As a result of this training the participant will be able to:
1. Explain the advantages of storytelling.
2. Define the nine different genres of literature for children.
3. Outline the steps to follow when reading aloud to children.
As important area of a classroom is the library area. Books, flannel boards, tapes and other storytelling equipment are located in this area. The books should be arranged in an appealing manner. The book covers should be visible to attract the children’s interest. Books should be arranged so they will not fall after one is removed. The library area should be located away from traffic. The books for the library area should be carefully chosen. Each child’s developmental needs should be considered. You may wish to include books on topics children in the group are facing such as divorce, illness, and death. Some books, such as the children’s favorites, can remain in the area continually. Other books can be rotated frequently. Fun books should always be available. Add new books often to stimulate children’s interest and enthusiasm. You may want to borrow books from the public library, friends and parents.
Nine Genres of Children's and Adolescent Literature
When we think of children’s literature, we typically think of books that we enjoyed as a child or we enjoy reading to children now. We often do not think about the different genres, or categories, of books. This class will help you to understand a little more about the different genres of children’s literature and how to use them in your classroom. Children’s literature content can be as board as our hopes, dreams and imagination. Children’s books of today typically reflect our ever changing and diverse world and those books help children make sense of what is going on in their life.
The first category of literature is that of Poetry and Verse. Poetry and verse is a way for an author to express their imaginative thoughts, perceptions and ideas in a very condensed language. The condensed language is typically written in rhythm and other devises of sounds, imagery, and figurative language. I think that creating a definition for poetry is one of the hardest things to do. Poetry does not have to rhyme and does not have a set pattern. Poetry is also sometimes hard to understand but with a little practice, anyone can gain knowledge and wisdom from poetry. My favorite poet is Robert Frost and I often read his poems to the children in my program. I have to change some of the words because they do not understand the concept, but I love to watch their eyes light up when we talk about each line of the poem.
The second category of literature is the Folklore. Folklore is stories that have been handed down from one generation to another. It is the use of traditional stories, myths, legends, nursery rhymes and songs from the past. They are often pasted down orally and without a known author. My father is ½ Cherokee American Indian and he raised me with many of stories that he had heard as a young child. Some of the stories go against everything I have ever learned in a science class, but I listen to them and I believe. My father telling me a folklore story is a memory of him that I will never forget. It is also the way that I learned about my grandparents, who had passed before I was born. Often times folklore stories do not have books where children can concentrate on the pictures. When you tell a folklore, you need to use all of the emotions you can to help them see the picture in their mind.
The third category of literature is Fantasy. Fantasy stories are set in places that do not exist in reality. The story line is often about creatures, peoples or events that could not take place in our reality. Fantasy books are great for younger children, because fantasy involves imagination and suspension of beliefs about reality -- a feat that children have a natural aptitude for. Fantasy literature is appealing to children and can introduce them to the joys of reading from a young age. Children's fantasy novels can help develop positive reading habits in children that they will keep for life.
The fourth category of literature is Science Fiction. The science fiction stories are typically based on unrealistic extending physical laws of science. These stories are typically set in a futuristic time and often on different planets or in space. As with fantasy, some science fiction is lighthearted: it relies on technological advances such as space travel to create the story. Many children are introduced to science fiction through some of these lighter stories. As our world and society changes, our science fiction will change too. Think about to the Back to the Future movies. Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) goes to the year 2015 and rides their version of a skateboard, but it is flies. We still have a couple of years before 2015, but the reality of it is that we do not have flying skateboards. Our society has changed and therefore, science fiction in the future will change.
The fifth category of literature is the Contemporary Realistic Fiction. These stories have a possibility of being in the real world, with real characters and a current trend setting. Many children love this category of literature because they can relate to it. They are able to see themselves in the story and understand how the story is developing. As educators I am sure you have seen young children and the way they ‘play’ to work through their emotions and feelings. In Contemporary Realistic Fiction the children are able to work through their personal issues or stress in the story. For example, if a child’s parents are going through a divorce, he would be able to relate and connect to a book regarding divorce.
The sixth category of literature is the Historical Fiction. These stories are set in the past and typically regarding realistic characters, events and settings. These stories may or may not be true, based on facts or of imagination. The key to historical fiction is the setting and timeline. Historical fiction is a specific genre, set in the past and pertaining to historical events or people. The work must walk a fine line between fact and fiction: presenting historical details accurately, but taking artistic license to insert fictitious characters and events as a means of illuminating the chosen subject.
The seventh category of literature is the Biography/Memoir. These types of books use actual facts regarding a particular person’s real life. A biography is simply the history of a lifetime. It narrates the most important facts of someone’s life, his or her childhood, adolescence, military service, wars he or she lived through, educational background, professional life, marriage, children, and most outstanding achievements. Also it tells anecdotes, memories, trips and dearly cherished moments. It is our most precious legacy to the world and mainly to our family. A biography involves a whole life, building a bridge between generations, bringing us close to our grandchildren, great grandchildren and future generations, planting in their hearts the pride of belonging
The eighth category of literature is Nonfiction. When we speak of nonfiction, we are talking about books that are informative and explain a subject of concept, which uses real facts of the real world. Nonfiction books are true books, about real life, and about aspects of life that are real. As time goes on, some books that are categorized as nonfiction turn out to not be real life. The important aspect of a nonfiction book is that at the time of the writing, it was thought to be true.
