What is Literature?

Children’s Literature Created by Debbie Bittenbender

Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com

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What is literature?
• Literature is thought, experiences and imagination shaped into oral or written language that may include visual images. • Literature entertains at the same time gives access to the accumulated experiences and wisdom of the ages. • Literature contributes to the reader/listeners growing experience--extending their knowledge while stimulating reflection • Literature explores, orders, evaluates, and illuminates the human experience--its heights, depths, pains and pleasures.
Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com 2

The Power of Literature
• Books:
• • • • • • • • • Enriches knowledge Broadens background knowledge Enhances language and cognitive development Develops imagination and sense of humor Goes beyond everyday experiences Provides aesthetic response Plays a significant role in children’s developmental journey Provides problem-solving alternatives Brings joy to children’s lives.
Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com 3

“By allowing our readers into the soul of a character we are letting them know more than life will ever divulge about another human being.”
• Katherine Patterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia

Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com

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Readers make books come alive!
• They relate the text to their own life in order to construct meaning within the text using the author’s words as meaning cues and constructing meaning for words based on personal knowledge, associations, and feelings. (Rosenblat1978 Smith 1998) A reader must bring something to the text in order to take something away from the text. Thus reading is a TRANSACTIONAL PROCESS. Readers response implies active involvement of the reader Includes both immediate reactions and later effects Cultivated through giving occasions to read, discuss, discover, consider,represent, and reread to make meaning their own.
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Readers and Books
• Appreciating Aesthetics --the beauty readers perceive in a literary work.

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-beauty of language -artistic interpretation of experiences, events and people

• Books that portray beauty and truth to many people become classics. • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White • Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatirx Potter • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
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• Enhances understanding of ourselves and others
• • • • Books stimulate emotional responses We laugh, cry, empathize, feel outraged, gain insights, feel compassion . Through stories children encounter death, love, loneliness, hard times, making tough decisions, Through stories children come to realize universal principles that we all face.

• Enhances understanding of other cultures
• • • Through stories children learn how people are more alike than different Through stories they develop tolerance for differences. Through stories they learn to appreciate the uniqueness of their own stories, customs and traditions as well as those of others.
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• Developing Imagination
• • • • • Imagination is creative, constructive power that is definitively linked to higher order thinking. Literature demonstrates the range of human imagination. Literature nourishes readers creative processes. Literature helps readers envision possibilities Literature such as fantasy, science fiction etc allows children to experience new worlds and events that they may not want to face in real life.

• Increases Information and Knowledge
• • • Children fascinated by the world around them Literature gives children a sense of people, animals, time, place, and events that they could not experience any other way. Provides experiences that young readers have not yet experienced for themselves, but may one day be able to have these same experiences.
Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com 8

• Stimulating Cognition
• Reading is thinking guided by print. • Literature serves as a sounding board for children’s attempts at reasoning. • Provides substance for reflection. • Literature provokes readers to analyze, synthesize, connect, and respond thoughtfully which facilitates cognitive development. • Literature is a forum that offers readers diverse perspectives on familiar topics by giving readers a safe medium for trying different roles, imagining new settings and puzzling out unique solutions to problems.
Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com 9

• Provides a Language Model
• Language and thinking are closely interrelated. • “The ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language.” (Didion 1968)

• Literature furnishes a richer model for language because authors use elaborate sentences and sumptuous words. • Literature uses wonderful, rich playful language that readers take on and try out.
Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com 10

Literature and the Curriculum
• • • • • • • Integrating literature into the curriculum enhances learning in all subject areas. Children learn best: -in social situations -when content is meaningful -is interrelated Balanced Reading Instruction
combines language and literature-rich activities that enhance meaning , understanding and love of literature with explicit teaching of proficient reading strategies. It focuses on both words and comprehension with meaningful reading, writing and discussion about what is read and written (Bear & Templeton 1998)
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Experiencing Literature
• Four major approaches to creating effective literary experiences: • -Story approach • -focus on literary elements and genres

-Great books/classics approach
- works of established literary value


-Author approach
-in-depth studies of authors


-Unit approach
-thematic units incorporating various literary genres
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The Teacher and Children’s Literature
• • • • • Teachers make the difference foster a love of reading share wonderful favorite books model thinking processes create warm literate environments • build communities of learners • teach how to read and write by making their thinking visible.

Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com

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• Teachers of reading need to: • -know a wide variety of books written for children
• • • - more than 6,000 books published a year -help children locate developmentally appropriate books based on interest -recognize qualities of good literature -read widely -can make informed choices -constantly update their units, author and genre studies


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-familiarize themselves with authors • -provide time for students to grow as readers everyday in a variety of ways • -understand a variety of genres and the characteristics that make up those genres
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• Teachers need to:
• • • • • • • • -encourage children’s response to literature -practice read aloud techniques -need to provide a variety of reading experiences -shared reading, independent reading, guided reading -whole class, small group and individual -develop authentic literary experiences -incorporate children’s literature across the curriculum -

Bittenbender, Debbie 2004 debucate@stny.rr.com

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