Topic 16B – Children’s literature in English. Techniques of didactic application to access the listening, initiating and strengthening reading habits and sensitize in the poetic function of language.

Topic 16B – Children’s literature in English. Techniques of didactic application to access the listening, initiating and strengthening reading habits and sensitize in the poetic function of language.


There is literary work that has been created with the aim of being used by children and there are some works that, although they were not created with that aim, they have been used for children for such a long time and have become part of “children’s literature”.

Even if it is children’s literature of not, we as teachers, should develop the interest in reading of our students. Encourage them to read stories of any kind…

To help students to conquer the written kingdom is one of the most important aims of all the educative systems.

The reading practice needs two requisites to be fully developed:

– To recognize many diverse forms within the text (paragraphs, letters…)

– To understand the meaning these forms have.

  1. Children’s literature in the UK.

Children’s literature in English has been the first literature of this kind studied and classified. It is a very important type of literature and it is included in the Cambridge History of English Literature.

Some famous authors of this kind of literature are:

– Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731): “Robinson Crusoe”

– Jonathan Swift (1667-1745): “Guliver’s Travel’s”

– Charles Dickens (1812-1870): “David Copperfield”

– Lewis Carroll (1832-1898): “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

– Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936): “The Jungle Book”

– Mary Norton: “The Borrowers”

– Pamela Travers: “Mary Poppins”

  1. Children’s literature in the USA.

Literature for children in America is the result of the culture, the life and the believes of this country.

Some famous authors of this kind of literature are:

– Peter Parley: “Tales of Peter Parley about America”

– J. Fennimore Cooper: “The last of the Mohicans”

– Herman Melville: “Moby dick”

– Louise M. Alcott: “Little women”

– Clement Moore: “Night before Christmas”

– Mark Twain: “The adventures of Tom Sawyer”

  1. Children’s literature in other English-speaking countries.

Both in New Zealand and in Australia, literature for children has been recently created. They usually used the British and American work.

Some famous authors of this kind of literature are:

– Ethel Turner: “Seven Little Australians”

– Norman Lindsay: “The Magic Pudding”

– Nan Chauncy: “Tangara”

– Ivan Southhall: “Ash Road”

  1. Reasons to use literature for children.

Children enjoy listening to stories in their mother tongue. For this reason books provide an ideal introduction to the foreign language presented in a context that is familiar to the child.

It is not the same to use a story for adults than a story for children. Children need books with a suitable language for them.

The reasons to use literature in class may be summarised as follows:

a) Motivation: Stories are motivating and fun and that develops positive attitudes towards the foreign language.

b) Imagination: Stories exercise the imagination. That involve children with the story, they try to interpret the narrative…

c) The meaning: They also wish to find a meaning. If they find it, they know they are able to understand the foreign language.

d) Linking tool: stories are useful in linking fantasy and the imagination with the child’s real world.

e) Vocabulary: Listening to stories allows the teacher to introduce or revise new vocabulary and sentence structures.

f) Linguistic accuracy: Develop the ability of understanding new words from the context.

g) Linguistic knowledge: Contributes to introduce new linguistic structures.

h) One more time: Repetition allows certain language items to be acquired.

i) Communication: Listening, reading and giving an answer to the stories are good ways to develop communication.

j) Cross-Curricular subjects: Reading stories help to teach them other aspects as social or cultural aspects.

  1. Techniques to develop listening comprehension.

a) Use mother tongue with beginner pupils from time to time.

b) Provide a context for the story and introduce the main characters.

c) Prediction of the contents.

d) Use the help of pictures, draws, cards, etc, while we are telling the story.

e) Follow-up activities.

f) Repetitions of the story: we can tell the story more than once to avoid that the children get lost.

g) Simplification of the story.

h) Rhymes and songs to reinforce the language introduced.

6.1. Techniques to understand the poetic function of language.

First of all, we need to bear in mind that literature must be a source of amusement and pleasure for the children.

We can encourage the reading habit of our students at the same time they understand the poetic function of language.

One of the best methods to achieve these aims is to read and to tell stories in class.

  1. Activities to do with a Literary text.

1. Pre-reading activities.

These are the tasks to do before telling the story that helps students to predict what is going to happen, to predict the vocabulary, the characters, etc.

2. Activities to do while telling the story: while reading.

The most important objective is that children enjoy the story. Some activities we can do are:

– Ask them what they think is going to happen next or before.

– Use mime, performances, etc.

– Put some pictures we give them in the correct order.

– Repeat words or sentences.

– Sing a song, etc.

3. Post-reading activities: after telling the story.

These tasks are called “follow-up activities”. They allow children to use what they have learned. Some activities we could do are:

– Draw part of the story.

– Make mask, puppets…

– Make a poster of the story.

– Invent a similar story.

– Perform the story, etc.

  1. Conclusion.

There are many activities that we can do with the children in our classes. They just should be creative and they should encourage comprehension and communication in the foreign language. If they fulfil all these requisites they would be motivating for our students and in a step-by-step process they would love literature