Children’s Literature

Children's Literature

In this new video, Prof. Shailaja Menon talks to Bangalore Based organization GoodBooks about why it is important for parents and teachers to introduce children to Books at home and school. 

Resources for Read Alouds

Title: Engaging with reading through interactive read-alouds

Author: Shelby J Barrentine

Source: Barrentine, S. J. (1996). Engaging with reading through interactive read-alouds. The Reading Teacher, 50(1), 36-43.

Year: 1996

Suitable Audience: Teachers, Teacher Educators

Difficulty level: Easy

Link: PDF to be provided on request.

This is a practitioner friendly piece, well suited for anyone interested in literacy development through read alouds, especially teachers and teacher educators.. This paper draws from theory and gives concrete strategies to help practitioners understand how to conduct read alouds in practice. The author makes the case for a more interactive way of doing read aloud, as compared to the more traditional approach where discussion is pushed to the end of the read-aloud.The language of paper is simple and can be used by practitioners intending to adopt a more effective approach of reading aloud to children.

Title: The Power of Planning: Developing Effective Read-Alouds

Authors: Meagen K. Shedd and Nell K. Duke

Reference: Shedd, M. K., & Duke, N. K. (November 01, 2008). The Power of Planning: Developing Effective Read-Alouds. Yc Young Children, 63, 6, 22-27.

Year: 2008

Suitable Audience: Teachers, Curriculum Designers, Students.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Link: PDF provided.

We recognise that Reading aloud everyday is a quintessential part of a successful literacy or language classroom. A read aloud is “a joint reading opportunity which, when done effectively, has been shown to support young children’s language development, comprehension, vocabulary and overall literacy development.” How do we ensure children develop emergent literacy skills through a well planned, detail oriented and thought through read aloud? The paper makes some very useful recommendations, from choosing the right books, to setting the stage, to types of questions one needs to ask during read-clouds and so on. Read on to find out more!

Shedd_Duke_The power of planning_Developing effective read alouds 

Title:​ Co-constructing meaning: Interactive literary discussions in kindergarten read-alouds

Author:  Jessica L Hoffman 

Source: The Reading Teacher,Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 183-194

Year: 2011

Suitable Audience: Practitioners, Teachers, Teacher Educators

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

Basic literacy skills like print literacy, vocabulary, story comprehension may continue to be the focus of read aloud, but along with this there is a need to address the demands of changing society. Classroom read-alouds provide a great scope for development of higher level literacy skill instructions. The author defines higher literacy practices as those focused on actively interpreting and critically analyzing the story than only comprehending the story. This article presents a case of how the researcher and a kindergarten teacher worked in collaboration to redesign classroom read-alouds to incorporate interactive discussions in classrooms with focus on co-constructing the meaning of the story. The article integrates theory with practice and issuitable for teachers, teacher trainers and practitioners interested in organizing read-aloud sessions.

Title:​ Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices?

Author: Douglas Fisher, James Flood, Diane Lapp and Nancy Frey

Source: The Reading Teacher, Vol. 58, No. 1, pp. 8-17

Year: 2004

Suitable Audience: Academics, Students

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Research on read alouds have majorly focussed on importance of read-alouds in language development and literacy development, however, few have engaged with processes of read-alouds in classroom context. This article reports a study conducted in schools in San Diego. The study attempts to identify common factors for practicing quality read-alouds. Seven such factors were identified by the researcher and they were further explored to understand how widespread they are among all the teachers. Students and academicians may find this interesting for the nature of the study. Read more to know about it.

Resources for Understanding and Engaging with Children's Literature.

Title: Interpreting literature with children

Author: Shelby A Wolf

Source: Wolf, S. A. (2014). Interpreting literature with children. Routledge.

