Literature in Early Childhood – Why is it so important?

Date :
August 5, 2020

Literature in early childhood is a critical part of a child’s education – and for more reasons than you might think. Access to a wide range of quality literature helps a small child to develop critical cognitive skills, an appreciation for their own culture and the cultures of others, the development of emotional intelligence and empathy, and the development of their personality and social skills. In essence, what your child reads in their early years helps to give them the tools necessary to become intelligent, thoughtful, successful people. 

Develop critical cognitive skills

Quality literature does not always tell the reader everything they need to know, and this allows young children to learn to evaluate and analyse the illustrations. Wordless picture books like those offered by Jeannie Baker or Aaron Becker are particularly effective stimuli for oral and written language. Young children can use the pictures to develop their own plots and dialogue. Conversations about these books between parents and their children or educators and children can develop, which offers a rich learning experience. This also helps to strengthen their cognitive function and language skills, and allows them to express themselves. 

Literature in early childhood education

Learn about their own cultural heritage and the cultures of others

Picture books like I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox or I Love Me by Sally Morgan provide a way for young children to learn about the multiculturalism of their own country, and the cultures of other people. Learning to appreciate their own culture and the cultures of others is a critical skill for young children to develop, as this aids in the development of their empathy skills. It’s also a necessary part of their social and personal development. It is especially critical in this instance that parents and educators carefully choose books written sensitively and don’t rely on cliché. Other books that are appropriate include Under the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell or Colour Me by Ezekiel Kwaymullina, or else this is a great resource for helping you to choose what to read to your child. 

Kids reading May Gibbs books

Develop emotional intelligence

Reading quality literature is also a fabulous way to help young children develop emotional intelligence. Stories have awesome power when it comes to promoting emotional and moral development. Children’s literature is uniquely qualified to provide numerous moments of crisis when characters make decisions based on their own morals while contemplating the reasons for those decisions. This helps young children to think deeper about their own feelings, and to develop their own sense of morality. 

For more information on literacy in early childhood, this University of Melbourne article is especially helpful. For more articles on early literacy, visit May Gibbs’ informative site today!

Librarian Bec

Librarian Bec
Right now, Librarian Bec’s hard at work at your local library, sharing a passion for reading with little people and big. Bec writes about inspiring little readers and embracing lovely literature.