A learner-centered curriculum based on award-winning literature.
Lack of children and adolescent literature knowledge is problematic in many schools. Richards (1994) stated that many teacher preparation programs did not provide instruction on using literature in the curriculum and, almost overnight, teachers have been asked to become literature experts, knowing the perfect book for every situation, every reader and every curriculum area. And, not just the perfect book, but also an extensive repertoire of perfect books. Teachers must continue to develop professionally if they want to maximize their students' learning. It is almost impossible to know all of the literature that has been published, but knowing about many different genres will assist teachers.
Using literature in the classroom has many advantages. Research indicates that children use the language they hear and read. Therefore, teachers should be aware of various types of literature in the classroom. Selecting books for the classroom and guiding children in their reading require an understanding of the literacy elements of children's literature. Karrer (1985) lists the criteria used in Teachers' Choices For Choosing Quality Literature:
1. Books with literary quality that can be used effectively.
2. Books with aesthetic or literary qualities which might be neglected by their readers without help from a knowledgeable and sympathetic guide.
3. Books that elicit thoughtful responses from children.
4. Books that contain elements that children could grasp with guidance.
5. Books that provide pleasure and lead to discoveries about literature.
Additionally, Routman (1988) states that literature allows meaning to dominate in the classrooms, and promotes language development and fluency in reading. However, it is not enough for teachers to understand the literacy elements; they also must appreciate and demonstrate excitement about the literature they use. Invariably the purpose of teaching literature includes both increasing students' appreciation of it and developing other attitudes. Greater appreciation of literature increases pleasure in reading, which causes students to turn to books instead of away from them (Norton, 1983).
Teachers are not always prepared to work with literature based language arts curriculums (Beach, 1993). Teachers who are not familiar with their teaching materials will not use them correctly. The International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English have recommended that literature courses be required in all teacher education programs (1993). Not only must a philosophy be developed by the individual teacher, but a practical action plan must be developed to integrate literature into the elementary language arts curriculum.
Elementary teachers need to know a wide variety of authors and illustrators and their works, and need to know how to prepare relevant activities based on this literature. Teachers who have knowledge of a wide variety of books will be able to impart success to their students. Ouzts (1994) stated that, as educators, we must sensitize children to themselves and to others through books. Books may offer possible solutions to problems or even present the solution that could lessen a person's inner turmoil and thus break many attitudinal barriers to learning. The best chance of breaking attitudinal barriers is through the use of literature. The Caldecott Medal and Newbery Medal books are excellent books to begin searching for materials. These books have been judged as some of the best books in children's literature.
In today's schools many teachers are confronted with children who are depressed and often stressed. This situation would be easier to acknowledge if the teacher had knowledge of books considered as bibliotherapeutic literature. Ouzts (1984) defines bibliotherapy as therapy through books and says that it is an effective technique that can be used to help children cope with their problems and thus promote mental health. It is important that a teacher be able to select bibliotherapeutic books. Jalongo states that there are three criteria to be used in selecting books for bibliotherapy: potential for controversy, accuracy or credibility, and value to literature (1983).
One must realize that bibliotherapy is not the only reason that teachers should be familiar with literature. Reading should not only be required, but it should be fun. Unfortunately, many children have differing views on reading. Children who are considered as excellent readers believe that reading is a way of learning, a private pleasure, and a social activity (Lamme, 1987). Conversely, children in low reading groups think that reading is saying the words correctly, doing schoolwork, and a source of status (1987). The way that teachers can break through this barrier is to make reading fun. This almost impossible feat requires a large library of books. The teacher must build a classroom library where books are easily accessible. These books need to be of high literary quality and interesting to the students. Overall, the teacher must be knowledgeable about literature.
Teachers should not only be interested in literature that they enjoy, but also literature that children in their classes can enjoy. Multicultural children's literature is extremely important in the elementary school. Children must be able to coexist with various ethnic and cultural groups. This will benefit the children of the particular ethnic group because by reading stories about their own culture they are able to see life through other people who share their experiences. Multicultural literature should contain:
1. Positive portrayals of characters with authentic and realistic behaviors, to avoid stereotypes of a particular cultural group.