Year: 2004

Suitable Audience: Practitioners, Teachers, Teacher Educators

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

This book is informative and an easy read for all those interested in exploring ways to encourage young children to engage with literature. The book is divided into three sections. In the first section, the author defines and elaborates on the concepts of literature and literary interpretations, wherein she introduces critical perspectives to effectively frame literary analysis. The second section emphasizes on the representation of culture, class and gender in children’s literature. The third section explains ways to engage with  literature through writings, visual arts and drama. Concepts in each chapter are illustrated with excerpts from selected children’s literature, anecdotes from author’s experiences of classroom discussions and graphical representations that make it easily comprehensible for readers. Each chapter ends with a list of recommended books for teachers, providing a rich resource for engaging with literature in classrooms.

Title: Understanding Children’s Literature.

Authors: Various Contributors. Edited by Peter Hunt.

Reference: Hunt, P. (2005). Understanding children's literature: Key essays from the second edition of The International companion encyclopedia of children's literature. London: Routledge.

Year: 2005

Suitable Audience: Academics, Students, Curriculum Designers.

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult.

“I belong to the ‘demotic’ (that which represents the common people) tradition; I believe literature belongs to all the people all the time, that it ought to be cheaply and easily available, that it ought to be fun to read as well as challenging, subversive, refreshing, comforting, and all the other qualities we claim for it. Finally, I hold that in literature we find the best expression of the human imagination, and the most useful means by which we come to grips with our ideas about ourselves and what we are.” - Asian Chambers (Ibid)

What is it that comes to one’s mind when one thinks of Children’s Literature? How is Children’s literature defined? What is the link between Children’s literature and Literacy - What is its purpose? Is Children’s Literature worth reading? Is it worth discussing? Is it worth thinking about, especially for adults? What does it mean to look at Children’s Literature through the various lenses such as the Social, Cultural, Ideological, Historical, Political and so on? This book presents a select set of essays that provide the essential theory for anyone interested in venturing into the world of Children’s literature. It has something for every kind of reader - It outlines some practical approaches, it suggests areas of research and also provides up-to-date  bibliographies - this we think is extremely useful!  

Title: The Reader, The Text, The Poem: The Transactional Theory Of The Literary Work.

Author: Louise M. Rosenblatt

Reference: Rosenblatt, L. M. (1998). The reader, the text, the poem: The transactional theory of the literary work. Carbondale, Ill. [u.a.: Southern Illinois Univ. Press.]

Year: 1998

Suitable Audience: Academics, Students.

Difficulty level: Moderate to Difficult.

“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

When one considers a text, and the author, what is the role of a reader in making the text what it is? Does a reader add anything at all? Does the text and what it speaks remain with the author alone? Would it be wise to consider the reader as a passive recipient of a text? Or on the other hand could we say that the text is nothing without a reader? Does the meaning of a text, solely lie in the control of the reader and his interpretation of the same?

Louise Rosenblatt suggests that we do not see any duality between the text and the reader. She says that the reader brings to the text his past experience and present personality and thus, it would be injudicious to say that the meaning is limited in the text just as much as it would be to say that it finds meaning in the reader’s mind, alone. According to her, the finding of meanings involves both the author’s text and what the reader brings to it. This is what she calls the transactional theory, where comprehension results from the transaction between the reader and the written word. Read on to find out how Rosenblatt defines a “poem” and to also find out if the two kinds of reading, what she labels as ‘efferent’ (non aesthetic) and ‘aesthetic’, are two extremes or more of a continuum.

Title:​ ​A Picture Book Primer. Understanding and Using Picture Books

Author:  Denise I. Matulka

Source: Matula. D.I, (2008). A Picture Book Primer. Understanding and Using Picture Books. United States of America: Libraries Unlimited.

Year: 2008

Suitable Audience: Illustrators, Librarians, Library Educators, Students.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

This book is an extensive guide on the subject of Picture Books. Divided into eight parts, the book describes in great detail different aspects of Picture books, such as the Historical overview, the process of publishing, the anatomy of picture books in terms of its different components such as book jackets, shape, size etc. alongwith details of picture space, design, styles etc. The book also dedicates two separate sections to Literacy and Libraries, positioning the importance of Picture Books for both the domains. Examples of close to 500 Picture books are used to demonstrate various elements.

