A love of literature can be taught. It’s not something that is innate in every child but it’s important that all children are exposed to the best writing and on a regular basis.
We’re all told to read to our children on a daily basis – this is to help bond parents with their babies and toddlers of course but older children also love to have stories read aloud to them. It’s a comforting time for both parent and child and another valuable part of it is the act of storytelling.
Storytelling is an ancient custom for humans. It’s thought to have been something even the earliest of societies indulged in – though of course, before books were available to most people, oral storytelling was the go-to. With the best tales being passed down generations and shared and retold over centuries.
The reason for our love of story is centred in our desire to understand humankind, what makes us tick, why we make mistakes and how to avoid them!
Escaping into a good novel is something all children can enjoy, and English Literature as taught in schools shows children how to delve even deeper into the great writing of the present and the past. This girls’ school in Beaconsfield places a strong emphasis on English Literature.
Introducing children to the past
Your child might enjoy the musical version of Oliver! But would they ever pick up a copy of Great Expectations if they’d never seen it? The likely answer for any parent who loves great literature is ‘of course!” and that would be because parents who share their own passion for literature are more inclined to challenge younger children with more sophisticated books.
Dickens is a wonderful introduction for children to begin understanding something of history. Particularly social history. There are of course many other authors whose work was produced in past centuries and who wrote stories which still resonate with children today.
This is why these books are still celebrated and used in schools today – if you’re interested in giving your child a head-start, you might consider some of the following as bedtime books. The age range is variable as some children will enjoy them sooner than others, but loosely, this list is a good one for children aged between 9 and 13:
Tom’s Midnight Garden
What Katy Did
The Secret Garden
All of these novels are set in another century, but all tell universal stories of struggle and personal growth and of adventure and danger. These are the themes which excite most children, and which of course can be equally enjoyed by us as parents.
As your child enters secondary school, the focus on English Literature will of course become more serious and the novels more complex in theme. Help your child to learn more quickly by ensuring that they have access to all of the classics at home.
If they struggle to grasp themes, there’s no harm in letting them watch the film versions of the classics. It can help to cement understanding of plot, especially if the language in the written version is archaic.