This semester, students in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
By Norma Perez
Yes, it is possible even though many young children that are ready to attend school are not aware that their learning environment will be an inspiring and rewarding one. As an early childhood teacher, I have encountered many young children who have not been exposed to literacy through the use of literature.
It is sad to say that many of our young children today have little or no exposure to literature due to different reasons. In some instances, they haven’t been exposed to literature of any kind. I have had some young children come to school without ever being read to; because they either live with parents or guardians who can’t read to them, or simply because of a low social economic status environment. Some parents do not have the resources to expose their children to literature.
There are ways to expose young children to literature. As a teacher, I believe that young children can experience literacy through children’s literature as a ‘read-aloud’. At a very early age, young children have a playful imagination. They are intrigued by stories that are entertaining whether it be make-believe or real. Most often young children make personal connections about the character or the plot in the story.
Literature is the avenue for young children to be able to discover other places without ever leaving the proximity of their comfort zone; it also allows young children to learn about other cultures. As we all know, it is important to expose our young generation to other ethical backgrounds. Otherwise, our society will continue to stereotype people without even considering their ethics and morals. For instance, this year I have a child in my classroom who is Asian. It is obvious that her classmates noticed that she looked and spoke different. So at the beginning of the school year, I read a children’s literature book titled Yoko by Rosemary Wells. The story is about a character who takes lunch to school and her friends immediately noticed that the meal is not familiar…sushi.
Of course, my students were curious about what sushi was except for my Asian student; she immediately made a personal connection and described to her classmates what sushi was and what it tasted like. She also talked about how her mother prepared the tasty entrée, which was her most favorite dish.
Literature enhances one’s culture when it is about their own values and morals. I truly believe that exposing young children to their own culture through literature will help them relate to the customs and traditions that occurs within their families. When I was growing up, I knew my heritage and background but I seldomly made personal connections to the literature that was read to my classmates and me. As a young child, I remember being exposed to stories about Dick and Jane by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp; do not me get wrong, I really enjoyed these stories, they are my old time favorites. Not knowingly as child, I would draw my characters with blonde hair instead black or brown, and with fair skin color instead of brown. As for me, that was normal, I never gave it much thought; but in all honesty, I was a young child who did not relate my pictures to my own identity; so what is the big deal?
Well, the big deal is that young children should be exposed to a variety of literature; especially about their culture. It is about literature that not only takes them to places that they have never been to; but also, it is literature that will allow them to a make a connection from a personal experience as well.
LITERATURE IN KINDERGARTEN….THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!