My Magical Journeys Through Books Education Essay

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My magical journeys through books started from an early age, long before my reading journeys began. Picture books are precious to me as they helped to quench my thirst of curiosity, my desire to learn new things, relaxed me and enabled my imagination to reach out to other worlds. It is because of this I truly believe that books are the key to social wellbeing and academic success .Wells (2009)also proposes the skills children develop in literacy is the major basis of educational accomplishment .

Some propose that it is through the magical interpretation of stories in children's thoughts, or 'storying', that children develop a wisdom of the world( Bruner,1985 cited in Wells, 2009) .Wells(2009)states that this manifestation of thoughts, advances a child's skills of understanding and philosophies.

The National Curriculum suggests that lessons should include 'speaking and listening', 'reading' and 'writing' wherever possible (QCDA, 2010). DCSF (2006:24) also states that by year 1 children should be able to 'Tell stories and describe incidents from their own experience in an audible voice'.The National curriculum values literacy and purposes to deliver children with chances to learn the importance of books. Throughout school, stories are utilised across the curriculum to disburse new knowledge and create a foundation for previous learning (Wells, 2009).

Books do not only help a child with their literacy skills, they can also be used as a holistic tool across the curriculum, for example; geography can be used if the text is about a country that is unfamiliar to the children.The teacher can focus their lessons on educating the children about that country which can then be connected to historical and cultural features .

An example of a book that could be used in a lesson like the one discussed above is Masai and I by Virginia L.Kroll.this book tells the story of a little girl named Linda, who has been taught about East Africa and people called the Masai and throughout the story Linda, wonders what it would be like living as a Masai. This story could be used to scaffold lessons on Africa and the Masai people.

A quality story will discuss problematic issues as part of the plot. For example, Frog and the Birdsong by Max Velthuijs presents the notion of death in a placid, explanatory, yet comforting way. 

'Stories provide readers with access to a vast bank of other people's experiences from which they might learn the living of their own lives.' (Medwell et al, 2009:123).Stories may have benefits within the text which gives the children pleasure, develops their emotions, and improves their social skills and imagination.

They also learn to distinguish between 'good' and 'bad'. Some stories stipulate moral lessons and develop values such as compassion, kindness and consideration (Medwell et al, 2009).The emotional benefits of stories are extremely valuable as stories are the manifestation of thoughts that adults and children collect inside their minds.

The Littlest Dinosaur by Michael Foreman tackles creating new friends. Foreman (2008) also considers difference and inclusion. Children will connect to this story and may spark a discussion on their feelings. This book could support a self-development lesson, for example children could reflect on what they feel are their strengths and weaknesses.

Children frequently battle to understand their feelings and the conduct of others. Stories can help to support children as they often include subjects, issues and concerns that communicate directly to children. Teachers can also use these books to highlight issues within the classroom which the children may not have encountered yet to give them awareness, for example, growing up and stranger danger. The teacher can then answer any questions or queries which the children may have

In the story Gorilla by Anthony Browne, children will most likely relate to Hannah because her father is constantly too busy or too tired to take her to the zoo. Children may link feelings to this book, because they may not feel they spend enough time with their own parents or perhaps more commonly they will link the feelings of not getting what they want.Therefore this story shows children that the use of their imagination can be used if they feel that they are not getting enough attention and also helps children understand that they are not alone, providing an emotional benefit. It is perhaps straightforward to accept that the characters children encounter in books are a replication of people in reality. A student might associate themselves with a character they identify as being 'just like me'." (Gamble and Yates, 2008)

The text inside a the book can support the imagination too to some degree , but to ensure teachers cater to the needs of the class supporting the children with pictures helps those who struggle to envision the story without. Meek (1991) suggests picture books are not just favoured reading for or to children. They make reading for all an individual type of 'imaginative looking'

Snaith (2007) states that Illustrations in books are tremendously significant as they underpin the written word and offer imperative signs to assist understanding. The illustrations in the selection of books discussed in this essay. Pictures also help to strengthen the story by supporting what the characters and scenes surrounding them are like. A story with beautiful pieces of artwork as illustrations helps to engage and build upon the imagination.

Alfie Gives a Hand by Shirley Hughes is inscribed in un-intrusive third person narrative which provides the reader with the chance to make their own thoughts and decisions on the story without being 'spoon-fed' ideas. It is vital for children to imagine what they want as they perhaps could be confronting a relevant issue in their own way.

For children convincing narrative tends to be about everyday occurrence. The struggles in these stories are often related to increasing independence or developing physically (Gamble and Yates, 2008). The most common form of narrative structure within a story is the beginning, middle and end.