2. Authentic illustrations to enhance the quality of the text, since illustrations can have a strong impact on children.
3. Pluralistic themes to foster belief in cultural diversity as a national asset as well as to reflect the changing nature of this country's population.
4. Contemporary as well as historical fiction that captures changing trends in the roles played by minority groups in America.
5. High literary quality, including strong plots and well-developed characterization.
6. Historical accuracy when appropriate.
7. Reflections of the cultural values of the characters.
8. Settings in the United States that help readers build an accurate conception of country and the legacy of various minority groups (Beilke (1986), Harada (1995), Harris (1991), and Pang, Colvin, Tran and Barba (1992)).
These suggestions are very useful for teachers selecting multicultural literature and are appropriate for classroom use.
Selecting quality multicultural children's literature presents many problems, but one must understand that positive gains can be made in using this literature. Teachers who are knowledgeable about children's and adolescent literature can increase their students' performance in school. Benner (1992) stated that the failure of professionals to acknowledge and value diversity has historically contributed to the poor school performance of minority children. Additionally, Kruise (1990) stated that quality literature is essential to an effective language arts program.
One part of teaching literature is keeping the student's attention long enough to develop a genuine interest. The classrooms that are able to accomplish this have many commonalities. The teachers:
1. created opportunities for students to practice reading skills through self-selected reading during an allotted time
2. presented literature daily,
3. established attractive, accessible library centers, and
4. provided literature-related activities (Hickman, 1981).
The teachers were not immediately able to develop a learner-centered curriculum based on literature without initially developing their classroom's image and their literature knowledge base. There were specific behaviors that facilitated a student's quest for literary knowledge. The teachers:
1. displayed books attractively and provided ample time for children to read
2. presented literature daily,
3. discussed books with children, and
4. provided time to engage in book-related activities (1981).
These behaviors were indicative of successful classrooms.
Research indicates that children's literature is extremely important to a child's overall language development. Tieman (1987) discussed the lack of serious study of children's literature in elementary schools across the country and stated that the study of literature is given little, if any, serious attention. Many teachers who have taken numerous reading courses still have limited knowledge of children's literature. Ouzts conducted research in the area of children and young adult literature knowledge, and devised two surveys to test teacher knowledge of both the Caldecott and Newbery books. The surveys and the results of the surveys are listed.
Ouzts (1994) analyzed teacher knowledge of award-winning children's literature. From this research one can conclude that fewer than half of the sample population recognized the Caldecott Award Books, while less than one-third of the sample population recognized the Newbery Award Books. The data show that many teachers may not have current knowledge of many of the Caldecott and Newbery award-winning books.
In order for teachers to see the importance of literature, and to feel comfortable about it, more extensive training must occur. This training should revolve around five basic goals of a literature-based program. These goals are as follows:
1. To provide children with a range of literature experiences that builds on and extends their knowledge base, including an awareness of people and other living things, of events, and of ideas not present in their own life experience.
2. To bring children's prior knowledge, life experience, and values into sharper focus through active comprehension by examining and contrasting the many aspects of life represented through literature via language.
3. To provide children with pleasure through the joy of language; and to encourage the appreciation of life experience by isolating, magnifying, or contrasting, "slices of life" for aesthetic observation.
4. To develop children's self-understanding through insight into their own behavior as they encounter a broad range of human behavior.
5. To develop children's awareness of language as a powerful means of human expression as they experience the skillful use of imagery, drama, humor, and pathos (Ruddell, 1995).
Using children and young adult literature offers benefits to many children and adolescents. These students often become lifelong readers, and teachers often become enthusiastic about using literature in the classroom. This increased enjoyment provides opportunities to read and share books, develops a knowledge of genres, and provides instructional practices that make differences in what students learn as well what teachers actually teach.
