I was talking to one of the teachers in our program recently about her use of children’s literature in her classroom. Every time I read Dr. Suess to my kids, I can’t help thinking how much fun these books are to read and how much ESL students could benefit from them. But, many of our students are adults who would understandably feel demeaned by being asked to read kids’ books.
The solution? Literary analysis. Get students to analyze children’s books as a genre of literature. In this way, students are exposed to texts that are simple and fun but are also required to do some higher order thinking. Not only does this save face (“I’m not reading kids books, I’m analyzing children’s literature!”), but it also requires a deeper level of thinking and encourages more complex language use.
Unfortunately, the technological supplements to these books are usually lame flash games with very little learning value, particularly for adult learners. However, the rare exceptions (useful online grammar and vocabulary games, for example) could be beneficial supplements.
Is this a gimmick to get adults to read kids books? Perhaps. But without a little encouragement, adult students might never be exposed to some very good (and very accessible) writing. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, if they’ve never read them, they should. These books are fun and fun is good.