The ninth category of literature is Picture Books. A picture book is a format in which the art and text (if there is any text) are interdependent of each other. All of the first eight genres can appear in a picture book. There's nothing like a picture book to stir a child's imagination and spur the process of learning to read. A picture book combines visual and verbal narratives in a book format, most often aimed at young children. The images in picture books use a range of media such as oil paints, acrylics, watercolor, and pencil, among others. You can make your own picture books at places like shutterfly.com or snapfish.com. These picture books can be about the children in your program, you and the center. Picture books are a great way to get children interested in books.
I would have to say that the genre that I feel clearly distinct from the other eight is that of folklore. Generation after generation telling stories to their young is the folklore foundation (Galda & Cullinan, 2006). Most genres have one or two authors, and the storyline always stays the same. Folklore is different in that it does not have a specific author but rather each generation that tells the story adds and takes from it what they like. This gives the story the culture values in which to grow and develop. Folklore is shaped by individuals and their culture but encompasses universal experiences and viewpoints. When I think of folklore I think of my ancestors. My father was born on an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma and was raised with many of the Indian folklore. I never meet my grandmother, but I can remember being a little girl and being at my aunt’s house. She would gather all the children up in her bed before bedtime. She told us the most vivid stories I have ever heard. They were stories that her mother and grandmother had told her as a child. They are like no stories I had ever before or since and nothing can ever compare to them for me.
There are many characteristics that can overlap in the nine genres. For example, poetry and verse can be seen in any other type of genres. I have seen books in the science fiction, picture books, and even historical fact genres written with a poetry and verse rhythm. Poetry is able to say very important facts and ideas in a simple but memorable way (Galda & Cullinan, 2006). It is the rhythmic and rhymed words that children find appealing and want to hear more. When important information is put into a poetry and verse format, children are able to remember the information and even can repeat it often. Every year there are more and more books of poetry that are published. (p. 15). There is research that shows that when a child learns poetry by heart that it will stay with them for a lifetime. I remember learning Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” in the fifth grade and to this very day I can recite it word for word. I love that poem and it gave me a love for Robert Frost and other poets. Teachers can put any information into poetry and verse rhyme and it will help children to remember the facts.
Another characteristic that overlaps between two genres is that of historical ideas. The genres Historical Fiction tells stories that are set in the past. The events that occur in the book may or may not be true historical facts, but the idea and concept is from the past (Galda & Cullinan, 2006). Just like in many Biographies, the important facts give us historical meaning to our world, our cultural, and our idea of our community. Biographies are stories about a person’s real life. They are not always about someone from the past, but often they are. I remember being in school and having to do biography book reports. Both historical fiction and biography give us a sense of our past in many different avenues. Both can be written in regard to sports figures, national leaders, and even everyday people. My husband went to 12 years of public school with twins Ronde and Tiki Barber, who both went on to be famous football players. Brian has pictures of the three of them playing softball, flag football, and just hanging out in each other’s basements as kids. He has memories of his two friends that the majority of Americans will never know about. Ronde and Tiki have books written about them both from official biography and some that are more of a person’s viewpoint of the twin’s childhood. Brian reads these books on his famous friends and remembers many of the stories that are being told. For me, it is a brand new look into the childhood of two famous sports figures that I would have never gotten to see if not for the books. Both the official historical fiction and biography have been written in regard to the brothers, and many of the facts of their childhood are in both genres.
Challenges in using Appropriate Literature
I use literature multiple times a day in my classroom. I read to the kids at least 4 times each day. During our large group time I read a story that goes along with the activities we are doing in group. I read another time to the older children and do an activity with the story. I read at least one book before naptime to help everyone calm down some. Lastly I read different books in the afternoon that the children have requested. I believe that a literacy rich program is what the children in my classroom deserve. Literature can be so much more than just a story. By being actively involved with the children before, during and after the story, their mind will expand and grow. A literature rich classroom isn’t all about just reading a story. It is about making sure that you expand into science, math, social studies and other concepts while reading.
Because I am a private preschool I only answer to myself, parents and the children in my care instead of having to answer to a school board or state. I do not have the normal challenges like finding time in the day to read to the kids, or being worried about standards and test (Galda, Cullinan, & Sipe 2010). I do however still have other challenges. I need to make sure that I select book that are multidimensional for all the children in my classroom. I have a variety of different backgrounds in the children that attend my preschool program. Each child in my classroom is different, comes from a different background and will interrupted literature in a different way. Since children’s literature is very diverse and culturally rich today each individual reader will have a different experience with it. I never want to censor the children’s literature as long as it is age and ability appropriate, but I also want to make sure and give a variety of diverse literature. Diversity is a large concept that can be about gender, age, geographic locations, marital status, parental statues, educational status, physical characteristics, minority and majority groups, and other facts that can influence individual personality and behavior (Koppelman, 2008). It is important for me to make sure and include all appropriate diverse concepts into the literature that makes up my classroom. That is very time consuming to try and be equal between all of the different diverse concepts.
My hardest challenge is that of providing diversity of content. Since diversity is not an easy concept and many people don’t understand exactly what it is. Our community is woven from many different cultural and we overlap in areas. I live in a small town, and this last weekend found out exactly how hard it was to find books that qualify for cultural diversity in my town. It is important for children to be exposed to culturally diverse literature for many reasons. As our world changes to become more culturally diverse, so will literature to reflect the changing world. As our society changes, so does the award winning books that we want our children to hear. I can go to the Fort Worth Texas Library, which is about 30 miles away but my life is busy. I also can have the Fort Worth Library send me books to my library, but I like to flip through a book before I borrow it. The foundation that I give the children in my classroom should include the interest and concerns of the larger community. I have over 250 children’s books in my own private collection, many that are culturally diverse, but I wanted something new for the children and I couldn’t get it. Not only was I disappointed in my local library, but I also couldn’t find what I wanted at my local Borders or Half Price Books.
