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Using Literature for Character Development:


Literature is a powerful teaching tool. The characters children and young people meet in the pages of a book can have a profound influence on them, almost as strong of an impact as that of real people they know and meet. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Communication and Outreach (2005) suggested reading character themed books to and with children, encouraging older children to read on their own, and discussing the books with children will help them absorb and develop the values of strong character.

As character education concepts are taught within the context of literature, students realize traits such as respect, honesty, courage, and kindness are real and interesting aspects of the world around them. Writers of trade books have much flexibility in their writing styles and can bring to the pages of their books richness of background, originality of style, and creativity (Gunning, 2012). Literature integration is an effective way to teach children about positive character traits, but Libresco and Balantic (2013) caution only if it is done by keeping character development at the center of curriculum and instruction.

So what is character? After examining character traits from the research literature as well as successful character development programs, a panel of 20 educators who possessed expertise in character education ranked character traits and recommended the following character traits essential to include in a literacy-based character development curriculum: (1) caring, compassion, kindness, and empathy, (2) citizenship, (3) courage, (4) fairness, (5) honesty and trustworthiness, (6) integrity, (7) leadership, (8) perseverance in establishing and attaining goals, (9) respect, (10) responsibility, and (11) team work and cooperation. These character traits are universally recognized by people from all walks of life and transcend religious and cultural beliefs. They are meant to be valued by diverse individuals who come from different backgrounds who may hold different beliefs.

Works Cited: The above excerpt is taken from the paper: Building character through literacy with children’s literature By Gina M. Almerico, The University Of Tampa; As Published in The Research in Higher Education Journal Volume 26 – October, 2014


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