On Children’s Literature: Why You Should Read to Your Students
Children’s Literature as a Teaching Tool
A recent statistics released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that children who read more have higher chances in exceling in school compared to children who read less frequently. Young children who read a wide variety of literature enjoy substantial advantages, like strong reading comprehension skills, better cognitive development, and high cultural appreciation. Not only are children literature books vital in the development of intellectual skills; they are also important in teaching values, such as love, tolerance, and empathy. Literature for kids shows the complexities of human emotion and experiences. Children are able to see themselves represented by a character in a book, so they feel involved and are part of something bigger.
Appreciation for children classic literature starts at home and is nurtured in school. Therefore, parents and teachers should work together to attain a common goal of strengthening students’ cognitive intelligence and developing critical skills. Below are a few helpful techniques in using literature as a vital learning tool in the classroom:
- Multicultural Literature for Children
There is a Cinderella in Egypt, a Rapunzel in the Philippines, and a Snow White in Albania. Teaching diverse children literature in the classroom is a clever way of showing your students that there is a world outside their own.
Present a classic western fairy tale followed by a multicultural version. A good example is Cinderella as it has many variations across the globe. Allow the kids to point out the similarities, as well as the differences of the two fairy tales in terms of the character, setting, and culture. This will encourage children to hone their critical thinking skills, and require them to pay attention to detail.
- Developing Emotional Intelligence
One single classroom is filled with children who come from different backgrounds with varied circumstances and different experiences. The importance of children literature comes in when one child is in need of empathy due to a different cultural background or ethnicity. Exposing your students to multicultural literature allows them to relate with others, and feel empathy toward other kids.
Create cultural awareness through sharing biographies of international leaders who embody peace, love, and unity, such as Wangari Maathai, Nelson Mandela, or Dalai Lama. Create a checklist of these leaders’ character traits, or ask your students some questions like the ones below:
- What are the values and characteristics does this world leader have that made him or her unforgettable?
- If you will be given the chance to meet this person, what would you tell him or her?
- If you could be a world leader for a day, what would be your goal or aspiration? Why?
3. Dismissing Stereotypes
Cross-cultural books expose the children’s minds to different perspectives and circumstances. Examples of this kind of books are Days of Ahmed’s Secret and Cassio’s Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a Brazilian Village. This type of books foster keen observation on cross cultural differences through a narration of how a foreign child spends his day, from the moment he wakes up, to the time that he goes to bed.
After reading the story, plot the differences and similarities of the characters with those of your students. Initiate an interactive discussion, and talk with your students about where the kids live, what the kids eat, or how they get to school.