Introduction to Children’s Literature forum reflections

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Do you have a vision for the future of children’s literature? Who will be the drivers of change?  

I hope that rich and engaging storytelling (content) will continue to be the mainstay of children’s literature in the future, in whatever media, print or digital. According to Madej ( 2003, p. 3), the history of children’s literature shows that narrative expression has evolved over time; whether it is created for education, entertainment or both, storytelling remains key to “shaping children’s human experiences and the way they learn” and constructs meaning in their lives. Madej also alludes to the possibilities and opportunity for story writers to use new media to create rich digital narrative to continue this evolution.

I am not sure who will be the drivers of change, although I can see how “empowered children” (McLean, 2013) influence the market and the facilitators (publishers). Current trends in education and curriculum could also be seen to drive change, in terms of content and delivery.

From the readings I have taken the following points to be key elements of any definition of children’s literature:

Children’s’ literature (narrative writing/storytelling)

  • encompasses a vast range of genre, form & media
  • serves many purposes and addresses a diverse range of needs (education, enjoyment)
  • engages, enlightens and entertains children
  • is written specifically for children (Winch, 2006); using language, ideas and themes that are within the readers grasp/accessible – relevant content

Pleasures in literature

For me, emotional engagement with characters and story are paramount. I find this is often the case with students as well. Recently, teachers in our school introduced literature circles to yr 6 students to engage discussion around reading and literature. A variety of narrative texts were selected.  A surprisingly successful book was Digger J Jones by Richard J. Frankland; the diary of an eleven year old aboriginal boy growing up in 1960’s Melbourne during the Referendum. Students really engaged with the language, they loved Digger’s “voice” and his take on the world at that time. There were some wonderful discussions about Digger’s life with his friends and family, discrimination and aboriginal civil rights.


References

Madej, K. (2003). ‘Towards digital narrative for children: from education to entertainment, a historical perspective’. ACM Computeres and Entertainment, Vol 1. doi: 10.1145/950566.950585

McLean, K. (2013). The Future of Children’s Books in Five Trends, viewed on 17 July 2014 at http://www.slideshare.net/BKGKristen/toc-bologna-2013-keynote

Winch, G. (2006). Literacy : reading, writing and children’s literature (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. pp. 393-413.

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