Title:​ ​A critical handbook of Children’s Literature

Author:  Rebecca J Lukens, Jacquelin J. Smith, Cynthia Miller Coffel

Source: Lukens, R. J. (1998). A critical handbook of children's literature. DIANE Publishing.

Year: 1998

Suitable Audience: Librarians, Library Educators, Students, English Language Teachers

Difficulty Level: Moderate

This book is a comprehensive guide on Children's Literature. Starting from the basics of what children's literature possibly stands for, the book takes us through a range of genres such as fantasy books, biography, poetry, traditional literature and more that comprise the vast field of children's literature. It delves into different elements of literature such as the theme, plot, character, settings etc. The book also provides perspective on various issues surrounding children's literature such as censorship, multiculturalism etc. Finally the book provides a guide on pedagogical strategies on cultivating the habit of reading through read alouds, book discussions etc. Each chapter also provides a list of Western Literature to exemplify what is being discussed. Despite the fact that the books discusses Literature and context pertaining to the West, many of the guiding points mentioned can be applicable across contexts.

Title:​ ​Guide to good books: Criteria for selecting quality children’s books

Author: National Book Trust.

Source: National Centre for Children’s Literature (NCCL). (2012). Guide to Good Books: Criteria for selecting quality children’s books.

Year: 2012

Suitable Audience: Practitioners, Teachers, Teacher Educators

Difficulty Level: Easy

Link: PDF provided

Right to Education Act, 2009 mandated establishment of libraries in school. The big question then arose of how to select good books for the libraries in the school. A national consultation team involving experts from institutions, authors, editors, publishers, librarians, educators and non-governmental organization was formed to engage with this question. They came up with a comprehensive set of guidelines for finding an appropriate book for the library. This guideline lists the criteria and steps to help anyone who is interested in selecting books for children.

Guide to Good Books (1)

Resource on Children's Libraries

Title: Open Library

Author: Usha Mukunda

Source: Mukunda, U. Open Library. Retrieved from

Suitable Audience: Librarians, Teachers, Library Educators

Difficulty level: Easy


In this lucidly written piece, Usha Mukunda speaks about the different aspects of a vibrant and creative Open Library. She writes in detail about how a library's environment, physical appearance, usage, role of the librarian etc. can be thought of and planned. Most importantly this paper talks directly to practitioners listing various strategies and activities related to the functioning of a library. The activities are suggested for a comprehensive list of subjects such as selection of books, involvement of children, teachers and parents, usage of specific kinds of books such as Encyclopedia and Atlases, creative projects that can be undertaken by the library etc.

Resources on Story-Telling

Title: Storytelling and Imagination. Beyond Basic Literacy 8 - 14.  

Author: Rob Parkinson

Reference: Parkinson, R. (2011). Storytelling and imagination: beyond basic literacy 8-14. Abingdon, Oxon, England: Routledge.

Year: 2011

Suitable Audience: Curriculum Designers, Teachers, Students.

Difficulty level: Moderate.

‘Storytelling and Imagination’ is a painstakingly written book that promotes the idea of storytelling and story making as being essential catalysts in developing critical and analytical, integrative thinking skills. How can stories be used to facilitate learning - by improving comprehension, logical thinking, by creating motivation and enthusiasm for learning, by creating involvement of and a sense of community, by improving literacy and language mastery? Rob Parkinson suggests practical ideas that are a result of extensive practice during workshops that he conducted as well as the work of teachers who have developed some themselves. The book offers ideas you can use to develop a good, ongoing, creative and rewarding storytelling culture within a school context in particular, a culture that links to and feeds literacy and also reaches out beyond, making teaching of many other areas of the curriculum more effective and imaginative in general. It is a serious yet delightful read with many ideas to help one become a good storyteller, both oral as well as written, what with the many stories, exercises and even ideas on how to get on with the best lie (A story can make even a lie, delightful, you see)!

