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Essay: Children’s Literature – can it be both didactic and entertaining?

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Children’s literature is defined, though there are several definitions in the literature, as now is recognized as an important field of study, both in itself and for the insights it yields into literature as a whole ‘ as well as into the family life, society and thinking of any given period, and the minds of the many major authors influenced by it (Johan,2012)
Children’s literature is a powerful method to instruct children about what is happening in the world, by themselves, and by other. Children’s literature encourages children to do brain storming thinking, creation, enrich their language and develop their information background and their personal character. Respectable children literature upgrade children thinking and broadening their cognitive background, develop their understanding and imagination, and enabling them to grow in better communication skills and respect for others. Children can connect with the characters, events, places, and problems in literature on a personal level. Such affective responses to literature provide opportunities for students to become personally involved in reading and learning (Brown, 2005)
Children literature is characterized through its content (topic and manner), quality, and values (personal and academic).
Children’s literature is diverse and varied. For example, children’s literature includes the following genres: picture books, contemporary realism, historical realism, fantasy, traditional literature, poetry, biography and autobiography, and informational books. Children’s literature can be instruction or entertainment oriented, and can be also used for the purposes of facilitating academic disciplines including scientific subjects, social studies, etc.. Using children’s literature have advantage over text books at schools since it provides the content in depth, and engage all the sensual skills of the child including voice-reading, writing styles, etc.
In this study, the researcher will address several parameters through the thesis statement that children literature can be both didactic and entertaining through addressing the purpose of children literature, didactism implications and purposes that may be served, and how to combine delight with instruction, and the difference between popular and respectable children literatures.
Children Literature Purposes:
the purpose of children literature In the 20th century trend was toward more respectful to the brain and imagination of children. However, in terms of didactism, it was less directly didactic. In addition, children literature became emphatic rather than directive narrative relationship with children. In this period of time, instruction and didactism purposes were given up, while focusing on offering enjoyment for children. However, didactism was considered secondary, www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/635
From the essay of Peter Hunt (Instruction and Delight), it is argued that children literature is linked to the issues of power and politics, and the adults ideologies on children. Furthermore, adults usually produce, write and buy books for children, thus imposing what literature that should be conveyed to children though they are not all aware of what the impact will be (children literatue study Guide, block1, p.12)
Furthermore, related to the need for children literature, let’s consider that teachers face difficult situations daily. Students come to the classroom with very different experiences and circumstances, yet all are expected to transcend those differences, focus on the curriculum, and meet the objectives established by the state. They need help if they are to transcend this wide range of socio-economic, cultural, family, and health circumstances, build understanding, and succeed in school. Therefore, by using children’s literature, teachers can help their class children through difficult situations, enable individual students to transcend their own challenges, and teach students to consider all viewpoints, respect differences, and become more self-aware. www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/635
Didactic implications and purposes:
All literature potentially teaches whether it is intended to or not. The distinction between didactic children’s literature and subversive children’s literature is that didactic children’s literature backs adult values that attempts toward teaching morals, life lessons, manners, and hygiene than subversive children’s literature, but more importantly is what it assumes about children. In addition, didactic children’s literature is often written by adults’ narrative voice to be directly taught to children in terms of all they need to know to get along in the world. Didactic texts consider children’s thinking as relatively simple in nature and that the main thing they need to do is learn to fit in to the adult world (didactic Children Literature studies, 2012)
Modern children’s literature didactically explores cultural preoccupations concerning gender, sexuality, race, and other current societal problems.
The implications of didactism in children literature is instilling certain ideologies in children including a sense of their place in the world asone paramount ideology didactically expressed in children’s literature; Socialization is the second dominant ideology as parents are the first to attempt to socialize their child. James Smith, professor of English at San Fernando Valley State College, describes how parents use literature to socialize their child (smith, 1967)

“Through their children’s reading, parents may hope to influence their attitudes and actions toward family, neighborhood, school, church, nation, or the world society. They may use books to shape a child’s values, to create or change his ideals. Such counsel, embodied in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, may cover a tremendous range of behavior matters’ obedience, independence, physical safety, doing chores, being honest, study habits, hygiene, attitudes toward school, being kind to animals. For many parents the book is still primarily a moral agent, an influence upon belief and behavior” (1967, 68)

Twentieth-century children’s books often didactically express the idea of ethnic equality. Thus the implications of didactism in children literature are to instill ethnic quality among interracial societie, spread socialization ideology, religion and nationalism (Carolyne, 2005)
Popular and Respectable Children Literature:
There is always from the early history of this type of literature a tension between respectable and popular children literature. Based on Grenby essay in (study guide of children literature, block1, p20), the difference between Respectable and popular children literature has several characteristics and differences from popular literature, though there is no clear cut-off between both of them. However, the respectable children literature has the following features: expensive, overtly moralistic, serious, religious and realistic while the popular children literature can be considered as: cheap, non-, oral endings, frivolous, secular and fantastic, respectively (Children literature Study Guide-block 1, 2009, p.20)
In this research, the question to be answered was whether children literature can be both didactic and entertaining. Therefore, to answer this question, the researcher attempted to address several relevant point which covered briefly the purposes of children literature, and the issue of didactism in this type of literature. Instruction or delight or both in children literature, and the difference between respectable and popular literature are all discussed.
Yet it noteworthy that some of our most beloved children’s books don’t teach anything and can’t be linked to an agenda of any kind. The critical point in this field is to think that children are the best arbiters, being naturally drawn to what is good and true.. After all, children literature should be emphasized due to its importance in the grow-up and development stage of the child to produce eventually a psychologically normal and creative generation in the future.


Johan Koren (2012). Defining Children’s Literature, Murray State University. USA
Children Literature: Study Guide. Walton Hall, Millon Keynes: the Open University, 2009
didactic Children Literature studies , the INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OFRUSSIAN STUDIES, ISSUE NO. 5 ( 2012/2
Children Literature: Study Guide. Walton Hall, Millon Keynes: the Open University, 2009
Lynch-Brown, C. & Tomlinson, C. (2005). Definition of Children’s Literature: Essentials of Children’s Literature, 5th edition. Chapter 1. Learning about children and their literature
Smith, James. 1967. A critical approach to children’s literature. New York: McGraw- Hill
To Instruct and Delightwww.randomhistory.com/1-50/024children.htm

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