What's Your Literature Quotient? Two surveys administered by Dan T. Ouzts, Ph.D. Survey 1--Caldecott Award Books Descriptor/Clue Title 1. A picture book of creatures in the Old Testament, the Psalms and the Gospels 2. After spending an eventful day at the fair held on New Year's Eve, a little Chinese girl arrives home just in time to greet the Kitchen God 3. A stove-top hat and the Emancipation Proclamation 4. I am proud of my mother and my father and their mothers and fathers and I am proud of the country that they helped to build 5. Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack 6. A house that could not be sold for gold or silver and eventually becomes a house in the city 7. The Princess Lenore wants the moon, and when she gets it, she will be well again 8. Bless other children, far and near and keep them safe and free from fear 9. A book of 26 American rhymes and jingles 10. A small piece of land in the ocean becomes personified/a part of the world of its own 11. White snow, bright snow, smooth and deep ... Light snow, night snow, quiet as sleep ... Down, down, without a sound; Down, down, to the frozen ground 12. Snow, snow, nothing but snow and the birds and the animals of the hill were very hungry 13. Saint Joseph's Day and the return of many birds 14. Dyeing eggs and placing the eggs on a tree 15. "Whose bone is it?" 16. Better a bear in the orchard than an orchard in the bear 17. A girl named Madeline falls into the Seine River and is rescued by a dog called Genevieve 18. Do not stay a moment after midnight. If you do, your coach will turn back into a pumpkin 19. A frog and a rat get married and go to France 20. Trees make everything beautiful 21. It is time of wonder-for wondering, for instance: where do hummingbirds go in a hurricane? 22. "Never again shall you with your flattery get me to sing with my eyes closed." 23. A star piniata for a little Mexican girl named Ceci for her posada 24. Old Russian woman and the Holy Child 25. Mouse>cat>dog>royal tiger>mouse 26. New snowfall and a little black boy named Peter 27. Max is sent to bed without his supper and his room becomes a magical place of wild things 28. A king and a queen invite a boy to their house and he brings many animals 29. Lacklie MacLacklan, his wife, and ten bairns and room galore 30. A girl named Samantha, or Sam, has a vivid imagination that constantly runs wild 31. Corporal Farrell brought the barrel, Private Parriage brought the carriage, but Drummer Hoff fired it off 32. A fool who seeks his fortune and marries the Czar's daughter by making a flying ship 33. A donkey who disappears 34. Ananse the Spiderman 35. A fox who lost his tail and had to perform tasks to regain his tail 36. A runaway dumpling 37. At your service, Duffy my dear, said the devil 38. A Pueblo Indian tale of a boy who became an arrow in search of his father 39. What the mosquito told the iguana 40. 26 African tribes from A to Z 41. Wordless book of the 40 day storm 42. A Native American girl who becomes a horse at death 43. An ox-cart filled with family-made goods 44. Fables with each having a moral 45. A jungle journey 46. African storytelling and images cast by shadows 47. Louis Bleriot and his flight across the English Channel 48. George and Red-Cross Knight and Una 49. The bell rings for those who believe 50. Island in the sky with beautiful birds becomes a temporary home for a janitor and his dog 51. Owling 52. Dancing in the attic 53. Chinese Red Riding Hood 54. Under Chaos/Holstein Cows 55. Flying frogs 56. The Great Bellini 57. Love of two lands-Japan and the United States Survey 2--Newbery Award Books Descriptor/Clue Title 1. Claudia runs away and lives at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art 2. An epic type book set in the land of Pyrdain 3. Poor black sharecroppers and a faithful coon dog 4. A mentally retarded younger brother named Charlie 5. Super rats 6. Her Eskimo name is Miyak 7. A 13 year old white boy is forced to join the crew of a slave ship and "dance" the slaves 8. Mayo Cornelius Higgins 9. Will Stanton tries to find the golden harp to awaken the ancient sleepers 10. Cassie Logan, a girl reared by a proud and independent black family 11. The secret land of Leslie and Jess 12. Sixteen heirs to the Sam Westing estate 13. A 14 year old New Hampshire girl keeps a journal for two years and during this time her father remarries and her best friend dies 14. Chesapeake life of Caroline and Louise 15. A book of poems about life at an imaginary inn run by William Blake 16. Dicey, James, Maybeth and Sammy Tillerman 17. Journal writing of Leigh Botts to his favorite author 18. Aerin, with the guidance of the wizard Luthe and with the help of the blue sword, wins the birthright due her as the daughter due her as the daughter of a Damarian King 19. A mail-order bride from Maine 20. Prince Brat and Jemmy 21. 