Topic 15D – Times, authors and genres suitable for application in teaching English class. Types of texts.

Topic 15D – Times, authors and genres suitable for application in teaching English class. Types of texts.








This unit will deal with the most popular works in different periods and differents authors and genres of children literature, and with different types of story books or children. We will finish with a conclusion and the bibliography used.

Before the 18th c. Children could read books like Aesop’s Fables, romances, travel books, chapbooks, boardside ballads<, for example, Bunyan’s <pilgrim’s Progress (1678 ) , Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Swift’s Gullivesr’s Travels. They were books written for adults. It was not until the middle or the 18th century That books were specially written for chiuldren . ( Although in France it was a little better, children had books such as Perrault’s Fairy tales, so popular ( or The Arabian Nights ) translated to English in early 18th c. )

There was a demand for children’s books and John Newbery, a book seller of works illustrated by woodwoodcuts and engravings ), realized it and he published works such as A little Pretty Pocket-Book and the History of Little Goody two -shoes.

( There were some of whose books imitations ) but, it was in the letter half of the 18th c. When works in juvenile literature appeaared. Kwown works like The History os sandford and Merton by Thomas Day, Fabolous Histories by Sarah Trimment, Evenings at Home by John Aikin and Mrs Barbauld, The Parents’s Assistant, by Maria Edgeworth ( The novelist ) And in the 19thc. , Charles and Mary Lamb wrote Tales from Shakespeare.

The history of verse written for children is quite brief. The first identifiable children’s poet was probably Watts, whose memorable jingles, Divine Songs for Children, were popular from the early 18th c (1715 ) . Also, at about this time, collections or nursery rhymes began to appear, highghiting Ann and Jane Taylor, whose first book, Original Poems for infant Minds ( Twinklem twinkle little star included ) was very successful .



Including Literature in the FL teaching contributes to the students’ general knowledge and their intellectual, social and moral development as well as of its appeal to the emotions. Extensive reading provides the possibility of internalizing the language and reinforcing points previously learned vocabulary and structures are registred and learned without conscious attention as well as concepts are reinforced by their discovery in a different context, and motivation probably the most important, coming from the students enjoyment when reading ( it gave pleasure by engaging the emotions)

And Literature is suitable for our pupils because they are familiarized with fairy tales, songs, rhymes, riddles…(mainly in their first language)

The students have certain characteristics that help them to acquire a L. By the exposure to it, like in the case of reading . These are the fact that short age pupils need demand immediate results to see their progress, so activities must be short and attractive changing often to another one. They express their feelings or ideas less inhibitidly than adults, they don’t mind mistakes, of what teachers must take advantages; and they always have expectations about the English class, they like showing what they have learned.

Foreign learners, to internalize the grammar and work out the meaning of words from their context, must have sufficient authentic and understandable material to work from ( Krasen – comprehensible input ). Reading most suitable texts for our pupils. For this, we must bear in mind aspects such as the students’ needs and abilities, that is to say their interest, age, level, rhythm of learning and their previous expectations about the FL class; the linguistic and stylistic level of the text, that is vocabulary, about what we must try the language to be clear, graded and with repetitions and the text must allow the pupils to make predictions ( about what comes next ) using their background and expectations

Certain our attention on the most popular works and authors we will destinguish some periods. As well have said, in the 17th century literature was written for adults (although read by children as well ) being so known works like Robison Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe and Gulliver’s Travels, by Johnattan Swift. In the 18th century began to appear some works written for choldren, such as The History of Sandford and Marter by Thomas Day, or series or short and attractive books called Gigantic Histories by Thomas Boreman, apart from rhymes and fairy tales. But it was the 19th century when Children ‘s Literature appeared as a genre. Until then , it didnt’s seen necessary to create a literature specially for children, and it wasn’t economically advisable. But, with mass education appearance a large market was created , permitting the possibility of distributing books for children.

In this period, we can highlight famous authors like Brothers Grimm, who wrote German Popular Stories or H.Candersen, who wrote Rairy Tales and Stories. About adventures books for boys the first one, Steverson. The most famous writers or children’s stories were Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice’s Adventures in wonderland and It was the Best Butter and Beatrix Potter, who wrote The Tales of Petter Rabbit and Tailor of Gloucester. Also , we must mention Oscar Wilde who, althoug h Irish wrote in English his best works are some like the Happy Prince and the Canterville Ghost. And within non English literature there are famous writers such as Louisa M Al cott and her Little Women , Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures or Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Heidi , by Johanna Spry or Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery. Finally, in the 2=th century we find different sorts of works. We can mention fairy tales that have become classic such as Peter Pan by J.>M Barries, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling , The Lord of the Rings, by J.R Tolkien. In this period many others authors have become popular. That’s the case of the previously named C.S. Lewis , who apart from his sciencies-fiction novels wrote the Narnia series; Raymond Breggs who wrote Jim and Beantalk , Rather Christmas , and The Snowman; Roald Dahl, who dealt with many interesting topics, specially for children in books like James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the chocolate Factory and many others.

Since the middle of 20th c. Literature, specially Children’s literature has become a publishing industry And it has paid attention to aspects like racism apart from differentiating age groups or attending the sex.

And different prize awards have been created, such as the Newbery Medal.

Traditional books are still popular among children,however children´s likes have changed. Today they prefer fantastic books, science fiction and ecological ones. Also, in this century comics have a great relevance. Comics appeared at the end of the 19th century., like for example “Ally Sloper´s Half Holiday”.


There exist many types ( genres ) of literature for children. We will describe some of them.