How to Pick a Quality Book Stories should reflect the children’s developmental level, backgrounds and experience. When choosing books for children, consider the content, illustrations, vocabulary, durability, and length of the book. Familiar objects, people and situations make stories more interesting to children. Stories about children with backgrounds and activities similar to their own are special. I have two brothers in my daycare right now who are football obsessed. They think about football all the time and that is all they want to play. Their favorite book is By My Brother's Side by two NFL Football players, Ronde and Tiki Barber. My husband went to school with Ronde and Tiki, so sometimes he will get his old yearbooks out and show the children in my care their pictures as a child. Most preschool children cannot separate fact from fiction; therefore it is important to look for realistic stories. Until children are about five years old, they are often not ready for fantasy. Books in which animals or inanimate objects such as trees and flowers behave as humans should be avoided for the very young child.
Illustrations create interest and arouse children’s imagination. The pictures in a book for young children should almost tell the story by themselves. Children will be more interested if they can “read’ the story by looking at the picture. Pictures should be easy to recognize and help the children make sense of the story. Good pictures also help the children anticipate what happens next in the story. Too much detail and shading or lack of color will confuse young children. Instead, children respond best to brightly colored pictures with large, clearly defined objects.
~be large, colorful and plentiful
~represent the written word
~reflect actions while avoiding unneeded detail
~be realistically and attractively colored
A good children’s book uses words that can be understood by most children of a certain age. Only a few new words should be introduced in a story. Repetition of some words will increase the children’s enjoyment. This rhythm of word sounds is one major reason children enjoy stories such as Mother Goose tales and Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss books can also often be used as first readers because of the simple language and rhythm of word pattern.
Children should be allowed to hold and carry books as well as turn pages. Therefore, covers and pages must be sturdy. Covers made of strong, washable material are best. Pages should be easy to handle. The page surface should be dull to prevent glare. The book’s binding should be flat when the book is open.
Appropriate book length varies with children’s age. Infants and toddlers may stay with a book for just a few minutes. Their books are often only a few pages long. Two year olds will remain interested in a book for around 5-8 minutes, three year olds will remain interested in a book for around 6-10 minutes, four year olds will remain interested in a book for around 8-12 minutes, and five year olds will remain interested in a book for about 10-15 minutes. This interest is reflected in the number of pages in a book. Remember, you can always stop a story and come back to it at a later time in the day. When you do this, remember to always refresh the children’s minds about what you read earlier that morning.
My view on Censorship
When I went to the book store last week, I looked over many different books. I looked at books that I found interesting, that I thought the children would find interesting, and looked for a book that I find acceptable. I am selecting a book based on making sure that I find one that does not offend my personal taste. Since I pick the books for the children in my class I am also picking books that will not offend their personal cultural, family dynamics, community or religious thoughts. When they start selecting books, they will be able to select books based on their personal taste and desires. When I am selecting reading material for my classroom I am basing my selection on age and maturity appropriate literary and educational materials. Censorship is when we suppress reading materials for others. Censorship doesn’t normally solve any issues because what one person thinks is offensive, might not be the same as what another person thinks is offensive.
The National Council of Teachers of English has five comparison levels to show censorship over selection. The first level is that when someone is using censorship it will exclude certain materials, while selection includes certain materials to give a board range on the collections. Second, when someone uses censorship they are being negative against the literature while when they use selection they are using affirmation of the literature. The third level is that when someone tries to control the reading materials of others they are using censorship, while when they try to advise the reading materials they are using selection. The fourth level of censorship involves someone who wants to limit access to specific ideas and information while seeking to educate and increase the availability of certain ideas and information is selection. The last comparison is that censorship will look only at certain ideas or parts of a work in isolation where selection looks at the work as a whole and the relationship of different parts to each other.
People give reasons for the desired censorship, but I think those are excuses. Many adults believe that literature in regard to ethnic or racial minorities is still too controversial for most Americans (National Council of Teachers of English, 1981). I do not believe that anyone has the right to tell me what I read might be too controversial for me in any regard. I do however believe that I must make sure and find quality diverse literature for the children in my classroom. My own children’s English teachers at school should be allowed to do the same. If they are quality teachers they will know the children’s reading level and are qualified to recommend books for individual students. I don’t think that administrators or board members who have never seen my child is best to decide what they should read. When teachers are selecting materials for their classroom they must make sure and think about each child’s background and community (National Council of Teachers of English, 1996). We have to take into account more than age appropriateness when selecting literature materials. The maturity level of children might not be the same as their biological age. I do believe that quality teachers should have the education and knowledge to select proper literature for my children, but as a parent I also want the right to be involved. My son watched “The Patriot” this year in ninth grade History. The school sent home a note explaining why they were going to show the movie and the parts that they had already cut from the movie because they felt it wasn’t appropriate. I had to sign an acceptance form for him to watch the movie and participate in the discussion in class. I don’t often agree with my local school district but I was very happy to see the way they handled this situation.
Culturally Diverse Literature Culturally diverse literature has a big impact on young children, adolescent and even adults. I believe that the more children are exposed to culturally diverse literature the more of a foundation they will have to culturally aware as they grow older. As our world changes to become more culturally diverse, so will literature to reflect the changing world (Galda, Cullinan, & Sipe 2010). I was born in 1967 in Texas and was never raised to even think about another cultural. I remember the books in my classroom were all about white boys and girls and the adventures they got into. Children were not given the opportunity to learn about anyone from another race or cultural. It saddens me to remember the gender stereotyping that was in our picture books. I still have a book titled “What Little Girls Can Be” and it talk about how we can be a nurse, a mommy, a teacher, a friend, nursery worker and singer. The book did not give girls the thought foundation that they could be anything more than just a few things when they grew up. I keep this book to remind myself and my own children how far we have come as a society. In “10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children's Books for Racism and Sexism” the first thing to look for is stereotypes. I believe my book would more than fit the stereotype category.
