Understanding theStages of Literary Appreciation Nilsen,A.&Donelson,K.(2009). Literaturefortoday’syoungadult.(8thed.).Boston: PearsonEducationInc.pp.10-16 English 326 Prof. Shirley Santiago de Jiménez Revised 2009
It is the ability to:gain pleasure and understanding forliteratureunderstand the value and importanceof literatureesteem, honor, respect, and/oradmire the beauty and complexity ofliterature
What is Literature?Literature (Big L)Classics that have beenread over and over again orhave been acclaimedthroughout the years(literary awards)Works that are consideredexemplary because theyprovide knowledge andunderstanding of the worldand man.
What is literature?literature (little l)Broadly, anythingthat is written (suchasnovels, poems, plays, and articles)Written workswith popular appeal
What are the stages of literary appreciation? They are an approximation ofthe different levels of “ howindividuals develop the personalattitudes and reading, watching , andlistening skills that are a necessarypart of literary appreciation.”
Each developmental stage or level (Nilsen and Donelson, 2009) is characterized by :•An optimal age (or grade level)•Sample literary materials•Sample actions or activities
Level 1: Understanding that Pleasureand Profit Come from Literature ( Ages 0-5: Pre-School)Literature can refer to oralmanifestations (songs and nurseryrhymes) as well as graphic or visualdepictions (picture books, televisionprograms, and appealing signs)
The literary experience is a social oneAdults sharing; going to bookstoresand libraries; talking about T.V.programs and moviesChildren have opportunities for“talking stories" and “grandconversations”
Level 2: Learning to Read (Decode) (Ages 6-8: Grades 1-3)Children are developing literacy (“…aprocess that is never-ending for anyonewho is intellectually active.”)One must not lose sight of those childrenwho are struggling with literacy andsubsequently lose sight of the search forpleasure and enjoyment
Those children who learn to read easilyareundemanding and in a stage of “unconsciousenjoyment” –becoming addicted to one particularbook or character (allowing for the development ofspeed and skill)
Level 3: Losing Oneself in a Story (Ages 9-11: Grades 4-6 )Time outside of school for reading, lesstelevision time, and uninterruptedconversation is essential. (Distractions donot help to develop appreciation forreading!)Children read while engaged in otheractivities.
Reading can become a means of“escaping.”This developmental stage may notoccur until much later than the 4th or 5thgrades, or it may not happen at all.
Level 4: Finding Oneself in a Story(Ages 12-14: Junior High) AdolescenceAt this stage, the more experience youngpeople have with literature (books ormovies), the more discriminatingtheybecome.To receive pleasure, they have to respectthe story; it has to be real!
They want to know not what happened , butwhy; stereotypes are no longer satisfying;characters have to be believable.They are reading to find out aboutthemselves, not simply to escape into someoneelse’s experiences.
They are looking for lives as much like theirown as possible.In addition, they are curious about other sidesof life ( e.g. the bizarre, the unbelievable, thegrotesque)Their purpose is largely that of findingthemselves and where they fit in society.The Bottom Line:Reading is a means of discovering identity.
Level 5: Venturing Beyond Self(Ages 15-18: High School)The person goes beyond his/heregocentrism and looks at the largercircle of society (“going beyond me”).Issues such as conformity, socialpressures, justice, and humanweaknesses and strengths
Teenagers are responsible for assessingthe world around them and where they fitin.This stage is more aboutemotional, intellectual and physicaldevelopment instead of advanced readingskills.
Reading at this level allows for focusingon the person’s psychological needs inrelation to society. (Science fiction andfantasy help to create new ideas about theexisting society.)
Levels 6 and 7: Reading WidelyandAesthetic Appreciation (Ages 18 -Death)At the college level, the young adultreads best-sellers and is involved inacclaimed literary works such asnovels, plays, and films, sharing theseexperiences with peers.
Throughout adulthood, the avid readerwho has developed the skills and attitudesnecessary to enjoy literary experiences atall the previous levels, is ready to embarkon a lifetime of aesthetic appreciation(understanding the beauty and artisticvalue).
What is the importance of understanding thedifferent stages of literary appreciation?In order to appreciate literature, people atany stage must experience pleasure and profitfrom their reading, viewing, and listening.As (future) teachers and parents, we mustmeet young people where they are and helpthem feel comfortable before trying to movethem on.
The Goal: A society of adults who areintellectually stimulated to readfor personal fulfillment andpleasure and understand that it isbeneficial!
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