The involvement of parents in the education of their children is a very vital role in improving the learning outcomes and performances of their kids. Parents are involved in many aspects of a child’s education, including the choice of school, the choice of books to be used, and even the subjects that tutors need to teach (De Jong and Leij 428).
However, while the choice of school remains a critical role of the parents, the issue of parents’ involvement in the decision of the literature that their children are exposed to in school has attracted a debate from different interested groups and individuals in the education sector (Kragler, Walker and Martin 255).
One divide constitutes people who feel that parents are overstepping their mandates in making literature choices to their children. The other divide believes that parents are more knowledgeable and that they can make better choices in relation to the literature that their children read in school. This paper discusses whether parents should decide what literature is allowed for their children in school.
The Importance of Literature in Children
The current world is fact consuming where people want to get information that is accurate and relevant to the current situations in the world. To many people, literature among children involves reading children stories whose content does not even match real-life proceedings. This situation makes them question the relevance of literature in the education of their children (Stadler and Ward 73).
However, as it will be discussed, literature contributes significantly to an all-round studying and learning in children. Hence, it is inevitable and worth teaching. As Morrison and Wlodarczyk reveal, it will be disastrous to eliminate it from the education curriculum (111). Education is not about passing information. Literature is very important in improving critical thinking skills among children to help them in vital areas of their learning, as well as in real-life situations.
Firstly, literature plays a vital role in advancing and promoting cultural values in a given society among children. For instance, it is worth noting that beliefs are founded on narratives, which are based on antiquities, folklores and traditions, faith, and allegories. Hence, for children to grow and contribute towards the beliefs, which they uphold, it is very important for them to study the narratives that define their values.
In this process, books play a very important role, although they are not the only ways through which such stories can be shared (Kragler, Walker and Martin 257). For instance, in many English-speaking nations, the Bible has a significant influence on the cultures of such populations. As such, despite the Bible indicating religious connotations, it is still referred to in many children literature.
In this case, the references in the Bible indicate the social influences that religion has had on the fabric of such cultures and hence the reason why it is difficult to separate literature from the way of life of such populations.
Secondly, literature allows young children to build vocabulary, which ensures that they can communicate easily and interact with others easily. In addition, a rich vocabulary is also important in ensuring that children can learn and apply the appropriate language and vocabulary in other subjects (Harris 25). Through literature, children develop writing skills that are important in their communicative interactions with other people.
It is only through reading that children can be exposed to new vocabularies, which can help them to understand and communicate better with other people (Armbruster, Fran Lehr and Osborn 11). Through active reading, students can learn passively as they are exposed to new vocabularies while at the same time finding their contextual meaning in line with what they read in class. Such an approach is more effective than the drilling method that occurs when teaching new vocabulary in the classroom.
Literature is very critical in improving children writing skills. Without literature, it becomes difficult for both learners and their teachers to understand writing skills. Reading often plays a very critical role as a major process through which children’s reading skills are improved significantly (Edmunds and Bauserman 414). Through reading, children are exposed to how language usage should sound and feel when put in the right way.
This plan encourages the learning of language while at the same time promoting better writing skills. Further, drawing from various examples of literature by great authors encourages students to be exposed to various writing and language techniques that the authors have applied.
For instance, novels such as the Great Gatsby (Creed, Conlon and Zimmer-Gembeck 243), The Catcher in the Eye, and The Scarlet Letter are encouraged for their unique language and writing styles that the authors have used. Exposure to wide varieties of vocabulary through literature is therefore critical in improving children’s writing skills.
Lastly, literature is important in encouraging and developing critical thinking abilities. Education is meant to ensure that children are important members of the society once they complete their studies. Hence, as critical thinkers, they become productive in the society (Vincent and Ball 44). Narratives are imperative in this process since they often inspire critical thoughtfulness, especially through their subjects and questions that they address.
In the process of learning, teachers help the children to analyze their readings, understand other people’s opinions regarding the text, and/or formulate their views (Morrison and Wlodarczyk 112). Consequently, from the above exposition, literature is very important in creating all-round children who can communicate and interact with other people while ensuring that they develop critical thinking skills that allow them to be active and productive members of the society.
The Current Reading Trends among Children
To address the issue of whether parents should be involved in deciding the kind of literature that children read, it is important to analyze the current trends in literature consumption among children.
Literature is a vital subject in any education system all over the world. It is important since it allows young children to develop language skills and language usage prowess, which are important in achieving success in other subjects. Such skills help in making important communicative dialogs in real world scenarios. Through literature, children can get and nurture basic study tactics, develop their worldviews, and/or construct cherished talents.
According to a study by Harris, it is unfortunate that children are becoming increasingly resistant to reading (28). In other words, children are slowly abandoning reading as compared to before. While girls are better readers in relation to boys as Harris’ research has shown, the problem is increasingly facing both genders (28).
