Spann 1Brooke SpannAP LitTillery18 November, 2011 Children‟s Books and Reading to Children As adolescents grow and mature into young adults, they give credit for their learnedknowledge to their teachers, parents, coaches, and other important resources in their lives, butthey often forget to mention what jumpstarted their pursuit of intelligence: childhood reading. Itinstills in them scholarship and sagacity and keeps them entertained. Childhood reading leads toa sophisticated life. Essentially, children open their minds to worldly understandings when they begin readingstorybooks in their youth, and children‟s literature is viewed as the best way to improve thedevelopment of child outcomes in schools. The U.S. Department of Education, for instance,mentions in its 2010 literature review focusing on the identification of features of effectiveprofessional development for early childhood educators that it “turns first to efforts to strengthenprofessional development in early language and literacy, then in early mathematics, and finallyin children‟s social development” (Zaslow, Tout, Halle, Whittaker, and Lavelle 25). The U.S.Department of Education recognizes the importance of early childhood literacy above all otherareas of educational improvement. Due to the magnitude of that importance, the U.S.Department of Education yields no hesitation to make sure that literature is ubiquitous in schoolsnationwide. Plus, most children‟s books are designed specifically to communicate a moral lesson
Spann 2that is intended to be received by the reader. Explicitly, the story of Cinderella conveys themessage that one should always keep dreaming and should not let anyone stomp on thosedreams. Children who read this become more confident in what they aspire to do because theybelieve that if Cinderella‟s dream came true, so will their dreams. With this reasoning in mind,young readers of Cinderella understand one of life‟s valuable lessons to be learned. Thisinteraction is also demonstrated in the Harry Potter series; though his childhood is actually aharsh memory, Harry Potter is more wise, faithful, and fearless than any other kid his age by thetime he finds out that he is a wizard. Margo Hammond says on the theme of Harry Potter, “Kidsare taught lessons of loyalty and courage” (Children‟s Books Get Real). Fans of Harry Potteradmire his actions and charisma; hence, they study and take on these qualities. In contrast, lifecan be difficult for children who are never offered the opportunity to be educated. “Beingilliterate, I was lost in this modern world full of literates while I found everything difficult. Lifehas been miserable,” says twenty-five-year-old preschool student Siago Sui about his life beforehe finally enrolled in preschool (Bolanoho, “Children Build on Reading”). People cannotfunction correctly in their adult life if they were never exposed to education. This is why beingread to as a child is important to every individual. Also, the more often a child reads, the more scholarly it becomes, and living in a book-surrounded environment is always beneficial. To illustrate this concept, an anonymous author ofthe National Education Association claims that, “Students who do more reading at home arebetter readers and have higher math scores…and higher reading scores,” and that, “the moretypes of reading materials there are in a home, the higher students are in reading proficiency,according to the Educational Testing Service.3” (Facts about Children‟s Literacy). Practicemakes perfect, and the only way children can become better readers and more knowledgeable is
Spann 3to keeping reading and absorbing the true meaning of the material; consequently, they will findthat they understand more about the world. For this reason, a large variety of books shouldalways be available for kids to read, whether it be in the home, in a public library, or at school.Additionally, children‟s books are intentionally made to augment the intellect of children. In fact,a couple of online critics inform us that, “During the preschool years, books contribute tochildren‟s language structures and to their vocabulary. Children acquire a sense of languagepattern and rhythm from the literary usage of language that is not found in everydayconversational speech” (Shelton and Kieffer, “Children‟s Literature”). Those kids that startreading early will enter kindergarten with knowledge of certain higher-level words and willtypically breeze through the alphabet when they come around to learning it. On the other hand,those kids who enter into kindergarten illiterate will struggle a bit more simply because it is newmaterial to them. Without a doubt, children who read more are almost guaranteed a more naturalperception of the materials and the world around them. Along with knowledge-based attributes, children‟s books also serve to keep kidsentertained