Tag Archives: children’s literature

ETL402 – Forum Post 1: Why Read?


There is an abundance of evidence that supports the benefits for children to read. The value of children’s literature goes far beyond pleasure and enjoyment, although these are extremely important factors as to why children should read. The enjoyment derived from reading stories promotes a “love of reading” in children. Doing something they enjoy is always a motivator for children to pursue such activities. It is important to allow and encourage children to read the fiction they want to read, as this promotes a “love of reading” (Gaiman, 2013, para. 10).

The value of children reading narratives / stories includes (not a definitive list):

Improves comprehension

Reading and listening to stories helps to improve comprehension in children from a young age. It improves comprehension with all texts. Reading stories helps children of all ages understand and retain complex concepts and information. Introducing new concepts and information to children in a story structure is easier for them to comprehend and recall. Regularly reading or listening to stories being read will improve the comprehension of a child in both areas (Haven, 2007, pp. 97-98).

Creating meaning

Children reading stories and having stories read to them helps make sense and meaning of the world they live in. This includes the society they are part of, self-identity and relationships. Reading stories is easier for children to understand and retain complex concepts, societal and cultural values, attitudes, beliefs and information (Haven, 2007, pp. 105-106). The meaning that is created for children through reading stories can promote a sense of belonging and community. Shared stories create shared experiences and shared understandings which can be discussed amongst children and teachers, creating a sense of belonging (Haven, 2007, p. 113).

Improved literacy and language skills

From extensive research it is well established that reading improves literacy and language skills. The research highlights the importance of reading stories to children from a young age as this facilitates improved language skills and gives them a developed sense of story structure. This in turn will facilitate improved literacy skills (Haven, 2007, p. 114).


Gaiman, N. (2013, October 16). Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

Haven, K. (2007). Story proof: The science behind the startling power of story. Retrieved from EBook Library.


ETL402 – Notes on the key elements for a definition of children’s literature

  • Reading material usually written by adults for children and that which is widely read by children
  • Designed for an audience of children
  • Literary material targeted with children’s developmental level in mind – reading, maturity and cognitive levels
  • Influenced by society and culture – current concerns of society – therefore changes with the times
  • Influenced by how childhood is viewed by the society and culture – therefore will change with times and attitudes
  • Influenced and molded by many stakeholders – authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, educators, critics, parents and children
  • Imaginative works
  • Early years to adolescents
  • Amuse, enlighten or entertain children
  • Empowering tool
  • Vehicle for learning, enjoyment and self-discovery, self-identity

ETL402 – My ideas on the future of children’s literature


Do you have a vision for the future of children’s literature? Who will be the drivers of change?

As I worked through the readings in Module 1.2 about the history of children’s literature and the history of ideas of what childhood has meant in society, I have clearer ideas about my vision for the future of children’s literature and who will be the drivers of change.

My vision for the future of children’s literature encompasses narratives that help children to understand the world and the society they live in, it offers different perspectives, it helps them discover self-identity, it challenges them, it produces more questions, it ignites their imagination and fundamentally gives them enjoyment. My vision for children’s literature is that it embraces and utilises both traditional print books and books in the digital environment, a partnership that enhances, offers choice and supports each other to offer a rich reading experience for children.

In today’s world children are surrounded by digital technology and they seem to embrace it with much enthusiasm. The digital environment offers children much more power about what they want to read and explore (McLean, 2013, p. 25). Due to this fact, I believe that children will be the drivers for change in the future of children’s literature. In saying that I do believe as educators and parents we will always have an important role in helping, guiding and posing questions for children’s reading journeys.


McLean, K. (2013). The future of children’s books in five trends [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/BKGKristen/toc-bologna-2013-keynote

EER500 Assignment 1a – Draft Research Question


Research Topic or Problem

Children’s fiction has a vital influence in helping children understand and make sense of the world they live in, including the development of their understanding of gender and their own gender identity. Research has shown that there is a persistent gender stereotyping and an unequal representation of male over female protagonists in children’s fiction. These gender issues in children’s fiction reinforce a dominant message that males have a more interesting and important role in society than females. Children’s fiction and gender is one of the topics mentioned on a news item for the Gender Institute at The Australian National University, Canberra (2014). This news article sparked interest in this topic.

 Draft Research Question

 Does gender stereotyping in children’s fiction have a negative affect on how girls see their importance and value in society?

 From Literature to Research Question

The research articles used for this task both suggest that the implications of persistent underrepresentation of females and gender stereotyping in children’s fiction is a concerning issue. The articles suggest these gender issues influence how children develop gender identities. The dominant message being that boys and men have a more interesting and important role in society than do girls and women (Leland, Harste, & Clouse, 2013; McCabe, Fairchild, Grauerholz, Pescosolido, & Tope, 2011).

The first article focuses on the persistent underrepresentation of female protagonists in children’s picture books and book titles (McCabe et al., 2011). In this study over 5000 children’s picture books published in the twentieth century were analysed. It is suggested that the disparities in children’s fiction may contribute to children’s ideas (in particular girls) about gender identity (McCabe et al., 2011, p. 221). The authors use the term “symbolic annihilation” (Tuchman, as cited in McCabe et al., 2011, p. 198) to describe the underrepresentation of girls and women in children’s fiction.

The second article focuses on stereotyping in children’s picture books. A group of children analyse picture books published from 1995 onwards and identify gender stereotyping and how male and female characters are represented. This study goes further by arguing that “stereotypical portrayals hurt both girls and boys by positioning them as certain kinds of people they might not wish to be” (Leland et al., 2013, p. 6). The research question narrows the focus to the negative affect gender stereotyping has on girls.

Practical Importance

The research question could be important in raising awareness among educators about the persistent gender stereotyping in children’s fiction and the social implications for ignoring the negative affect this may have on children, with a focus on girls.  This awareness could be transferred in to practical use by influencing educators to start regular conversations with children about gender stereotyping in children’s fiction. Educators could teach children to acknowledge, question and challenge gender stereotyping in children’s books (Leland et al., 2013, p. 8).


Leland, C. H., Harste, J., & Clouse, L. (2013). Talking Back to Stereotypes. Journal of Reading Education, 38(2), 5-9. Retrieved from http://oter.coedu.usf.edu/index.html

McCabe, J., Fairchild, E., Grauerholz, L., Pescosolido, B. A., & Tope, D. (2011). Gender in twentieth-century children’s books: Patterns of disparity in titles and central characters. Gender & Society, 25(2), 197-226. doi:10.1177/0891243211398358

The Australian National University, Canberra. (2014). Fun with Dick and Jane: Gender and childhood [News item]. Retrieved March 4, 2014, from http://genderinstitute.anu.edu.au/news/fun-dick-and-jane-gender-and-childhood