Probably, one of the most relevant is tales. They provide the possibility of repeating words and structures, helping children reinforce aspects of the language and concepts. They give clues helping them to predict about the content of the text. Tales use argumentative techniques and language suitable for children. They normally transmit moral values and approach the pupils to the culture of the language speaking community.

We can find different types:

– Fairy tales . suitable for children in the age of 9 or 10 like Rapunzel

– Animal´s stories and fables : in which the characters are animals

– Fantanstic literature of Travel´s and adventures : normally from legends

A genre with some characteristic similar to tales, is nursery rhymes. The main difference is that they are short, what avoid the pupils get bored because they don´t have to pay attention for a long time.

Rhymes introduce exclamations, many repetitions of words and structures, helping children to establish vocabulary, intonation, stress, pronunciation, new structures and also cultural elements and concepts.

This genre of literature permit different ways of explotation. It´s possible to introduce activities in which pupils move or play games. They are short and simple., so the pupils learn quickly.

As another genre, riddle is an ancient and universal form of literature, with a certain and common structure and intonation known by children. It´s a kind of puzzle question, an enigma. The earliest known English riddles were recorded in the Exeter book in the 18th century. Short or with many lines of verse, we find collections of riddles in many differents languages. Together to nursery rhymes, riddles are short and they have stressed intonation, what make them be useful to be used in the foreign language class.

Another genre is constituted by limericks, a light verse and with a popular fixed verse form in English. They are usually conformed by five lines. The name comes from the old English. The majority of them are anonymous because they have a popular origin. This form of verse is useful to practise pronunciation.

As a last genre , we will comment on songs. It is an important resource to use in the foreign language class, because the pupils learn with enjoyment. Songs help in the learning of vocabulary, pronunciation, structure and sentence patterns, specially because of repetitions. Also they give clues about the target language community. So, the didactic application of songs is very useful, but we must avoid overusing them. And we must select songs clear, well recorded and easy to sing.

When selecting a work of literature we must bear in mind that we want our pupils to engage interactively with the text, the classmates, and with us, the teachers. To reach this we must follow these guidelines:

1. The text itself, and not the information about it , is of central importance.

2. Our pupils must genuinely interact with the text, their classmates and the teacher and not be mere recipients

3. Our activities must be design so as to enable our pupils to share their personal experiences, perceptions and opinions.

4. Our activities must be varied and interesting. Duff and Maley give a list of general procedures that we can use in our classrooms:

– reconstruction

– reduction

– expansion

– replacement

– matching

– media transfer

– selection

– ranking

– comparison

– analyzing

5. The selection of works of literature must be based on their potencial interest for our pupils and not in the literary qualities of the works.


We can find authentic books or non-authentic ones.

Among non-authentic storybooks, we can distinguish between artificial, illustrating particular language points presentation and simulated authentic.

Our pupils aren´t able to handle authentic texts, so they must begin manipulating and practising with simulated authentic ones, developing the necessary skills to read authentic texts later.

According to Ellis and Brewster, storybooks can be classified under three headings:

-Narrative features



Narrative features will allow us to distinguish between storybooks of the following types

1. rhyming words

2. repeating structures

3. cumulative content and language

4. interactive

5. humorous

According to content they ca be divided into :

1. everyday life

2. animal stories

3. traditional/folk/fairy tales

4. fantasy

From layout point of view we can distinguish between:

1. flab

2. cut-away pages

3. minimal text

4. no text

5. speech bubles

When selecting foreign language texts, we must pay attention to vocabulary, structures and interesting topics. Apart from that, with this kind of books, the pupils get in tough with the cultural background of the country in which the target language is spoken. Ellis and BREwster analize the criteria for selecting storybooks:

Needs and abilities:

1. Content/subject matter:

· interesting

· amusing

· memorable

· relevant

2. Visual:

· use of illustrations

· size

· target language

· attractive/colourful

3. Encourage participation

· repetition

· develop memory

· prediction

· build confidence

4. Motivating

· relate to their experiences and characteristics

5. Arouse curiosity

· interest in to know more about English language and culture

6. Create positive attitudes

· target language

· language training

· target culture

To introduce books in the foreign language classroom, a small library may be created. The books would be classified according to difficulty level or other aspects. The teacher or the pupils themselves would choose the same or different books according to the level, interests…

Even a listening corner could be created, to listen to stories by cassettes or told by the teacher.

Also it is interesting teachers adapt tales for different purpose, giving way to many possibilities of explotation.

But when adapting a story we can´t simplified too much because our pupils could lose the flavour of real stories, so Ellis and Brewster give a guidelines to follow:

Aspects to consider

* Vocabulary and general meaning

1. Check unfamiliar content or words

5. Check idioms

6. Check clarity

* Grammar

1. Check tenses

2. Check use of structures

3. Check word order

* Organization of ideas

1. Check sentences length and complexity

2. Check time references

3. Check the way ideas are linked

4. Check the way the ideas are explained

* Story length

1. Check the number of ideas in the story.

By following the previous criteria of selection and use of storybooks we will intend to make the most of literature on the classroom


As we have seen, books and stories have existed for centuries. The most characteristic aspect of them is their special way of enjoyment; also we can learn different sorts of concepts and knowledge though reading books. So literature is a useful resource to learn a foreign language, to acquire it without paying conscious attention to the learning other the language.

We can use different genres of literature in the foreign language class, since a nursery rhyme or a riddle to a song or books narrating longer stories. But, what is really important is to bear in mind aspects such as the vocabulary used, sentence pattern, the topic…, to select a book or story. They must be suitable for our pupils.


HILL: Using literature in language teaching. MacMillan .London. 1986

Ellis,G. And Brewster,J. : The storytelling handbook for primary teachers.Penguin.London, 1991

Duff,A. And Maley,A. : literature.OUP.Oxford, 1990