I am attending and giving a workshop at the international conference on Children’s Literature in Language Education - from Picture Books to Young Adult Fiction, jointly organised by the University of Hildesheim and the IATEFL Young learners and Teenagers Special Interest Group.
The conference promises to offer a wealth of academic papers, methodological talks and practical workshops and includes four strands to cater for every possible interest within the theme. These are:
Strand 1: EFL extensive reading - reading for pleasure; teacher training with non-canonical literature.
Strand 2: Pre-teens and teens: young adult novels, graded readers, non-fiction, poems and graphic novels.
Strand 3: Young learners: Picture books, poems and nursery rhymes; language acquisition with literary texts.
Strand 4: Storytelling and workshops.
According to the conference website http://www.childrenslit.de/ there will be presenters and delegates from the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Brazil, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Eritrea, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mauritania, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan ROC, Turkey, UK, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, USA and Vietnam.
As you can see from this impressive list, the importance of the role of children’s literature in language education is clearly alive and well in many corners of the world! I can’t help finding this truly heartening and also moving. In our discussion over the last few weeks, I’ve seen and delighted in the varied contributions which have shown how storytelling has universal appeal and relevance which transcends any narrow definition of culture, nationality or race. This has affirmed my deeply-held belief that when used frequently and lovingly, whether for L1 or L2 education or just for sheer pleasure and joy, storytelling can help us all - in our own small ways - work towards creating a happier, more tolerant, peaceful and harmonious world.
And what will the future bring? On a training course I ran recently, a teacher recounted how, when reading a picture book to her three-year-old niece, the child stabbed frustratedly at the pictures and complained: ‘But it doesn’t click!’.
Will our children’s grandchildren still be asking to be told or read stories? Will the stories themselves be different, or just the mode of delivery and potential for virtual interaction, as technology marches excitingly yet relentlessly on?
Over to you ...! It will be wonderful to hear your thoughts.