Many teachers who work with young children in preschool and kindergarten ask: (1) What is the most beneficial way for children to learn to read and write in the classroom, (2) what are the most effective approaches for teaching children to become literate, and (3) what activities should the teacher provide for children learning to read and write?
To answer these questions, at least in part, teachers should consider the use of children's literature in their classroom. Children's literature in the early childhood setting provides entertainment as well as meaningful communication between the teacher and children. Through reading literature, they share pleasure, personal experience, and their historical and cultural heritage.
Children's literature can help fulfill the purpose of an early childhood education which is to develop in young children social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, and physical skills. In other words, a child is encouraged to develop as a whole child through a variety of activities while developing their personality and their learning during their early childhood education. For this purpose, children's literature is the best way to provide such a range of experience that enables children to develop and discover language and how to live their own stories, based on their own voice and ideas. They begin to connect stories in books with the stories of their lives. Therefore, children's literature can be valuable in many ways for early childhood literacy program.
Piaget's theories of child development support the use of children's literature with very young children. According to Piaget, children between 2 and 7 years of age fit into the preoperational period of development. For example, two and three-year-olds believe that if inanimate objects move, they are alive. Even machines which are able to move appear to children as living things (Russell, 1994). Similarly, Evans (1973, p. vii) explains:
He [Piaget] found, for example, that
young children believed the moon
followed them when they went for
a walk at night, that dreams came in
through the window while they were
asleep, and that anything that moved,
including waves and windblown curtains,
Piaget described this childhood trait at this stage as subjective logic, which makes children enjoy anthropomorphic and magic tales without questioning the logic a story. From Age 4 to 7, children learn to understand different perspectives from their own because they change from being self-centered to other-centered. During this time, children not only read fantasy stories but also more realistic stories to develop their relationship with others and to satisfy their curiosity about people and the world (Russell, 1994). Therefore, early childhood is the most sensitive period for children to feel and taste children's literature because they have a lot of imagination and creativity to interpret stories and relate them to their lives. Thus, in this second stage they can become authors of their own stores and further their language development in a pleasurable way.
While there are many advantages for using children's literature, the main purpose of this paper is to review the importance of literature for children in the early childhood setting, especially for developing their language as readers and for become authors themselves through their imaginations.
Children's Books and Good Readers
There is no easy way to teach literacy. However, as opposed to rote learning, children's literature can provide a more effective way for children to learn literacy because it helps with their natural development of language, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Children experience pleasure wile developing their literacy through children's literature. The more they enjoy literature the more easily they become literate. …