“Butterfly in the skyyyyy. I can go twice as highhh” (★)
Today, we’re gonna talk about literature. Children’s Literature, to be exact. What is it? Why does it matter? Let’s dive deeper into the importance of cultivating a love for reading at an early age and what some of the key stages are in a child’s journey through this literary development.
I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I am very passionate about it. This post will go over a handful of concepts and ideas I have found to be most interesting thus far in my adventures to learn more about child lit.
I’d also like to note that I firmly believe that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks. While the content below is targeted toward the literary growth of children, that doesn’t mean that it’s too late for you, Mr. or Ms. Grown Human, to learn a thing or two about the joy of sitting down with a good book. With that said, please fasten your seat belts and put your tray table in the upright and locked position, because it’s time for take off and it’s gonna be a wild ride !!!!
Know the Child, Know the Book
Book selection is a huge part of the encouragement of literacy among young readers as is listening and noting the interests of the reader. The saying, “know the child, know the book”, focuses in on the need to pay attention to the details of both child and book. Nothing’s worse than getting stuck with a crummy book that you’re just not interested in, right? Right! To encourage happy, passionate, and curious readers we need to hone in on the interests of the young reader and make sure that the book selections that are offered/suggested/given to them contain content that aligns with their interests. Hearing a child say “I want to read the next one!” or “Can we read more like this story?” is magical. And the best way to create this magic is by knowing the child and knowing the book.
Teaching Kids to Read vs Teaching Kids to LOVE to Read
Here’s the thing: kids who know how to read are great, but kids who love to read are extraordinary. Piggy-backing off the idea that magic is created when putting the right book into the hands of the right child, teaching a kid to love reading is powerful and can be done by focusing in on a few key things.
- The Power of Choice: Children are way more inclined to read when their thoughts and interests are taken into account and when they get to be the one who holds the reins. The power of choice is strong and can inspire kids to pave their own path towards literary success.
- Creativity: Reading doesn’t have to stop at the end of the page or the chapter or even the book. Kids can have fun with their journey through literature in more ways than one. Showing and sharing what they’ve learned from their reading can be expressed in a variety of fun and creative ways!
- Availability: The chance to read should be abundant, as should books and various other reading material. By making these moments and resources readily available to children, they are sure to have the tools they need to grow and learn in a literary world.
- Encouragement and Support: Providing warm and welcoming environments for reading time is a great way to foster supportive reading habits. Tell stories on the go! Read aloud! Take time out of the day for a 15-minute reading break! All of these things and more will help to build positive attitudes around the idea of learning through literature.
“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”
Mirrors and Windows
What are they?
- Mirrors are stories that reflect your culture/reality and help you understand yourself.
- Windows are books, movies, art, etc. that offer you a view into someone else’s experience.
Everyone, big or small, needs both mirrors and windows in their life. And guess what? BOOKS CAN BE MIRRORS AND BOOKS CAN BE WINDOWS! How wonderful is that?! When you just have mirrors in your life, your world view lacks the wide angle lens that can capture all sorts of perspectives. When you have just windows in your life, you can feel left out or like you don’t see yourself belonging in the world you observe. But when combining the two together, a rich, diverse, global world reveals that there are multiple ways of being. By sharing books with kids that include mirrors and windows, we are able to both reassure these young readers that they are wonderful the way they are and that sometimes, not everyone is exactly like them.
Books are powerful and can teach us a lot about ourselves, about others, and about the world. Promoting good reading habits at a young age equips children with amazing tools that they can use for the rest of their lives. You can go anywhere. You can be anything. Take a look, because I can assure you… it’s definitely in a book.