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Children's literature in the classroom and the curriculum

Smith, Vivienne (2015) Children's literature in the classroom and the curriculum. In: The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment. Sage, London, pp. 606-620. ISBN 9781446297025

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This chapter argues that although children's literature enjoys a relatively high profile in popular culture in the UK, its place in the curriculum is less secure. The chapter explores a number of possible reasons for this, including the effect of frequent legislation and curriculum change, an emphasis on literacy, rather than literature in the minds of teachers and policy makers, and an underdeveloped understanding of why children’s literature matters. The chapter argues that because of the cognitive gains that can result from reading literary fiction, children's literature in the curriculum has the potential to be the engine for social mobility and the closing of the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children. It calls therefore for a radical reassessment of the place of children’s literature in the curriculum and a development of a pedagogy that marries deep knowledge of children’s texts with an understanding of the developing cognitive of young readers. It argues that children's literature should be at the core of the curriculum.