How to Select Literature Texts for Young Learners


The young ones have not got enough knowledge of the English language for them to understand advanced texts or be able to read voluminous texts.

For the young ones to understand the context of any literary text, the following must be taken into consideration.

  • The age of the young ones
  • The content of the text
  • The message of the text
  • The structure and language of the text
  • Natural and cultural concepts

Consider the age of the young ones

To select prose, a drama, or a poem for young ones, it is important to consider their age. The text should contain the happenings of their time. The language, structure, the materials selected should suit their age and the language should not involve past centuries’ autobiographies.

For example, when teachers select poems precisely, they should consider the interest, age, and environment of the pupils. Age should be considered simply because age has to do with the understanding of a language.

Age has to do with the theme since the experiences of pupils are limited. Their age sometimes may not allow them to understand in depth the happening in the society and the culture of the society.

The interest of the pupils should be considered simply because the interest of the young ones might not be the interest of the adults. Thus, in selecting poems to be studied pupils’ age and interest must be considered.

Consider the context of the text

This has to do with the language of the text which must be simple. The language must not be in advanced form. The language must be straightforward.

There are texts written many years ago such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Steueison’s The Treasure Island, Haggard King’s Solomon’s Mines, etc.

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For the young ones to be able to read these types of text, there is an abridged edition, i.e. simplified editions. It is these simplified editions that the junior ones are expected to read or study.

The language of any text to be studied by young children should be written in a simple language where we do not have the use many figures of speech and other literary items.

For example, The content of the text should satisfy the melodic techniques which have to do with music as much as possible. The poems to be taught precisely to the taught to the young ones must be in strict verse form. The strict verse form is measurable, it could be read melodically. Melodies can be composed with them.

A lesson plan presentation steps can involve the following. The first step in the teaching of a poem, e.g. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, can be the teaching of difficult words such as Twinkle, diamond, wonders, etc. after the teaching of the pronunciation and the meaning.

Step I: The teacher identifies the difficult words in the poem and reads them to pupils.

Step II: The teacher reads the whole poem two or three times to the pupils.

Step III: The teacher calls on some number of pupils to read the poem.

Step IV: The teacher reads again and the pupils read after him/her.

Step V: The teacher teaches the melody he has created for the poem.

Conclusion: The teacher encourages pupils to memorize the poem from home.

Consider the message of the text

 The message of the text to be selected should be the message in which the young ones have an interest. The message must be childlike and it must be something that teaches or warns the young ones.

It must be religious and it must teach some morals. The message should not be about rubbery, cultism, hooliganism, and all those vices that could mislead the young ones.

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The teacher should take time to read through a text to know the message before he recommends it to his/her pupils. The message of the text should be dramatic and musical. For example:

Dramatic approach: The message of the text is dramatic when characters can be made out of the poem that pupils are reading, e.g. the poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Star can be made into a character that pupils will worship or adore.

A female pupil can be made the star sitting in front of the class. She is advised to smile at her colleague and pupils come out one by one kneeling in front of the star and reading the poem. The dramatic method or technique of teaching poetry makes pupils remember and understand the content of the poem they are learning.

Musical technique: The text of the message is musical when musical instruments such as the drum could be brought to class with an appropriate rhythm. This is another technique appropriate for the use of teaching material.

Consider the structure and language of the text

 The structure of the text for young children should be simple. The language also must be simple and well-stated too. If it is prose, it should be prose that is not voluminous and is written in five or six chapters.

It should be pictorial. If it is a drama, it should be written in small scenes and the language of the dialogue should be the language of the young children. The use of figures of speech should be abandoned as much as possible.

The scene must be short and simple action should be exposed. The actions should not be violent. If it is possible, the poem selected must not be long, it must be in verse, form the verses must rhyme and must be melodic, and hence poetry text for the young ones should be lyrical.

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Consider the natural and cultural concepts

 The natural phenomena mentioned in the text to be selected should be those that are currently in the environment of the pupils. A text set in the desert cannot be interesting to the pupils in the forest region.

A text set in England may not be interesting to the young ones in Nigeria since the natural phenomena of Britain are different from the natural phenomena in Nigeria. Hence, pupils in junior secondary schools are advised to read text set in their environment.

As well culturally, the text selected should contain or make use of the culture of the pupils. Culture and society play many roles in literature and as such the text selected for the young ones should be the texts set in their society.

We go from known to unknown in education. The immediate society and culture of the pupils are what they know.

It is when they reach the higher or senior stage that they could understand the unknown for the pupils to understand any genre of literature, the text used should portray the culture and the happenings in their society.

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