced with as they grow up. Books can also help children to understand the
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Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Great Britain: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 1997

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different situations that happen to them and therefore prepare them for the future. By making books fun and exciting, parents and educators can encourage children to explore the many wonders that lie in the literary world and help a child to hold on to the possibilities that are present in the world. Books provide the doorway to learn more about the things we know and introduce us to what we have yet to discover. Literacy is an important part of life and education and it is necessary that a child is exposed to stories and books whenever possible to enhance not only his or her understanding and pronunciation of words and their meanings but also the many aspects that are entwined with life and the world.

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