When I was a child I was only exposed to one way of thinking. I wasn’t given the opportunity for my literature to be diverse at all. That is not what I want for the children of my classroom. As I thought about the diversity within diversity a lot of different thoughts came to mind. When I think of diversity I think of the definition “the presence of human beings with perceived or actual differences based on a variety of human characteristics.” (Kippelman, 2008, p. 15). Diversity is the concept of many factors that have individual personality and behavioral influences. When we think of diversity within diversity I think of how learning about different cultural changes us. We become diverse within our own believes at time. I have neighbors who are from El Salvador. When they first moved in I didn’t know anything about El Salvador, their food, music or anything at all. I have learned how to cook some great traditional food and even enjoy some of their music. By living in a diverse neighborhood with them, I have actually changed some. It is really neat to have the entire neighborhood out at one time because even though 7 out of 10 families were born and raised in Texas, we are all different. There are many ways we are different and many similarities in our characteristics.
Efferent and Aesthetic reading I have always read to the children in my classroom, my own children, and myself and usually from an aesthetic point of view. I love to read and want to help children to have a love for reading also. I think if we make it fun for children to read and learn through text, they will stick to it and enjoy it also. Even when children will start to read from an efferent experience, they often will connect to the text and their reading will become an aesthetic experience. Aesthetic reading is for entertainment. Efferent reading is reading to carry away information; the focus is on the information in the text and illustration and not focused on the experience of reading for entertainment
In aesthetic reading the reader will focus on the personal meaning of the story that connects to the reader (Galda, Cullinan, & Sipe, 2010, p. 36). The reader will find blanks in the reading that they will fill in and also connect with the text in a personal way. Each literature experience will be very unique to different readers. The reader is enjoying the text for the experience and the opportunity to live inside the story world for a while. The connection that the reader makes with the story is on a personal emotional level. Each individual will connect with different stories or maybe just parts of the story. The reader will have a reaction to the individual parts and ideas of a story and will discover how their own values might be developed or reflected by the story. The reader often will think about what they would personally do if they were a part of the story. It is that connection that they build with the story that makes reading enjoyable. At times we must read books from an efferent stance which means that we are reading purely for the information in the text. This information that we gather out of the text will be transformed into knowledge that we can use to behavior in the world. Students must read for an efferent experience all the time in public schools. I see my own children reading a historical book for the pure reason to memorize facts for school. They complain the entire time they are reading, and are not making a personal connection to the story at all.
Most people read for both aesthetic and efferent experiences. It depends on the reader to determine if the reading is for an efferent or aesthetic reading experience, not the information in the text. Last year, my daughter had to read Robert Frost, which is my favorite poet, for school. She was so upset and didn’t want to take the time to not only read poetry, but also memorize it and decorate a poster to reflect what she felt about the poem. After her first day of reading Frost, she was in love. She found out exactly how much she really loved poetry and she connected with it. She started reading beautiful poems for an efferent experience, but it soon turned into an aesthetic experience when she made a personal connection to the poems. I have found myself having the same experience in the last year. My passion for learning as much as I can to make my child care program the best, I find myself reading materials as much as possible. I order books upon books of child care related information off the internet. I start to read for the pure reason to gain knowledge which will make my program better, but I finish reading the information because I become passionate about it. I make this connection to the reading material when I start to think about how the children in my child care would react to the information. I make a personal connection to the text and it becomes a very enjoyable reading experience. My own life experience and passion for children is what makes me connect to the reading material.
I have always loved poetry and my favorite poet is Robert Frost. I remember my father reading his poetry to us before bed when I was a little girl. My father always believed that everyone should be diverse in the literature they read, so he tried to always make sure we were exposed to multiple genres. I have tried to do the same with my own children, and hope I have been able to achieve that goal. Many different literatures can be described as poetry but it is very hard to put a clear cut definition on it (Galda, Cullinan, & Sipe, 2010, p. 139). Poetry is a combination of words that have special rhythm and at times will also rhyme. The poems can make us laugh, cry and have some very precise emotions so deep inside of us that it is hard to explain. Poems are full of rich, vibrant language that will pull you into the details of the words.
There is a checklist to help adults assess the quality of poetry. The reader of the poetry should find the content of interest and easy for them to understand. This is very important because children and even adults will not pay attention to something they find boring or too challenging. A poem will sing to the reader when they connect. The innovative language will be designed and patterned in a way that will have enhanced the reader to continue. The poet will have chosen his words very carefully and placed them a flowing rhythm to enhance the meaning of the poem. The words will be placed in a specific pattern or form that will help the reader be able to connect and understand the poets desired poem subject and mood. It is that connection between reader and the poem that makes it so special.
I believe that all genres have a place in early childhood classrooms. I love to see the expressions on young children’s faces when they hear poetry. Their little minds will start to move because they have the ability to let their imagination take over and form a picture. They can make the poem come to life! I don’t have as many children poetry books as I would like and I know I need to add more to my library. The children enjoy poetry and even enjoy writing their own. Yes, I believe young children can write poetry and even stories. I love to listen to children as they come up with poetry ideas. They can see it come to written form when I write it on sentence strips or in their journals. Children benefit from hearing poems and we don’t need sill gimmicks to grab their attention. (p. 168). What we need is a variety of poetry books and the desire to share them with young children. The more young children are able to participate and create their own poetry the more their creative juices will flow. They are able to put their own personal experiences into poetry for others to hear. It is a great tool to help them learn an appropriate way to express their feelings.
