Benefits of Literature
Literature is an important component of a total language arts program at all grade levels because of the many benefits it offers. Here are some reasons for integrating literature into your curriculum.
Literature provides pleasure to listeners and readers. It is a relaxing escape from daily problems, and it fills leisure moments. Making time for recreational reading and using high-quality literature help to develop enthusiastic readers and improve achievement (Block & Mangieri, 2002). According to Rosenblatt (1995, p. 175), "The power of literature to offer entertainment and recreation is . . . still its prime reason for survival." Developing a love of literature as a recreational activity is possibly the most important outcome of a literature program.
Literature builds experience. Children expand their horizons through vicarious experiences. They visit new places, gain new experiences, and meet new people. They learn about the past as well as the present and learn about a variety of cultures, including their own. They discover the common goals and similar emotions found in people of all times and places. Two examples of books that provide such experiences are Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Reilly Giff, a harsh survival story set in Ireland during the potato famine of 1845, and Patricia Polacco's The Butterfly, dealing with Nazis, resistance, and Jewish persecution during World War II.
Literature provides a language model for those who hear and read it. Good literature exposes children to correct sentence patterns, standard story structures, and varied word usage. Children for whom English is a second language can improve their English with the interesting context, and all children benefit from new vocabulary that is woven into the stories.
Literature develops thinking skills. Discussions of literature bring out reasoning related to sequence; cause and effect; character motivation; predictions; visualization of actions, characters, and settings; critical analysis of the story; and creative responses.
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