Fewer children are finding reading an interesting activity. Many commentators on this issue claim that children are being exposed to a lot of media and information more than ever. Hence, they cannot continue to develop or express the same eagerness in reading as before. Such behaviors where children are not much interested in reading are a cause for worry. They need to be addressed to ensure that children can accrue the benefits of reading.
However, what is causing such a decline in literature consumption is a matter of great debate. Some analysts are pointing to the deteriorating quality of education in many countries (Stadler and Ward 73). Others are pointing to the changing times where children are being exposed to much media, thereby slowly eroding the importance of literature as a way of ensuring exposure to societal norms and practices in children.
However, Stadler and Ward’s research takes a different approach by pointing out the important role that parents are playing in driving their kids away from the ever-developing reading habits (73). As it will be discussed later, parents are playing an increasing overbearing role in deciding what their children read. This observation may be a major factor for the declining interest in literature among children.
Parents and the Choice of Literature for their Children
It is without doubt that parents play an import role in the life of a child, including their education. From the time they join school, the college they get, and the literature the children read, it is indeed worth noting that a parent has a major role and influence in the education of the child. While these efforts are well intended in many instances, the outcome does not often turn out as expected. The efforts often lead to negative consequences for the learning and education of the child.
For instance, in the choice of literature, parents are highly involved in the process since they often buy or choose the books that their children will read, both in school and at home. According to Morrison and Wlodarczyk, the choices of parents concerning literature does more harm than good based on the many versions and platforms that the literature is presented (115).
For instance, parents who offer literature in the form of eBooks that are available on the internet often expose their kids to other immoral contents such as pornographic materials that they (kids) encounter in the name of searching the books. Hence, parents are a major reason why many children are no longer finding reading interesting as it ought to be in their tender age.
Firstly, parents’ choice of literature that the children consume means that while they (parents) may be more informed and/or have better wishes for their kids, the literature often fails to capture the interests of the children. Instead, it emerges as a push for the parents to have the children consume what the parents ‘like’ (Vincent and Ball 47). Unlike forgoing perceptions, children have developed senses of what they like together with what they do not like. As such, parents’ choices often do not reflect the desires and interest of children.
They discourage them from reading, thus leading to negative consequences for the children. To counter this problem, it is important for parents to take an advisory role by giving their children a bigger say in what literature they are going to read. According to Stadler and Ward, they should give the children the chance to choose what they want (74). Indeed, children are more likely to read more when they have been involved in choosing the kind of books that they want (Stadler and Ward 74).
Secondly, parents are often not in harmony with their children’s interests. Instead, they want to take a controlling approach to what the children read, or are exposed to. Many children in the third grade usually have a developed sense of interest in given activities. Parents should support them, instead of trying to dictate them.
For example, if a child loves sports, a parent can take a passive role in encouraging the child to read books that relate to the specific sport or general sports (Edmunds and Bauserman 416). The furthest the parents should go is to recommend various authors or books that relate to what the child prefers. Using this approach, children are likely to feel valued when they realize that their opinion matters. The motivation helps them to put more hours in reading and understanding the given literature.
Thirdly, in influencing the choice of literature that their children read, parents often pick books in a given age bracket, with total disregard of whether a child likes them or not. However, such an approach often limits the knowledge growth of children who may otherwise choose an alternative literature, which does not necessarily adhere to the age bracket. In this case, children are often stuck with books, which do not have a concrete plot and/or issues that encourage critical thinking (Vincent and Ball 49).
To address these issues, parents should not dictate what the children read by restricting the age brackets of the books that they children can access. Parents should understand that some children are highly intelligent to handle more than what their age bracket offers. As such, it is only through giving the children more say in what they read that the parents can cultivate better reading in their children.
Lastly, the over-bearing nature of parents is a major turn off to children. It often creates resentment among children towards the parents and the whole subject of literature. Indeed, parents’ control and restrictions on what their children read not only fuels hatred on literature, but also unnecessary curiosity where children want to read what they have been denied and not what they have been offered.
In such a case, children do not read whatever they have. Since they cannot access what they have been denied, they develop hatred altogether towards literature (Stadler and Ward 80). It important for parents to exercise, retrain, and give children more mandate in their choices of what they read for them to develop a reading interest on their own after reading what they are truly interested in, instead of trying to adopt what their parents want.
The role of literature in education cannot be overlooked. It helps children to develop important skills that allow them to communicate well and think critically. However, in terms of the choice of literature that the children read, parents have taken a major role to the detriment of the children’s interest in reading. Parents should give their children more say in the choice of literature that they read.
Such an approach will ensure that they (children) develop a genuine interest in literature. Without such an approach, although they are well intended, parents’ actions will drive children to start hating reading, hence leading to negative consequences that the parents never intended in the first place.
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