Whole Language Literature Reading Instruction

By Czubaj, Camilia | Education, Summer 1997 | Go to article overview

Whole Language Literature Reading Instruction


Czubaj, Camilia, Education


A current trend in the pedagogical processes of reading instruction is whole language literature usage, displacing the basal reader technique of reading instruction. The basal reader was a compilation of stories selected by educational experts and publishers which were felt age/skill appropriate. The whole language literature technique uses children's literature and texts selected by the classroom educator. By utilization of the whole language literature technique for reading instruction, a greater level of reading comprehension is believed to be attained by the students. Some of the arguments to support the whole language literature technique are the educator's background, versatility, student tailorness, unit incorporation, learned experience approach, currentness, and student/educator interest.

The educator's background weighs heavily on the literature selection for whole language literature instruction. If the educator's background encompassed science, the educator lacked the instructional depth to teach English skills as well as an educator whose educational background was English with the basal reader. The science educator can select children's literature with a science theme to instruct reading, enhancing the students' schemata with science knowledge. With the selection of children's literature books such as Stone Soup, the educator can then instruct plant life, geology, or physics with the reading instruction.

Versatility, a major construct, to the whole language literature approach is accomplished when the basal reader is discarded. The whole language literature reading instruction permits the educator to select literature from the various educational disciplines for reading instruction. The basal reader tended to contain like literature with a common theme running throughout the reading curriculum. The educator can alter the reading material selection as needed, maintaining student interest.

The whole language literature approach can be custom tailored toward the students' reading potential; whereas, the basal reader fall short. The basal reader contained a level concept. The educator placed the students within reading groups depending upon the reading level the educator felt appropriate. All too often the student became "trapped" within these groups. If a student's reading skills improved, the student generally remained within the same group s/he was assigned to. Students were "labeled" by the reading group they were assigned to. The basal reading group exacerbated the teacher's time and creativity. The whole language literature approach allows each student to gain knowledge at their own level and pace with the whole classroom instruction.

Unit incorporation of reading materials is now possible with the whole language literature concept. The educator now has the opportunity to use reading instruction in a holistic unit instruction program instead of in "bits and pieces". The book, Strega Nona, can be used as reading material, in math as the doubling concept, and in science with yeast (a celled plant), or with a unit on heat. …

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