As human beings, our lives are in fact very messy and storying comes into play to attempt to impose an order (Chambers, 1985).Stories with emotional benefits offer the capability to connect and share out opinions and feelings with peers. Stories act to a help children who effectively gather their thoughts, feelings into a coherent collection

Fairy tales were initially envisioned for adults and children. They were passed down verbally to entertain and to transport cultural differences . Fairy tales are found in most cultures and many derive from the oldest stories ever told. Some modern fairy tales could be included in the more recently categorised genre of 'fantasy'." (DCSF, 2006)

The first recorded tale of Cinderella dates back to A.D 850 in China by Tuan Ch'eng-shih. Yeh-hsien wears gold shoes (Tatar 2003).It does not matter which style you read the same theme of 'rags-to-riches' runs through . Gamble and Yates (2008) advises children to look at books set in a unusual places this permits children to not only think beyond their everyday life but also to look at their own lives and come to comprehend the world.

Stories can also contain cultural benefits which can extend children's knowledge and understanding of the world by giving access to different cultures, such as in the story of Pocahontas we learn about two different cultures and even though they may live differently, they are both the same, which shows children that everyone is equal and everyone should be treated equally as this is important for children to acknowledge.

"For the young reader an information story can be a bridge from existing experiences to new ones" (Gamble & Yates, 2008: 48) and Margaret Mallet writes, 'the security of a familiar narrative framework helps consolidate knowledge gained from experience while opening up new ideas and possibilities.' (1999: 38)

For pupils new to the country, books with cultural benefits can help them learn about traditions and values of the culture they have moved into and pupils can learn about new traditions from the new pupil. An example of this is the story Topsy and Tim Meet New Friends. Topsy and Tim learn all about Jinder and her family's traditions, cultures and language which give children reading the book an insight to other people's cultures.

"The use of narrative tests in schools for early readers has a long and honourable history. In many ways the chronological, time based ordering of events centring around characters is perhaps quite close to how we all see life. Thus, narrative texts present few disjunctions and difficulties to those coming new to reading." (Graham & Kelly, 2008: 156)

"Realism in fiction means that everything in the story including characters, setting and plot could happen to real people living in our world. People act like people and animals behave like animals."(Gamble and Yates, 2008: 130)

By having illustrations in this story children are given an idea of what people from other cultures wear which makes it easier for younger children to understand rather than just having the text to explain. Illustrations also explain any misconceptions children have about people from other cultures, if they can see them in a book they realise what they first thought was most probably inaccurate.

Puppets, dual language books and a variety of story-tales from around the world will support those for whom English is an additional language. First-hand experiences and games to practise (with no need for the spoken word) also need to be planned. There are many excellent ideas in the Primary National Strategy document Supporting Children Learning English as an Additional Language.

Stories also contain language benefits which develops children's understanding of new vocabulary, they get to experience story language for example 'Once upon a time...,' experience narrative structure, and experience figurative language e.g. metaphor, onomatopoeia.

This story is also an example of high fantasy in that "the alternative world is entered through a portal in the primary world. This type of fantasy enables the writer to make a direct comparison between the two worlds." (Gamble and Yates, 2008: 122)

"Most writers are very careful with the language of their books, especially in picture books, where each word counts and is going to be read by teacher, parent or child scores of times. However you must also ensure that you have included books that offer rich images, simile, metaphor, personification and alliteration." (Graham J & Kelly A, 2008: 94) Each Peach Pear Plum is a good example of this as it provides children with rhyme which makes the read easier for children who are not as confident and therefore the children are then able to gain confidence in reading from this genre of book. "The fact that rhyming texts strengthen appreciation of onset and rime, so important to literacy development, makes them of central importance for the struggling reader." (Graham & Kelly, 2008: 156)

Conclusion

Conclusion, literacy remains at the heart of our English curriculum. It interlinks with every subject we need to teach and the ability of learning how to read and write. Providing science reports, historical recounts or writing letters essentially require good language and literacy skills. Therefore, as teachers we must rear children in a literate-rich environment, where the texts come from a range of cultures and have different levels of linguistic difficulty. Unfortunately sometimes it is the case that the only time children have with books is when they are in school, which is why parents are encouraged to guide their child's reading at home. Together as parents, carers and teachers, we can teach children the value of story and allow them to become much more sensitive to others and the world around them. Effectively, books allow children to express and experience the emotional, cultural and linguistic benefits of story.

"If children are to develop their knowledge and skills in reading and studying literature, they need to have access to a wide range of texts." (Gamble and Yates, 2008: 177)

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