16th president "in pictures" 22. Celebration of insect life and insect poetry 23. Danish Jews escape/Copenhagen 1943 24. Jeffrey Lionel was always running 25. A lost beagle, Marty Preston and Judd Travers 26. Aunt May, Uncle Ob, Summer and Cletus 27. Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas and Gabriel Results of Survey 1--Caldecott Award Books (126 Respondents) Titles Percent of Correct Responses in Descending Order 1. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears 85.7 2. Where the Wild Things Are 75.3 3. The Polar Express 73.8 4. Many Moons 73.3 5. Sylvester and the Magic Pebbles 73.0 6. A Snowy Day 71.0 7. Madeline's Rescue 71.0 8. Cinderella or the Little Glass Slipper 70.6 9. Jumanji 64.2 10. Make Way For Ducklings 64.2 11. Sam, Bangs and Moonshine 64.2 12. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses 64.2 13. Arrow to the Sun 64.2 14. Fables 61.9 15. Shadow 61.9 16. Tuesday 57.1 17. Owl Moon 57.1 18. Frog Went A-Courtin' 57.1 19. Hey, Al 57.1 20. Ashanti to Zulu 57.1 21. Abraham Lincoln 57.1 22. One Fine Day 57.1 23. Noah's Ark 57.1 24. May I Bring a Friend 57.1 25. Ox-Cart Man [less than or equal to] 48.4 26. Mei Li [less than or equal to] 48.4 27. White Snow, Bright Snow [less than or equal to] 48.4 28. The Little House [less than or equal to] 48.4 29. The Egg Tree [less than or equal to] 48.4 30. The Big Snow [less than or equal to] 48.4 31. Song of the Swallows [less than or equal to] 48.4 32. Nine Days to Christmas [less than or equal to] 48.4 33. Baboushka and the Three Kings [less than or equal to] 48.4 34. Once a Mouse [less than or equal to] 48.4 35. Always Room for One More [less than or equal to] 48.4 36. The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship [less than or equal to] 48.4 37. A Story, A Story [less than or equal to] 48.4 38. The Funny Little Woman [less than or equal to]48.4 39. Duffy and the Devil [less than or equal to] 48.4 40. Drummer Huff [less than or equal to] 48.4 41. The Glorious Flight [less than or equal to] 48.4 42. Saint George and the Dragon [less than or equal to] 48.4 43. Chanticleer and the Fox [less than or equal to] 48.4 44. Animals of the Bible [less than or equal to] 48.4 45. Song and Dance Man [less than or equal to] 48.4 46. Lon PoPo [less than or equal to] 48.4 47. Mirette on the High Wire [less than or equal to] 48.4 48. Black and White [less than or equal to] 48.4 49. Grandfather's Journey [less than or equal to] 48.4 50. They Were Strong and Good 0 51. Prayer for a Child 0 52. The Rooster Crows 0 53. The Little Island 0 54. Finders Keepers 0 55. The Biggest Bear 0 56. A Tree is Nice 0 57. Time of Wonder 0 Results of Survey 2--Newbery Award Books (72 respondents) Titles Percent of Correct Responses in Descending Order 1. Sarah, Plain and Tall 70.8 2. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH 62.5 3. Sounder 51.3 4. Bridge to Terabithia 51.3 5. Jacob Have I Loved 50.0 6. Summer of the Swans 33.3 7. M.C. Higgins, The Great 25.0 8. Dear Mr. Henshaw 20.8 9. Julie of the Wolves 20.8 10. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry 19.4 11. Number the Stars 19.4 12. A Gathering of Days 18.0 13. The Whipping Boy 16.6 14. The Westing Game 11.1 15. Maniac Magee 11.1 16. The Slave Dancer 11.1 17. Dicey's Song 9.7 18. Lincoln: A Photobiography 4.1 19. Joyful Noise 4.1 20. Shiloh 4.1 21. Missing May 2.7 22. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. 0 Basil E. Frankweiler 0 23. The High King 0 24. The Grey King 0 25. William Blake's Inn 0 26. The Hero and the Crown 0 27. The Giver 0
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DAN T. OUZTS
Associate Dean of Education
School of Education
MARK K. TAYLOR
Trident Technical College
LISA A. TAYLOR
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|Author:||Ouzts, Dan T.; Taylor, Mark K.; Taylor, Lisa A.|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2003|
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