and in high spirits. The key to a content, healthy childhood is a good relationshipbetween child and mentor, and routinely reading aloud to children is a great way for parents,teachers, and other influential people in the lives of children to strengthen the bond between thechildren and themselves. For instance, before soldier Ken Bielwicz was sent to Afghanistan for ayear, he recorded himself reading storybooks to his soon-to-be-born daughter that he would notsee until months after her birth, and she watched them with a longing to squeeze him through thecomputer screen with all her might (NPR Staff, “Bedtime Stories, From a Dad in Afghanistan).Those storybooks were the only connection that they would have with each other until his longawaited arrival back home, but it was more precious and sentimental to them than anything else
Spann 4in the world. In this case, the use of children‟s literature literally bonded the powerfulrelationship between father and daughter. These good relationships not only bind two peopletogether, but they also give the kids the feeling of being loved. According to Serafini and Giorgi,children cling to “the feelings of comfort” and “the sense of losing ourselves in a good story,”which creates a “sense of belonging” that allows children to “connect those wonderful stories tothose caring individuals with whom we experienced the literature” (Reading Aloud and Beyondxi). The feeling of being loved must be present in every child‟s life to keep its esteem high, andwith a little bit of reading aloud every day, the child will stay merry. Though there are other forms of entertainment for kids, reading seems to be one of themost popular means through which children escape the chaos that might be happening in theirlives. As an anonymous author points out, some “computer-literate” children of “elementary”level read J.K. Rowling‟s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in just a couple of days as amethod of “escapism” (“The Reading Habit Forms In Childhood”). Children love to read; it is assimple as that. Fortunately, reading also keeps kids away from the omnipresent, distractingdevices that waste away the kids‟ time. Furthermore, kids are typically more entertained byreading gender-specific books that fall into their gender category. For example, after collectingand analyzing a slew of information, a surveyor concludes that, “In contrast to the passivity offemale characters in children‟s novels, the male characters are aggressive, physically strong, fullof a sense of adventure, and able to function in complete independence” (qtd. in “Race, Gender,and Disability in Today‟s Children‟s Literature”). Young boys are more interested in readingabout strong, adventurous heroes with superpowers, while young girls typically prefer to readabout princesses who wait to be saved by their Prince Charming. Indeed, the books that typicallyappeal to both audiences are the ones that are not gender-biased, like The Tortoise and the Hare.
Spann 5Additionally, successful entertainment depends on age-appropriate themes. Obviously, youngchildren who are still in the visual-learning stage and are just beginning to read are moreinterested picture books. Actually, an expert on children‟s book illustration and design statesabout creative children‟s book illustrations that, „This specialized artistic field is inviting,rewarding, and some might say, on the “cutting edge”‟ (qtd. in Reading Aloud and Beyond 21).Children in the beginner‟s stage tend to read by observing and studying the pictures. Theillustrations entice them to learn to read. On the contrary, children who have been reading for acouple of years and often read in school can relate more to topics about their own lives.According to Jan Susina, twentieth-century children‟s books “appealed to and explored the livesof older children” (“Children‟s Literature”). These would include series like the Judy B. Jonesbooks that express the aspects of a school environment. Older children who are in elementaryand middle school can relate to Judy‟s school-related issues, so they become more interested inthe stories and more attached to the characters in the stories. Plus, children have wildimaginations and like to explore; therefore, children‟s literature is more easily relatable forchildren when it conveys moral and fantasy rather than when it has a didactic style. Withrelatable literature, children will never become bored and will find reading to be a luxury. In final consideration, childhood reading is indeed the cause for people‟s initial andprolonging erudition and entertainment rather than the authoritative figures in the children‟slives. It gives children their youthful inclination in literacy and their understanding of the worldthey live in. Without a doubt, childhood reading opens the door to a highly knowing perspectiveof life.