Creating Stories is an Essential Part of Being Human Generation after generation telling stories to their young is the folklore foundation. When the majority of parents think of spending time with their children now, they think of watching movie, TV show, or playing a video game. Before there was technology or even the ability for everyone to read and write, there were folklore stories. When I think of folklore I think of my ancestors. My father was born on an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. His mother loved Indian folklore and made sure my father and his siblings were raised with many stories. I never meet my grandmother, but I can remember being a little girl and being at my aunt’s house. She would gather all the children up in her bed before bedtime. She told us the most vivid stories I have ever heard. She didn’t need pictures or a flannel board to keep our attention because the details and story line did just that. They were stories that her mother and grandmother had told her as a child. They are like no stories I had heard before or since and nothing can ever compare to them for me. The stories my aunt told me were similar to the stories my grandmother had started. With folklore, each story teller is able to add or delete a little from the story. This makes it so special to the individual families that are repeating it. There is something special about having a young child glued to your every word as you hold their attention with the thoughts that come out of your mouth.
When we are speaking of folklore we have a very broad area to discuss. There are many folklore categories so everyone from infancy to adulthood can enjoy the genre. Young children love Nursery Rhymes and they have become a foundation of many children’s literacy programs. Children, and adults, like the rhythm and rhyme of the story. Children are able to recite the silly nonsense words that make up the story. There are no regional, ethnic, cultural or language boundaries when it comes to nursery rhymes. Young children are often told stories that are very similar in verse from all over the world. There are stories now in print, but many are still handed down by word of mouth and there are a variety of collections and versions of the stories. It is this reciting of stories from parent to child that keeps the story alive, changing with each generation able to express themselves through stories.
Another wonderful type of folklore is that of Tall Tales. Tall Tales are an American form of folktales and the majority of them are indigenous to the United States. Each human being wants to be known for doing something special. I want to be remembered as a loving teacher that never turned a child away. I believe it is that drive that gave the earliest American settlers the humor to start tall tales of their enormous strength within the harsh realities of a much untamed land. The tall tales were a creation of heroes who became the mightiest and strongest of all people. Some of their heroes were lumberjacks, railroad men, coal miners, riverboat drivers, and steel workers but many were ordinary real people with a description of being larger than life. This being larger than life is a way we still remember many of these real life people today. I can remember my father telling me tall tales about Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone to help me remember who they were in history when I had trouble with the information from school. As these stories get told from generation to generation people are able to escape into the story and even become a part of it. As the stories get retold, the hero can also become more and more larger than life.
A type of folklore my daughter is learning about in school right now is that of Folk Songs. Songs are easy to remember, recite and understand. Folk songs have shaped and preserved cultural heritages for years. The rhythm of folk songs unfolds as the creator captures their thought. Many songs were a way for people to escape the reality of boredom by filling their song with the creator’s spirit. The songs were often about people who were working hard to make a community like railroad workers, people who dug tunnels and those who sailed the ships. Many people were still unable to write or read, but they could put their thoughts into a tune for others to hear, understand and remember. My daughter is in her second play this year at her school. This one is a musical titled “Yankee Doodle”. I love seeing the excitement in her eyes as she learns the songs and the reason behind each one. She already knew the story of Yankee Doodle, but she had never acquired a deep appreciation of it until now. Songs are able to capture our souls and are very easy for young children to create. I use to put information into a song form for my own children to remember facts for school. It has always amazed me at how they could remember their history dates when we put them to a melody. They soon learned to create their own songs, and use them even in high school.
As with past generations we are still creating stories as part of exploring and understanding our world and community. As we tell stories to the next generation, they will be able to remember what life was like for us. My kids love to hear about my childhood in the 1970s and how different it is then the childhood they have. My 14 year old daughter just cannot come to understand why we didn’t have a car phone when I was a child. I have tried to explain how expensive they were then, but she doesn’t get it. When I tell the stories of our family history, my childhood, and even the stories of theirs I am helping my children to understand who they are and where they come from. I believe it is very natural for all humans to want to know where we came from. Many times knowing where we have been, will also help us to know where we are going. The more I explain to my own children of past generations, the more they will understand about their ancestors.
Fantasy, Science Fiction and Folklore
The foundation for science fiction and fantasy is the genre of folklore but there are still many differences. Folklore isn’t just written by one person, but rather a group of people down different generations. As people take and add to the folklore they change the story to reflect who they are and reflect their community. Science fiction and fantasy are written by one person and not changed over time. Characters, places and even events that are unable to happen in real life are the foundation for the fantasy genre. (p. 16) Children and adults alike can enjoy the world of fantasy books. Even though fantasy books contain a story line that isn’t possible in the real world, they also have a plot, development of characters and a setting to hold the reader’s attention. When an author takes facts and the “what ifs” into the future we are able enjoy the world of science fiction. When we read science fiction we read about ideas, events, technology and even worlds that might exist someday. There are many times when a science fiction or fantasy author will incorporate very serious issues into their storyline. These issues might be too hard for children to comprehend in a realistic viewpoint. When we use the imaginative world to explore the issues of war, cruelty and even enslavement a child, and adults at time, are able to have the opportunity to work through the issues in a pretend world.
