The Case for Literature-Based Reading Programmes at the Elementary School Level

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The importance of children's literature in reading programmes for elementary-aged children remains the subject of debate. On the one hand, many teachers and scholars believe that children's literature is an extraordinarily valuable part of the elementary-school curriculum.


The publication of children's literature has increased substantially and its incorporation into reading programmes has also increased significantly (Harris, 1992). At the same time, there has been a simultaneous interest in literature-based reading instruction.
Nonetheless, the importance and the usefulness of children's literature have been questioned. The nature of these attacks, however, seem to have less to do with the value of the instructional approaches and substantive materials than a preoccupation with preparing students for standardized tests and a stubborn adherence to traditional methods. Of particular concern is the use of children's literature as a means for teaching children how to decode information in order to perform better on standardized tests. This instructional method, without more, neglects the very purposes of literature-based reading instruction and renders the inclusion of children's literature in elementary reading programmes an almost tangential inclusion. The strict emphasis on decoding and on standardized testing, while of some relevance to literacy, is harming the very goals and usefulness of literature-based reading instruction.
This essay will argue that the inclusion of children's literature is of fundamental importance to effective reading programmes at the elementary school level. ...
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