4 Children’s texts
It is clear that texts are everywhere, and that adults and children are constantly making meaning from them for a range of purposes. However, in this course, you will mostly focus on the sorts of texts that are written specifically for children, which might tempt and inspire children to read for pleasure and sustain their reading. These are referred to collectively as ‘children’s texts’. Most can be accessed on page or on screen and include, but are not limited to, the following text types shown in the interactive Figure 3.
In the school environment particularly, there is a tendency to value some of these text types, authors and genres over others. ‘High quality’ or ‘classic’ literary texts written by reputable authors are often privileged, whilst football magazines or comics might be viewed as having a lower status. Meanwhile, picture books are sometimes thought of as being for younger, or pre-readers. However, as the EU Expert Panel on Literacy states:
There should not be a hierarchical ranking of reading material. Books, comic books, newspapers, magazines and online reading materials are equally valid and important entry points to reading for children and adults alike. … Books and other printed texts are important. But in recognition of the digital opportunities, people should be encouraged to read what they enjoy reading, in whatever format is most pleasurable and convenient for them.
Constructing meaning from picture books and other illustrated materials, such as comics and graphic novels, can require sophisticated thinking and deep engagement. Likewise, there is no doubt that narrative texts are immensely powerful, and this is something you will read more about in Session 3. It is therefore important for educators to develop their knowledge of the broad range of children’s texts available and legitimise and champion these texts in the classroom, so children are encouraged and able to draw on their out-of-school interests and bring their reading preferences into the classroom. This is key as children’s preferences and tastes differ, and children interpret and respond to texts in different ways. This is something you will explore in the next section.