My son, as with many children, the fantasy genre was his very first experience with love for literature. Children often are able to connect to the fantasy world and able to find their love for reading before they move to other genres. Many move toward the science fiction over fantasy as they mature. To help children find the joy in science fiction teachers should be encouraged to read it out loud to the children in their classrooms. When we read to the children we are able to encourage them to expand their interest. When children are able to expand their imagination through these books they are able to also push through questions they might have within their own life. Children are able to wonder through the world of science fiction and fantasy to stretch their souls, imagination, and creativity.
Words have power. When we put words into a story we are putting ourselves into that storyline. When we think about children we know that what we say to them has just as much impact on them as what we do to them. When we allow them to explore literature in a way that they enjoy, they will want to continue to explore that literature. We can encourage their desire for reading when we offer a story in the folklore, fantasy and science fiction genre because children will be able to use their expanding imagination also. Children often get distracted from or become bored with reading stories they are not interested. When we allow them the opportunity to read these genres we are allowing them the opportunity to fall in love with reading. This love of reading they develop at an early age through fantasy, science fiction and folklore will cross over to other genre as the child matures. These three genres have a lot of power in regard to grabbing a child’s attention and developing it into a love for reading which will last a lifetime.
Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Contemporary realistic fiction is a genre that has the power to connect to children and adolescents in a very strong way. It deals with issues, events and even people of the current time and what could actually happen (Galda, Cullinan, & Sipe, 2010). A portrait of the real world and all of its issues and dimensions is the bases for contemporary realistic fiction. There are themes that show real world events and issues. The storyline can be humorous, sensitive, thoughtful, joyful, and even painful in regard to real life issues. Sensitive and controversial issues are the bases of the plot and themes of contemporary realistic fiction. The stories do not solve complex issues with an easy answer or easy fix. The literature will reflect the society that created it and just like in society there are few easy answers.
As children and adolescents read contemporary realistic fiction, they are able to relate to it. The storyline will help them to work through their own issues and events of life. With the world and society changing, so does literature. With this change young readers are able to be familiar with the stories of the day. The contemporary realistic fiction theme and storyline of my adolescents in the 1970s and 1980s is different than that of my children’s life in 2010. There are common issues like drugs, sex, racism, stereotyping, peer pressure, family relationships, and cultural differences, but the way we handle them as young adults is different. Therefore, the contemporary realistic fiction of my day would not help my children as much, work through their issues today. Contemporary realistic fiction books are written in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, but I see changes occurring in ten year periods of time also. Often, an author’s own life might influence his writing. Escaping to world that is similar to our own helps young adults work through their own issues.
A big part of adolescence is figuring out who we are. Through contemporary realistic fiction young adults can often go through a journey of self-discovery. This self-discovery happens rather a young adult reads contemporary realistic fiction or not, but with the reading can come an easier road to self-discovery. My middle child’s girlfriend, Katie, has struggled with anorexia for the last couple of years and has had a very rough upbringing. She has always thought negative thoughts about herself and had a hard time with peer relationships. Since most contemporary realistic fiction deal with more than one theme, Katie could benefit from reading a book that related to her life. Katie is a good girl, but is lost and in a journey of self-discovery. I plan on finding out what book I might be able to get for her to help.
As with any book list I want to make sure that all the books are of quality literature. If I was making a list of contemporary realistic fiction for children, there is a lot to be considered. I want children to enjoy the books I provide and be interested in them. It is important for me to know that they are going to gain something from the experience of reading the story.
I would make sure that the story has interesting characters that reflect the people in real life (Galda, Cullinan, & Sipe, 2010). Contemporary realistic fiction books are written in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The characters will need to change, grow and mature as the story continues. The main characters must be believable, authentic and never stereotypical. They must be developed fully and multidimensional. It is important that the characters represent real life humans. Characters should sound natural in dialogue and thoughts. The reader should never be overwhelmed by the dialect or diction. The characters in the book must be in a realistic setting also. The setting must either already exist or be one that could possible exist. The setting must be detailed and vividly described while it supports the details of the story. After I look at the characters and the setting it is very important to take a look at the plot. A story must have a plot that is believable. The issues and problems of the story must be realistically able to be solved and grounded culturally. The plot must take into account the targeted audience and how they will be influenced. Contemporary society will be reflected in the book. The theme should be reflective of issues that are current in our society. Books should also have multiple themes to add depth and interest.
As a writer it is important to always be sensitive to issues that could possible bother or hurt readers. When writing about controversial issues one must be extra careful. The themes change as society changes in contemporary realistic fiction. We must always be careful to change our writing to reflect the socially changes and language pattern. A writer that wrote about a African American that ran away from home in the 1950s would use a different language pattern than one that wrote about the same theme in today’s society. Since this class started, I went back and looked at some of my old books from my childhood. Books described women, minorities, and lower class citizens in a very different light 30 years ago. It is very sad that is the way our society was, and I am glad we are headed toward a change now. Our books should reflect that change also.
Contemporary Realistic Fiction VS Historical Fiction Depending on when you were born and in what society you were brought up will reflect where you draw the line between contemporary and historical fiction. Contemporary realistic fiction deals with issues, events and even people of the current time and what could actually happen. A portrait of the real world and all of its issues and dimensions is the bases for contemporary realistic fiction. Historical fiction also deals with real world issues, but not in today’s times, but that of the past. Both must be based on realistic events that could occur and characters that have been developed into people with depth that could be from the time period. The biggest difference is that historical fiction is set in the past instead of the present. Historical fiction is not a biography because it isn’t focused on facts, but rather in the issues of the time period. The author will use the historical facts to create a fictional story that is realistic to the reader. Historical fiction books might have started out as contemporary realistic fiction but because of the time frame since they were written they have changed genre.
