Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot in Treasure Island.” While the benefits of children being readers are undeniable, educators know that one of their most important tasks with their students is to help them unearth the treasure that is found in children’s literature.
Books with children as main characters, books written for kids, books with lots of pictures could all be considered children’s literature, but the definition of this treasure is much more complex.
When experiencing children’s literature, kids see themselves or parts of themselves in the characters that they read about. Children can see that they share similarities, challenges, and joys with others and they know they aren’t alone.
Kids are shown people, places, and times they otherwise can’t see when they explore the magic in children’s literature. They can learn about history, contemplate the future, and learn about people different from themselves. The world is literally opened to them as they read information and examine photographs, maps, and diagrams.
Children’s literature prepares children for challenges they will face. Characters can face challenges and readers can face those challenges along with them, in safety, and prepare for when they face similar challenges themselves.
As educators become more knowledgeable about this treasure chest called children’s literature, they become more proficient in connecting their students with just the right book – a book that can help them see themselves, to learning about people and places, and to prepare them for life’s challenges. This is the true treasure of children’s books.
The Children’s Literature, K-12 graduate-level course at Concordia University Wisconsin provides educators with the opportunity to explore the genres and characteristics of children’s literature. Through this exploration teachers are hands-on with books and they learn how to critique the literature to find the very best treasures to put into the hands of students. Integration of literature into classroom practice is also an emphasis of the course.
Article written by:
Literacy Adjunct Faculty – Reading Specialist
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