What is Literature-Based Instruction?

Literature-based instruction is the type of instruction in which authors' original narrative and expository works are used as the core for experiences to support children in developing literacy. The types of activities done with the literature are the natural types of things children and adults would do when reading and responding to any good book. For example, it is natural to share and talk about a good book after reading it; it is not natural to answer ten questions about the book. The teacher's role becomes one of planning and supporting authentic learning experiences.

Literature-based instruction is much more than giving students quality literature; it is doing the authentic things with the literature that all writers and readers would naturally do, and giving students support with these activities as they need it. As Wells (1990) indicates, children and young adults develop literacy (reading, writing, thinking) by having real literacy experiences and getting support from more-experienced individuals, who may be adults or peers. Research clearly shows that literature-based instruction helps all students become better readers, writers, and thinkers (Tunnell & Jacobs, 1989).


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