I think that children who are reading contemporary realistic fiction have a way to escape to a world that they understand. They are able to use the storyline and theme of realistic issues to relate to their own life. Every teenager needs to be able to find a connection to the stories they read, and being able to relate to the issues is a strong connection. Children are able to get information about our history through historical fiction. I know that normally historical fiction is not based on facts, but it does give children an idea of the past. In quality historical fiction, the writer will have been able to use the history as a backdrop for an interesting story. If the author is successful in blending the setting, characters, language, and historical events into the background, the reader will then not knowingly be able to connect to the historical viewpoint.
Teachers need to make sure and offer contemporary realistic fiction books because they are set in today’s world with plausible storylines. The storyline will connect with the student because the characters are often like people we already know with events and actions that could easily occur in the student’s everyday life. Teachers need to put interesting stories into the hands of young readers. When we put a story set in the past that holds the child’s attention, we are helping to give the child a love for reading and a love for history. The past will come alive for the student and they will normally seek out more information. Children will also be able to see how much they are alike the people from our past.
Quality Children’s Literature Quality children’s and adolescent literature is essential for the children in our classrooms. There are literally thousands of books and reading materials targets at young children and adolescents each year. As a teacher we must overcome the challenge of picking just any book and really researching the contents to see if it passes our quality checklist. I think that when we really look at the criteria for different genre we are able to more easily select books that are suitable for the various children’s interest and even ages in our classrooms. As teachers we often encourage children to read or we read to them, but we often don’t look at the quality of the storyline. We end up doing the children in our classroom a disservice because they can benefit so much more when we use quality literature. I believe that all genres have a place in early childhood classrooms and as a teacher it is our duty to make sure we pick quality books.
When we speak of quality children and adolescent literature we are speaking about literature that will capture their mind and hold their attention. It is important for the child to be interested in the plot, characters, and storyline. Quality books will be able to change as the story moves along, to continue and capture the child’s attention. The characters will need to change, grow and mature as the story continues. The characters and storyline in quality literature must never be stereotypical. Quality literature will make sure and portray the cultural group and their value in authentic ways. The language must be rich and written in a way to invite the children to continue. The language and language pattern of the book must not be boring but very interesting and changing. The illustrations must represent the story, not distract from it. The illustrations need to have a color and shape pattern that will keep a child’s eyes focused on the page.
A part of being quality literature is that of being culturally diverse. When we provide a wide range of literature from multiple genres we are able to incorporate a more diverse literature program. When we select books that reflect diversity in cultural, nationalities, races, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity and even family structures we are providing a better realistic world for the child and adolescent to explore. When children and adolescents read or are read to, the experience with the book is going to have an influence on how they shape their world. When we provide a more realistic view of global society, that influence will be more diverse, this in turn, will be richer.
Reading is a basic foundation to learning. When we use a language rich literacy program we can incorporate all aspects of learning including math, science and social studies. If we are using reading as a foundation to other learning concepts, then we must provide the highest quality of reading that we possibly can. To provide anything less would not only be a disservice to the children in regard to literacy, but also in regard to other educational aspects. Children are able to explore worlds that they might never get to visit in quality literacy.
The words once upon a time contain magic for young children. The art of storytelling has delighted millions of children throughout the ages. By inviting children to share in a make believe world of adventure, the story telling provides a strong educational tool. Storytelling is an important task for child care teachers. It involves reciting a story or reading from a book. In most centers, storytelling is routine. Storytelling is a valuable experience for children because they develop a love for both stories and books. This in turn can enhance their language development. Moreover, children develop an understanding of customs and culture through traditional stories.
Regular storytelling promotes children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Storytelling helps young children:
~understand other people
~develop a positive attitude toward books
~develop listening skills
~build correct concepts of objects and ideas
~form new ideas
~understand that printed words carry meanings
~develop an appreciation of printed words
~develop a desire to read
~learn that people read from left to right and across a page
Carefully chosen stories are a key part of the storytelling experience. Stories that draw on the children’s backgrounds help them understand themselves better. Children learn the words that describe feelings and experiences they have. They learn to think about familiar situations in new ways. Stories invite children to explore and wonder about their world. Stories also provide models of acceptable behavior and positive relationships. When exposed to a variety of characters, children learn that other people often feel the same way they do. They learn how people express their feelings. They become more understanding of other’s needs.
Storytelling helps children learn reading skills. As a teacher reads aloud from a book, children learn to follow the pages from left to right and top to bottom. By watching the storyteller read, children learn the relationship between spoken and printed words. They also learn to listen. Books help children learn alphabet letters, numerals and language. Storytelling is also a good form of relaxation. Listening to a story is a quiet activity that children enjoy. Children are not moving about or interacting with other children. Storytelling is a great activity right before naptime, or right after. It is also a great activity to do with children that wake up early from nap, or don’t take a nap at all.
A flannel board story is one of the most popular listening activities for young children. Flannel board or felt board, storytelling uses characters and props cut out of felt and placed on a felt background. Flannel boards may be purchased from school supply stores and catalogs or made by the teacher. To make a board you will need a piece of foam insulation board, 27 X 17 ½ inches. This material can be bought at your local Wal-Mart. To prepare the board, cover it with two contrasting pieces of felt both 29 X 19 ½ inches. The two pieces provide different colored backgrounds for felt figures. Pieces of paper, cardboard or felt are used to show major characters or objects. These may be hand drawn, bought, cut from a second story book or printed off the computer. A quick way to make figures is to use a nonwoven interfacing fabric. Hold the fabric in place and trace over a pattern with black felt pen. Fill in the areas you wish to brighten.
