Children's literature in the classroom and the curriculum

Vivienne Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter argues that although children's literature enjoys a relatively high profile in popular culture in the UK, its place in the curriculum is less secure. The chapter explores a number of possible reasons for this, including the effect of frequent legislation and curriculum change, an emphasis on literacy, rather than literature in the minds of teachers and policy makers, and an underdeveloped understanding of why children’s literature matters.
The chapter argues that because of the cognitive gains that can result from reading literary fiction, children's literature in the curriculum has the potential to be the engine for social mobility and the closing of the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children. It calls therefore for a radical reassessment of the place of children’s literature in the curriculum and a development of a pedagogy that marries deep knowledge of children’s texts with an understanding of the developing cognitive of young readers. It argues that children's literature should be at the core of the curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe SAGE Handbook of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
EditorsDominic Wyse, Louise Hayward, Jessica Pandya
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2015


  • children's literature
  • theoretical positioning of children's literature
  • curricula


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