Call for Papers (now expired)
English language teaching (EFL and ESL) is usually considered to embody a key role in education as a whole – also as an opportunity for the development of intercultural learning and tolerance, parallel to mother tongue education. High quality children’s literature can help readers learn to map the world story by story, in fine overlays of stirring narrative, while they successively acquire skills such as visual, critical, literary and intercultural literacy.
Children’s literature and young adult English-language literature across the world displays a stunning diversity, yet often remains entirely undiscovered by English language teachers, and consequently also by English learners. We consider this is against the best interests of children, young language learners and society as a whole, as the important contribution of reading to language acquisition and world knowledge, through young adult literature as well as graded readers, has been well documented. While English learning is so time-consuming throughout schooling and beyond, it is surely unacceptable that the potential for humanist discourse that arises through interaction between language learners and first-rate children’s literature is so manifestly under-realised.
The more complex picture books with their layers of meanings – often hidden in the pictures and picture/ word interplays – are highly suitable for thoughtful literary exchanges and the negotiation of meaning, and are a fine opportunity for rich English-medium education of young learners. Picture books pave the way towards extensive reading – the most pleasurable path to familiarity with diverse meanings and language patterns.
If children and teenagers, whose English language exposure revolves solely around openings for functional communicative learning, are later plunged straight into adult literature as advanced learners, they miss out on the affirmative, motivating and self-esteem-promoting educational potential of children’s and young adult literature, which is a vital apprenticeship to life and to becoming a reader. The need for a synergy between mother tongue literature education and English medium literature education, particularly in teacher training, has surely arrived.
The International Conference Children's Literature in Language Education – from Picture Books to Young Adult Fiction intends to disseminate information and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences on the power of literature for the young; approaches to children’s literature and young adult literature as a bridge to reading beyond school; gender considerations – the different attitudes of different readers – and the resulting consequences with regard to the canon of literary texts for EFL; and the debate around original children’s literature and graded readers.
Janice Bland and Prof. Dr. Christiane Lütge
Marienburger Platz 22
D – 31141 Hildesheim