The Importance of Children’s Literature

By: Nathaniel McCabe

Children have always loved the idea of stories being read to them, but children’s literature does much more than just put children to sleep. Great children’s stories are stories that stick with children as they grow into adulthood. The lessons that children learn through stories has been proven to shape who they become in the future. 

A common misconception that is made in regards to children’s literature is that a lesson has to be the forefront of the plot. It is always good to learn a lesson but there is a better way to do so. Great children’s literature does not tell children everything that they need to know, this provokes individual thinking. This is to essentially say that stories should lay out all of the pieces for children to then piece together themselves and take a lesson from it. 

There are many reasons why children’s literature is important, there is an entire book on the importance of children’s literature and it is currently priced at $200, which shows that this has to be important. However, to establish the true importance, here is a basic overview of the importance of children’s literature. 

Develops Cognitive Skills 

Seeing the plot of a story play out gives children the notion of viewing life experiences which will benefit them when they end up in similar instances. This lines up with the idea that an adult can learn something from reading fiction novels, it is the same concept just on a smaller scale. The way that the conflict and resolution is portrayed gives a lesson which can then be translated over into everyday life. 

It has been proven that children who are attentive and engaged in story time as children grow to become successful figures in this world. The love of story time often turns into a love of reading that will continue on throughout all of life, this almost always leads to achieving extraordinary cognitive skills. Dr. Seuss touched on this in his famous quote where he says “The more that you read, the more things that you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

Exposes Important Values  

Similar to how life lessons are portrayed, important values are presented throughout many pieces of children’s literature. These values include, but are not limited to… 

  • Manners
  • Etiquette 
  • Family
  • Health & Hygiene

When a character of a story is shown washing his or her hands before eating, children pick up on that. Or when a character is shown showing gratitude to a loved one, children want to go home and reciprocate these actions of gratitude. 

As the importance of these values are shown to children, they absorb it and incorporate it into their lives. 

Builds Emotional Intelligence  

When a story is told aloud to twenty different children, there are twenty different takeaways. Each child will view the story differently in their head and when the story comes to a completion, each individual child will have their own different opinion

The beauty of this is that there is individual thinking being promoted. That is why there should not be one singular lesson at the forefront of a plot, stories like that make the individual thinking more limited. Successful children’s book author Mo Willems brings light to this idea when he said “always think of your audience, never think for your audience.” When an author makes an attempt at thinking for their audience, it runs the risk of taking away from the development of emotional intelligence. 

When children are free to hear the story for themselves and then put the blocks together to form an individual opinion, they become more involved in the story. That involvement is what builds emotional intelligence. 

Beyond The Story  

There are countless reasons why children’s literature is important, this is just a basic overview. Books that are read to children, or books that are read by children are vital pieces to their cognitive development. 

When children are free to make their own interpretation of a story, they are presented with the opportunity to build their emotional intelligence. 

For these reasons, quality children’s literature is always going to be important and quite frankly, should be taken more seriously in the publishing world as it is a key component in the development of children.

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