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Teaching literature in classrooms


Storybooks fascinate children. Generally, all the stories in the literature text books are read way before the school even starts or literature classes commence. This proves their inquisitiveness and love towards literature. So, how should literature be treated in classrooms? Is literature meant to only inculcate moral values, develop vocabulary and comprehend the character, setting and plot of the story or interpret the poem as per the teachers ideas? It is not meant to only answer few questions about the events and characters of the story or text and interpret the poem.

Literature is loved by all irrespective of the age and intelligence. So a language teacher has tremendous power to develop and enhance plethora of skills through literature. Some of the major skills that can be developed through literature are:

Sequencing events or information logically

Literature can help develop the skills required for logical sequencing of events or information, predicting what will happen next, visualising the poem or story and forming an image of it, identifying what is real and fantasy thus producing the same creatively, identifying facts and opinion in order to form arguments etc.

If every story or poem in the book is used to develop a particular skill then a range of stories or poems can be used to develop a gamut of skills plus help students comprehend the story or poem and develop vocabulary. Games, activities and worksheets are some ways through which we can inculcate these skills.

Writing skills

Literature can also be used to improve writing skills. If a piece of literature has impeccably written dialogues then students can be asked to analyse the dialogues, discuss why they think these dialogues are wonderful and based on the elements discussed, write their own dialogues. Likewise, if the literature has described the character elaborately, it can be used to teach descriptive writing using various adjectives resourcefully. This can also be used to enlist what all should be described and if there is any set order of events that needs to be described. Besides, this can be treated as a base to teach the interconnection between the character and the events in the literature.

Creativity and imagination 

Additionally, literature can also be used to develop creativity and imagination through drama, enactment, fantastical elements etc. Games can be played to develop imagination and help students develop the plot of the story for instance. Students can be asked to frame questions based on the storys character, events, problem, solution, setting etc. and in groups they can be asked to find answers for the same thus developing the story further.

Language skills

Eventually, use of literature can do wonders in language teaching. Literature can not only be used to develop moral values but some really important life skills that will help the students in other subjects as well. Always remember that until the child understands and comprehends language, the child will never be able to understand the language of Science, Maths and Social Sciences. Inadvertently, teachers generally treat literature as yet another subject thus depriving the students an opportunity to grow enormously.

If skills and literature can be juxtaposed then language teaching and learning can become all the more stimulating. Treating literature as a base to improve skills and ideas can help teachers to not only intellectually connect with the students but also emotionally support them. Therefore, literature teaching should focus on holistic development of the child.

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EducationWorld February 2024
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