quality of instruction from teachers is particularly important in relation to
literacy, with international research showing that the provision of quality
instruction in the early years of schools is highly associated with the
achievement of age and skill appropriate reading level targets (Solity, Deavers, Kerfoot, Crane, & Cannon, 2000).
Teachers need to carefully consider how they are going to approach and use a
story in the classroom as this will essentially determine the effectiveness of
the lesson. For example, a shared reading activity, like in the lessons planned
above, could be employed. Shared reading has been shown to effectively support
both the language and literacy development of children. This type of reading is
guided by the teacher who helps students
develop independent reading strategies in a safe learning environment (Button & Johnson, 1997; NEPS, 2016).
Regardless of the strategy chosen, the children should be supported by
scaffolding learning to aid them learn in their zone of proximal development
and explicitly teaching vocabulary and comprehension skills. The children
should also always be considered active agents in their learning and construct
meaning based on their prior knowledge (Antonacci, 2000; Kelly, 2017; NEPS, 2016; Spencer,
Goldstein, & Kaminski, 2012).
way teachers can approach the use of stories in literature in the early years
of primary school is by encouraging students to personalise stories, an
activity that can be both an oral language and writing task. A wide-range of
research has highlighted various benefits associated with the use of
personalised stories in literature for children, including that it engages them
in story-telling, helps promote a positive attitude to reading, aids vocabulary
development and can even support readers who are struggling in class (Bracken, 1982; Kucirkova, 2014; Natalia Kucirkova,
One example of how children could personalise a story is by inventing
alternative endings to them (Kucirkova, 2014).
By placing an emphasis on individualised learning environments, children become
more intimately involved in their own learning. This active involvement in the
learning process greatly enhances their intrinsic motivation and provides them
with a greater sense of ownership over their own work. Further, there are
numerous story-making apps available if teachers wish to integrate technology
into their literacy lesson (Kucirkova, 2014).
children now immersed in a media and technology-rich environment from a young
age, to become entirely literate in the 21st century children need
to be competent in using 21st-century technologies. It has become apparent that
these advances in technology have brought about new ways of representing
stories to children, presenting many incredible
opportunities to improve children’s literacy. Digital literacy, often referred to as ‘new
literacy’ is an emerging concept of literacy that involve the production of
multimodal texts, disseminated on technologies such as iPads, tablets,
computers etc (NEPS, 2016).
The importance of digital literacy is recognised in the Literacy and Numeracy
for Learning and Life Strategy where it aims to ‘increase awareness of the
importance of digital literacy’ and to include a ‘students’ ability to read
digital material as part of the national assessments of English reading’ (DES, 2011).
books (e-books), where books can be read online or downloaded to different
devices like iPads or tablets, are becoming an increasingly popular. They can
provide further functionality to traditional textbooks such as they can include
interactive content and student activities (PDST, 2012).
A Morris et al., study (2013) however, revealed
that children who read a paper book were able to recall more details and order
of events from the story in comparison to those who read the e-book version (Parish-Morris, Mahajan,
Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, & Collins, 2013). There are also conflicting studies
published in relation to whether children communicate more when reading from
e-books or from paper books (Korat & Or, 2010; Moody, Justice, & Cabell,
Despite these conflicting studies, it remains unanimous amongst research that
while technology plays an important role in modern literary instruction, it
should only be viewed as another way in which the learning experience for
children can be enriched and should never fully replace paper books for reading
activities (Salmon, 2014)
conclusion, literacy is an integral component of
learning. Its importance is such that the ‘National Strategy to Improve
Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020’ recommended
that literacy instruction should be extended throughout all curriculum subjects
In order for individuals to fully participate in society, it is essential that
they acquire basic literacy skills. They are part and parcel of everyday life and
therefore it is vital that children develop language and literacy skills from
an early age.
The language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing are very much
interrelated and therefore it is important for teachers incorporate each of
them in their lessons and follow a balanced approach to literacy. A story
approach can effectively facilitate this balance and can undoubtedly profoundly
impact literacy development in the early years of primary school in a positive
manner. Young children have an innate love for stories and it is essential that
this is fostered from an early age, both in the home and school environments.