Enhancing children’s self-esteem and positive attitudes through storybooks
Paola Traverso, Saturday 12.30-13.30

As research in the field of humanism in language teaching has shown, positive social attitudes and self-esteem are important factors in effective learning. Children who feel good about themselves, who feel secure and respected are more willing to welcome new challenges, to tolerate frustration and persist in the face of difficulty. These characteristics are not inborn but can be learnt. In the English classroom the teacher can help develop positive attitudes by creating a friendly and supportive atmosphere, a safe and non-threatening environment where differences are valued and individual needs are taken into consideration. Also children’s literature can be used to foster positive feelings. Storybooks in fact can evoke emotions and release tensions and can offer models of how to overcome conflicts and problems. Teachers can select and propose to the class appropriate picture books (authentic or readers) that address the themes of diversity and tolerance, self-acceptance and empathy.

Starting from the above premises, a multi-sensory approach to storytelling will be presented in this workshop. The purpose is to take different learning styles into account in order to facilitate comprehension and to favour pupils’ active participation and involvement. The focus will be on The Owl’s Song, a story that deals with the feeling of being different and with the experience of rejection and isolation . Examples will be given of how to introduce and exploit the story in the English classroom, how to stimulate the use of foreign language and encourage reflection on personal attitudes and social issues. A bibliography of other storybooks that deal with the theme of diversity and self-acceptance will also be suggested.

Paola Traverso is a teacher and teacher trainer. She works in Italy in an Institute of Educational Research (Agenzia Scuola, ex Irre Liguria). She has written several articles on storytelling and creative writing and two storybooks for children: Dorothy, Blackcat Cideb ( ERF award 2008) and
The Owl’s Song.