Magazine article Practical Literacy

Spreading the Wings of Asian Literature

Magazine article Practical Literacy

Spreading the Wings of Asian Literature

Article excerpt

I was very excited to discover and incorporate into my planning the beautiful and thought provoking picture book, Red Butterfly (Noyes, 2007). I was pleased to find this book because Asia is one of the three cross curriculum priorities of the Australian Curriculum. It has not been easy finding a variety of appropriate and relevant literature to satisfy this requirement of the new structure, though. In addition to the cross curriculum priorities, the Australian Curriculum is structured into the three strands of Language, Literature and Literacy (ACARA, 2012). While the curriculum has been compartmentalised, the intention is for each of the strands (Language, Literacy and Literature) to be integrated in the literacy classroom and not taught as discrete 'curriculum modules' (The Department of Education and Child Development, 2009).

I have integrated the three strands as a guiding framework to structure a Year 1 lesson around Red Butterfly which is a story based in China and tells the tale of a princess smuggling the secret of silk out of China. The author is Deborah Noyes and the illustrator is Sophie Blackall. This intriguing picture story book contains appealing, colourful pictures which enhance the story and clarify the poetic language. The language is non-rhyming poetry and the rhythm reminds me of poetry by Wordsworth. The beautiful language in the poem is used to create a flowing story with an uneven rhythm that requires the reader to pause and thus reflect about the message. This book is ideal to introduce Asian history and culture into the classroom and contains both a simple story and also scope for a deeper analysis, making it ideally suited for a wide range of year levels from the Early Years to the Middle Years.

I have created the following lessons as a suggestion for how this book could be used at the Year 1 level, reflecting the interrelated nature of the three strands. The lesson is initially contextualised in the enjoyment of literature and is further based within the framework of the Four Resources Model: text user, text participant, text analyst and code breaker (Luke & Freebody, 1999). Developing the code-breaker role is more than just teaching letter/ sound relationships, it is also developed by reading books which play with words through alliteration and onomatopoeia. This is evident in the story, Red Butterfly.

Commencing with a reading of Red Butterfly, the initial focus is on enjoyment and meaning, developing the role of 'text participants' (Freebody & Luke ref). The front cover is discussed and the names of the author, illustrator and title are pointed out. The children are then encouraged to make predictions about the story. The children's thinking is focused by identifying their prior knowledge of China and locating China on a world map. Their attention is directed to the word 'China,' printed on a laminated card and displayed on the wall. Other important vocabulary from the text is also be printed on cards and taught prior to reading.

The importance of developing vocabulary to aid reading fluency and comprehension has been firmly established in a meta-analysis by Stahl and Fairbanks (2006). Vocabulary learning can be maximised by reading books multiple times, discussing the text, drawing in children's responses and through reading in small groups (Blachowicz & Fisher, 2011). New vocabulary words of the week can be displayed on a world wall. Children with poorer vocabularies are less likely to learn new vocabulary incidentally and need the explicit, scaffolded instruction by a teacher (Blachowicz & Fisher, 2011). Extending vocabulary is one aspect of fostering language development. Goswami and Bryant (2007) explain that language development is critical to cognitive development.

Following a discussion of vocabulary, I would read the story and shortly, the children could join in with the repetitive line: 'In my father's kingdom there are many splendours'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.