Title:​ ​Tagore’s Lokashahitya: The Oral Tradition in Bengali Children’s Rhymes

Author:  Suchismita Sen.

Source: Sen, S. (1996). Tagore’s Lokashahitya: The Oral Tradition in Bengali Children’s Rhymes. Asian Folklore Studies, 55, 1-47.

Year: 1996

Suitable Audience: Practitioners, Teachers, Teacher Educators

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

This is a translation of “Chhelebhulano Chharha" an essay on Bengali children’s rhymes by Rabindranath Tagore. The paper also includes a discussion by Suchismita Sen on the key ideas from the original essay. A number of rhymes from Bengali folklore are provided in the essay by Tagore, in an attempt to unravel the nature of rhymes. He compares rhymes to dreams for their fluidity and vibrant imagery and brings out their relevance in unburdening anxiety and sharing community experiences. This paper is an interesting pick from the archives for anyone interested in folklores.

Title:​ ​Oral Storytelling: Building community through dialogue, engagement, and problem solving

Author:  Doriet Berkowitz

Source: Young Children, p. 36 - 40

Year: 2011

Suitable Audience: Practitioners, Teachers, Teacher Educators

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

This is a practitioner friendly piece suitable for teachers, teacher trainers and those interested in engaging with oral storytelling. The paper argues that oral storytelling plays an important role  in community building, language development and problem solving among young children. With the help of narratives from classroom settings, the paper illustrates how an oral storytelling session can be made interactive and provides an opportunity for children to express their thoughts. The author briefly suggests ways and tips for practitioner to engage children in oral story-telling. Read the paper to know more about it.

Resources for Practitioners:

Useful Websites

  1. http://goodbooks.inA well curated website dedicated to Children's Literature in the Indian context, with book reviews presented according to age and very useful articles on topics ranging from Children's Literature in India, Defining Children's literature, to Promotion of reading habits in Rural Children and so on. They also have an online directory of Authors, Publishers, and Illustrators.
  2. An online repository of well known Internationally acclaimed English stories. While the context may not be Indian, the books that they have available as read alouds by some well known personalities sets a good example. They also provide activities that one could use in the classroom.
  3.'s story books are available online on this website. The books can be printed or downloaded. The best thing is all the stories are available in multiple Indian languages!
  4. This website too has a range of stories that can be read online. All one needs is to register free and access the stories made available. Not Indian in context, but a good space to explore stories for anyone interested in widening the horizon in Children's literature.
  5. website offers stories from different parts of the world. They have a few stories from India (mostly from Pratham's Read India initiative) in different languages such as English, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada. Click on the link to view the different books on offer. ​
  6. :This link will take you to Ten free stories in Indian languages read aloud​.
  7. is a PDF with about 20 stories from CBT publications. ​
  8. Ekalavya's books are made available for online reading. ​
  9. NCERT's select list of book recommendations with reviews.​
  10. - Scroll down to “Children’s Books”: An entire list of children's books are made available for download.​

Videos on Read-Alouds and Story-Telling

  1. : Art of story telling - A talk by Geeta Ramanujam. She explains the components of story telling and how teachers can include them in classroom. 
  2. : Room to Read's video in Hindi about four essential steps involved in read aloud.
  3. : Anubha Rastogi conducting an oral story-telling session. The teacher of the school is facilitating the process of story telling by translating the English story in children's language.
  4. : Interactive story telling session with Deepa Kiran
  5. - Despite not representing the Indian context, this video explains how to do Read-Alouds very effectively.

Interesting Columns

  1. A wonderful interview with the much loved Marathi Children's Literature author Madhuri Purandare. 
  2. Anurag Behar writes on the importance of libraries in building thoughtful communities. 
  3. Neil Gaiman on reading and libraries and the magic they weave. 
  4.    and : Akhila Pydah's blog on Children Responses to inclusive and responsible literature depicting disabilities.