The very word ‘Literature’ brings to mind dusty, difficult books stacked in a rarely frequented corner of the library, or long hours spent dissecting Hemingway, Conrad, or the sonnets and plays of Shakespeare.
But Literature does not have to be boring, or stuffy, or ‘only for the bright kids’. It is for everyone.
Literature opens up new worlds to children. It teaches them about people and places, both real and imaginary. It teaches them to empathise, feel and explore emotions. It teaches them values and what it is to be human.
Literature can be used to illustrate the many forms writing can take—personal narrative, exposition, poetry, fantasy, and so on. Hence, it is greatly encouraged for a child to read widely to gain that exposure.
Literature provides children with a variety of narrative structures that can help them become better writers. Children can borrow from these models as they shape their own pieces, adapting story structures to their own needs and imitating patterns other writers have created. Through such modelling and adaptation, children will start picking up writing styles, vocabulary and plot ideas, and begin developing their own writing styles.
Building a child’s interest in Literature can be done in a myriad of interesting ways: through reading aloud, dramatisation, choral reading, games, journal response, the TV/movie connection, and art & craft activities. The possibilities are endless.