My Education: Literature for Children and Young Adults Midterm

And now for your reading pleasure!  or would that be torture?

I got a 100 on my midterm and just had to share it with you. I did amend it a little for easier reading such as deleting all the footnotes. Kick off your shoes, put on your reading glasses, grab a drink and have a seat. Oh, you are sitting! The only down side of an online course is that you don't get to read the other students papers. I always enjoyed that back in junior college, getting to read everyone's stuff.

ENG360: Literature for Children and Young Adults
Midterm Examination

1) Describe the importance of literature for children and young adults that both informs and instructs.

It is very important to expose children and young adults to books that are both informational and educational such as historical, biographical, religious, or conceptual. Through the Eyes of A Child by Donna Norton discusses how "Informational books relay new knowledge about virtually every topic imaginable. Biographies and autobiographies tell about people who gained knowledge or made discoveries."

Photographs and Illustrations show the wonders of nature and depict the processes required to master new hobbies. Realistic stories from a specific time bring history to life. Historical books teach children about past events and people and gives insight on what it was like living in the past. "Snowflake Bentley" is an excellent example of an informational book that is historical and biographical. Wilson Bentley was a farm boy in Vermont who became fascinated by snow flakes and studied them. Through the use of a Photomicrograph, he captured pictures of snow flakes. Though the people of the town were very negative about his work, he pursued his passion.“But in those days no one cared. Neighbors laughed at the idea of photographing snow. "Snow in Vermont is as common as dirt, they said. We don’t need pictures.” He wrote a book called “Snow Crystals" which has over 2,000 photographs of snow, ice and hail. Children learn about the study of snow flakes and how to handle insensitivity of other people, scientific observation, perseverance, and dedication to a life time of study.

Another type of informational book is one that teaches about religious history. "The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica" is biographical and teaches about religious history. It is illustrated by Tomie DePaola who spent time with the benediction monks in his early adulthood. The illustrations are detailed, beautiful and incorporate many religious symbols. The story follows the life of twins born in Italy. Scholastica becomes a nun, and Benedict founds a monastery. He writes rules for monks to follow which eventually became known as the Rules of St. Benedict which the Benedictine monks of today follow. The story teaches children about love and devotion and exposes them to religious life. Besides historical or biographical stories, concept books are important in cognitive development As stated by Norton, “The use of concept books that illustrate colors, numbers, shapes and size may stimulate the cognitive development of even very young children.” Concept books, such as “ABC Book" and "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" help children learn their ABC’s. Other concept books teach children about shapes, colors, sizes and the senses. Books can be used to teach children just about anything. Through the use of historical, biographical and concepts books, children are exposed to new ideas and apply them to their life.

2) List the five elements of emotional intelligence as developed by Daniel Golman. Chose 3 of the elements and identify them in the readings we have covered in this course so far.

Daniel Golman (1995) identifies 5 basic elements of emotional intelligence that children need: Self Awareness, managing awareness, handling anxiety in appropriate ways, motivating oneself, and sensitivity towards others.

Self awareness, managing awareness and being sensitive towards others will benefit children throughout their lives. It is very important to teach children how to recognize and manage their emotions as well as recognize and be sensitive to the emotions of others. Literature plays a big part by exposing children to many different types of characters and settings. “A believable, enjoyable story needs main characters who seem lifelike and who develop throughout the story.” Stories in which the characters are well developed help children learn from their experiences as they read how the characters confront problems and grow through out the story.

In “Madeline” the children are exposed to different characters and learn to recognize whether someone is good or bad or sad. They learn how to show compassion when they visit Madeline in the hospital. In "Storm in the Night" children learn about relationships and how to handle fear. Thomas lives with his grandfather and one night the power goes out during a thunderstorm. Thomas’s grandfather teaches him how to overcome fears and that sometimes is it okay to admit it when you are scared. “Owl Moon” is about a young boy and his father going owling. As they go in search of an owl, the boy learns about self control: “But I never called out. If you go owling you have to be quiet, that’s what pa always says.” The little boy overcomes his fear as he walks through the woods: “I didn’t ask what kinds of things hide behind black trees in the middle of the night When you go owling, you have to be brave.” If used wisely by parents and teachers good literature can be used to expose children to different experiences which teach them how to recognize and handle their emotions, plus how to treat other people.

3) Describe some of the historical milestone moments in the development of literature for children and young adults beginning with the oral tradition of tale telling; explain how they changed the values and times of literature of this genre.

Some of the historical milestones moments in literature started with the oral traditions, the development of the printing press, the influences of the puritans and reading for enjoyment. Oral tales were being told on every continent around the globe. Ancient people were developing folktales and mythologies that speculated about human beginnings and attempting to explain the origins of the universe, and other natural phenomenon and transmitting history from one generation to the next These stories became the basis of myths, fables and fairy tales that would later be written down. In the middle ages, storytellers told stories about knights and noble warriors, creating epic tales such as King Arthur and the legend of the Round Table. Bards would travel from castle to castle spreading tales throughout the country.

Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable type printing made possible the printing of books and William Caxton invented the first printing press. The invention of the printing press led to the creation of horn books and chap books. The earliest book that became popular with children was Aesop Fables which is still popular today.

The puritans were influential in creating books that involved moral character. The most influential piece of literature written during this period was John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrims Progress.” It is an allegorical story about one man’s journey to heaven and the difficulties he meets on the way. It exposed many children and adults to a religious pilgrimage in a thoughtful and entertaining manner.

John Locke, an English philosopher was influential in changing people’s mind about children and reading for pleasure. This resulted in the publishing of Charles Perrault’s The Tales of Mother Goose. Perrault did not create these tales; he retold stories from the French oral tradition that had entranced children and provided entertainment in the elegant salons of the Parisian aristocracy for generations. People were beginning to recognize that fact that children needed to be entertained, as well as educated. By the mid 1800’s children literature had become more entertaining. The past influence of the puritan and Victorian age had changed and the influences of the age believed children should value and enjoy reading, rather than reading for educational purposes only.

Fantasy stories like Alice in Wonderland or adventure stories such as Treasure Island were opening up a whole new world to children. The fantasy and adventure stories helped stimulate children creativity and imagination. The oral traditions of the past have influenced the stories of the present. Through the invention of the printing press, more people had access to books. Writers turned to using books not only for entertainment value, but used them to teach moral values, new skills and how to handle just about everything possible from peer pressure to death.

4) Choose one particular developmental stage of a child and explain what type of literature is most likely to appeal to that audience and why.

Cognitive development is an important developmental stage for children. According to David Shaffer (1989) cognitive development refers to the changes that occur in children’s mental skills and abilities over time. Shaffer states "we are constantly attending to objects and events, interpreting them, comparing them with past experiences, placing them in categories, and encoding them into memory." Concept books teach children the names of objects and how to recognize them in real life. They are exposed to colors, shapes, numbers and letters. “Goodnight Moon" is an excellent book that is fascinating to young children because of all the colors and shapes. I started reading “Goodnight Moon” to my son when he was 6 months old. He would stare at the pages intently. When you read to a child and expose them to different picture and work books, their brains are absorbing and comparing the information. They are storing the date away into their memories to recall at a later time. When my son got older and we read “The Runaway Bunny”, he recognized that the picture of the cowing jumping over the moon was from “Goodnight Moon”.

Word books stimulate them mentally and as they get older, they start to understand how different things relate. By exposing children to good books, it stimulates the desire to read and learn. Children are like sponges when they are young and absorb everything they read. According to “Well Trained Mind, A Guide to Classical Education at Home," young children are described as sponges because they soak up knowledge. Through reading they are expanding their knowledge, and vocabulary, learning new things, creating building blocks for the future. As children become young adults and leave that sponge stage, they will be able to apply these building blocks of knowledge and analyze how things relate and fit together.

5) Explain what Bruno Bettelheim believes traditional literature has to offer young readers.

Bruno Bettelheim was a child psychologist and writer. In his book “In the Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales," Bruno Bettelheim (1976) provides strong rational for using traditional tales with children. Bettelheim believes that traditional literature helps children learn about life and problem solving, proper behavior and good versus bad. Traditional fairy tales such as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” teaches children to respect other people’s property and what happens if you don’t. My son was always asking why we lock our doors and what bad people we are trying to keep out. After reading "Goldilocks and the Three Bears” he was able to comprehend why; we didn’t want someone like Goldilocks coming into our home and messing with our belongings. We discussed respecting other people’s property and what Goldilocks parent may have done when they found out about her being in the Bears Home.

Children also learn from characters how to solve problems."The Empty Pot” is an excellent example of children learning through conflict. Children empathize with honorable characters and their struggles, learning that although they may experience difficulty or rejection, they too will be given help and guidance when needed. In “The Empty Pot” the emperor makes up a test to choose his successor. He calls all the children of the land before him and hands out seeds saying that the child who raises the best flower in one year’s time will become the emperor. The main character named Ping has always been able to grow anything, but for some reason his seed won’t sprout. He keeps tending and replanting it but is unsuccessful. His friends all have big, beautiful flowers and plants they have grown. They laugh and tease him, but his father tells him "you did your best, and your best is good enough to bring to the emperor". Ping goes to the presentation with an empty pot and the emperor chooses him. “I admire Ping’s great courage to appear before me with the empty truth, and now I reward him with my entire kingdom and make him Emperor of all the land”. The emperor had cooked all the seeds and was testing the children. The other children had chosen to use other seeds and not the one given to them by the emperor. I think it is a perfect example of perseverance, truthfulness, and peer pressure. When my son and I read this together, we had some interesting discussions about choices and being truthful.

Used wisely, traditional literature not only stimulates young readers’ imaginations, but provides simple lessons about life which will stay with young children for a very long time.

Did you make it through the whole thing? Did you learn something new? Congratulations, I applaud your efforts.

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