Before you present a flannel board story, you will need to do some advance preparation. Practice reading the story script several times. Check your flannel board figures and place them in order of use. Keep the figures on your lap in a flat box or basket when you tell the story. Avoid placing the figures on the floor as curious children may pick them up. This could interfere with the success of the story. It is important for you to place the figures on the flannel board one at a time. Like writing the figures should follow a left to right sequence. Practice telling the story and placing the figures on the board. For emphasis, look directly at the figure as you places it on the board. After you finish telling a story leaves the assembled board in the book area. The children will enjoy using the flannel board figures to retell the story or create new tales. By observing and listening you will be able to assess their understanding of the story. You may even want to encourage the children to create their own stories by providing those figures from a variety of stories.
Galda and Cullin wrote “Teachers can foster transforming experiences with literature...” (2006, p. 325). I have always believed that children can be taken on the most wonderful adventures through literature. As a teacher we not only have the ability to do this for children but the responsibility also. I loved books as a child and my father encouraged me to read any chance I could. I was able to make my own life into something so different when I read. I want to give that to the children in my care now. I want them to be able to fly with the birds, or swim with the fish as we read. I want them to be in faraway lands and imagine their world as a much broader place. I believe that a literacy rich program is what the children in my classroom deserve. Literature can be so much more than just a story. By being actively involved with the children before, during and after the story, their mind will expand and grow. A literature rich classroom isn’t all about just reading a story. It is about making sure that you expand into science, math, social studies and other concepts while reading.
Galda & Cullinan also wrote “Literature contributes to language growth and development.” (2006, p. 5). This quote is so true and can be proven just by observing in any quality literature rich classroom. When teachers provide a quality literature rich classroom they are helping the children in so many ways. Children of all ages benefit from literature and it will help with the development of not only language, but also cognitive, emotional, social and so much more. Children who are read to on a daily bases, and encouraged to read on their own are given tools to succeed in life. As a part of a literature rich program, infants and toddlers will be able to hear words spoke and have a bonding time with the adult as the story continues. This story time is important for not only reading, but also communicating with the infants and toddlers. Infants and toddlers will start to make sounds, repeat words, and just be engulfed in the wonderful sounds of language. As children grow into preschool years they will start to see a connection between the written word and the spoken word. This connection will help them mature and grow in a way that will prepare them for primary school. After children enter primary schools their language will develop when they are exposed to more challenging vocabulary words. This growth in vocabulary will help them with future projects, work assignments and even after graduation. Quality literature and the experiences that go along with it are something that sets a solid foundation for the rest of our lives.
Children not only can benefit from quality literature, they have a right to it. It is our duty as teachers to make sure we have a literacy rich program that also is incorporated into the other aspects of our program. The kids we care for and teach deserve the best possible start in regard to education that they can receive. By providing a quality literacy program, that is what teachers will be given them.
I have put on my website an Annotated Booklist that you can look at. It tells you books that I enjoy using with young children, why, and some information regarding them.
Galda, L., Cullinan, B. E., & Sipe, L.R. (2010). Literature and the Child (7th ed.). Belmount, CA: Wadsworth
Kippelman, K.L., (2008) Understanding Human Differences. Boston, MA: Person
National Council of Teachers of English. (2009). Guideline on The Student’s Right toRead. Retrieved from www.ncte.org/positions/statements/righttoreadguideline
National Council of Teachers of English. (1996). Guidelines for Selection of Materials in
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To receive credit for this 4 hour class, you must answer all of the questions and then mail this sheet into our office for grading. If you have any questions give us a call.
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1. The _________________ area should be located away from traffic.
2. Name the Nine Genres of Children's and Adolescent Literature:
3. Poetry is also sometimes hard to __________________ but with a little practice, anyone can gain knowledge and wisdom from poetry.
4. _____________ are stories that have been handed down from one generation to another.
5. The genres Historical Fiction tells stories that are set in the _____________________.
6. _______________________ is a large concept that can be about gender, age, geographic locations, marital status, parental statues, educational status, physical characteristics, minority and majority groups, and other facts that can influence individual personality and behavior.
7. Explain how to pick a Quality Book.
8. A good children’s book uses words that can be understood by most children of a certain ___________.
9. The National Council of Teachers of English has _____ comparison levels to show censorship over selection. (Hint: It is a number)
10. Culturally diverse literature has a big impact on young children, adolescent and even ___________.
11. Diversity is the concept of many factors that have individual personality and _____________influences.
12. __________________reading is reading to carry away information; the focus is on the information in the text and illustration and not focused on the experience of reading for entertainment.
13. In ___________________reading, the reader will focus on the personal meaning of the story that connects to the reader.
14. All genres have a place in early childhood classrooms. True or False
15. Generation after generation telling stories to their _____________ is the folklore foundation.
16. Tall Tales are an ______________ form of folktales and the majority of them are indigenous to the United States.
17. When we put _______________ into a story we are putting ourselves into that storyline.
18. Quality children’s and adolescent _______________ is essential for the children in our classrooms.
19. As a teacher reads _________________ from a book, children learn to follow the pages from left to right and top to bottom.
20. For children, listening to a story is a ______________ activity that they enjoy.
21. Please fill out the children’s book records below. You can use any books that you like. Please do not get worried about the Genre aspect of it. Many times one book could be included in many different genres. Look at the definition of the nine genres and think which would fit your book. Remember – use my list at http://www.shadetreelearning.org/resources/ as a guide. Use the back if needed.
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