Spann 6 Works CitedBOLA NOHO. “Children Build on Reading.” Global Issues in Context. N.p., 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. <http://find.galegroup.com/gic/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC- Documents&sort=DateDescend&tabID=T004&searchId=R1&docId=A271911257&prod Id=GIC¤tPosition=3&userGroupName=cant48040&resultListType=RESULT_LI ST&sgHitCountType=None&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28 KE%2CNone%2C16%29children%27s+books%24&inPS=true&searchType=&docId=A 271911257&docType=IAC>.“Facts About Children‟s Literacy.” National Education Association. N.p., 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nea.org/grants/13662.htm>.Global & Mail. “The Reading Habit Forms in Childhood.” Global Issues in Context. N.p., 2008. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://find.galegroup.com/gic/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC- Documents&sort=Relevance&tabID=T006&searchId=R4&docId=A184320751&prodId=GIC&c urrentPosition=1&userGroupName=cant48040&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&sgHitCountTy pe=None&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28KE%2CNone%2C16%29ch ildren%27s+books%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28LU%2CNone%2C35%29%22Children%27s+Bo oks%7Cchildren%27s+Books%22%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28LU%2CNone%2C40%29%22Ch ildren%27s+Books%7Cchildren%27s+Literature%22%24&inPS=true&searchType=&docId=A1 84320751&docType=IAC>.Hammond, Margo. “Children‟s Books Get Real.” Global Issues in Context. N.p., 2000. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. <http://find.galegroup.com/gic/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC- Documents&sort=Relevance&tabID=T006&searchId=R1&docId=CJ63274616&prodId=GIC&c urrentPosition=3&userGroupName=cant48040&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&sgHitCountTy
Spann 7 pe=None&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28KE%2CNone%2C16%29ch ildren%27s+books%24&inPS=true&searchType=&docId=CJ63274616&docType=IAC>.“International Children‟s Book Day.” Manila Bulltetin [Manila] 1 Apr. 2011: n. pag. Global Issues in Context. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. <http://find.galegroup.com/gic/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC- Documents&sort=Relevance&tabID=T006&searchId=R2&docId=CJ252968898&prodId=GIC& currentPosition=3&userGroupName=cant48040&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&sgHitCountT ype=None&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28KE%2CNone%2C16%29c hildren%27s+books%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28LU%2CNone%2C35%29%22Children%27s+B ooks%7Cchildren%27s+Books%22%24&inPS=true&searchType=&docId=CJ252968898&docT ype=IAC>.Mackey, Margaret. “Children‟s Reading.” Gale Virtual Reference Library. Cengage Learning, 2004. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/ retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGrou pName=cant48040&tabID=T003&searchId=R2&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegm ent=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm¤tPosition=1&contentSet=GALE%7CCX34348 00057&&docId=GALE|CX3434800057&docType=GALE&role=>.NPR Staff. “Bedtime Stories, From A Dad In Afghanistan.” npr. PBS, 19 June 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <http://www.npr.org/2011/06/19/137281175/bedtime-stories-from-a-dad-in-afghanistan>.Pirofski, Kira Isak. “Race, Gender, and Disability in Today‟s Children‟s Literature.” Critical Multicultural Pavilion Research Room. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/literature2.html>.Root, Shelton L., Jr., and Barbara Z. Kieffer. “Children‟s Literature.” Gale Virtual Reference Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/
Spann 8 retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGrou pName=cant48040&tabID=T003&searchId=R2&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegm ent=&searchType=BasicSearchForm¤tPosition=18&contentSet=GALE%7CCX34032001 08&&docId=GALE|CX3403200108&docType=GALE&role=>.Serafini, Frank, and Cyndi Giorgis, eds. Reading Aloud and Beyond: Fostering the Intellectual Life with Older Readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003. Print.Susina, Jan. “Children‟s Literature.” Gale Virtual Reference Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/ retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGrou pName=cant48040&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegm ent=&searchType=BasicSearchForm¤tPosition=19&contentSet=GALE%7CCX34028001 03&&docId=GALE|CX3402800103&docType=GALE&role=>.United States. U.S. Department of Education. “IV: Professional Development TargetingImprovement in Specific Developmental Domains for Children.” Toward the Identification ofFeatures of Effective Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators LiteratureReview. By Martha Zaslow, et al. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends, 2010. 25. U.S. Department ofEducation. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/professional-development/literature-review.pdf>.