Chen Qionghiu

Speaking Time and Room No.: 2006-9-22 16:00-18:00 Room I

Speaker: Chen Qionghui (China)


A thesis on the literature education in kindergartens

Chen Qionghui

(The Experimental Normal College of Jianghan University,

Wuhan, Hubei Province 430061)

Abstract The literature education in kindergartens is the best embodiment of the quality education, however, the “The Guideline of kindergarten education (experimental edition)” does not claim clearly about this. The theme activities in kindergartens do not contain literature education, either. To meet the needs of quality education, kindergartens should and also have the capability to carry out the activities of literature education.

Key words kindergarten, children’s literature, literature education, theme activity

Lack of literature education in kindergartens

Today quality education is vigorously promoted, and literature education should enter the world of preschool education. However, literature education in kindergartens does not receive great attention and there is little relevant research, which is a great pity for us to carry out quality education. The children’s literature theorist Pu Manting stated, “From the perspective of aesthetic acceptance, children’s literature in the literary and artistic works is most acceptable for little readers. So we should stress the role and function of children’s literature to enhance children’s quality.” [ ] The implementation of literature education itself in kindergartens is a manifestation of quality education.

Literary initiation should be as early as possible, but in the current kindergartens’ education contents, there is not a real position for literature education. The five education contents in “The Guideline of kindergarten education (experimental edition)” (limited as “The Guideline” in the following) do not mention literature education, in which only the “content and request” in the language part has touched upon a little about literature education: “4. Guide the infants in touch with children’s literature to feel rich and beautiful language, and through a variety of activities help them learn about the experience and understanding of the works.” “6. With the help of books, paintings and other ways, arouse the infants’ interest in books and writing, and develop their skills at pre-reading and pre-writing.” Here, children’s literature is used as methods and means or accessories to teach language. The author visited many kindergartens in Wuhan, communicated with teachers and leaders who were in charge of teaching, and looked up their plans for theme activities. At last I found there was no real plans for literature activities in current theme activities. There are three main reasons:

1. There is not any explicit request on literature education in “The Guideline”. The theme activities in kindergartens are designed basically following the contents provided by “The Guideline”. Since “The Guideline” does not have the explicit request, it will be very difficult for teachers to break this.

2. The infant teachers’ attainments in literature are a bit weak. They seldom research children’s literature and the theoretical knowledge is scarce. They read few literary works and know little about that. Therefore, they do not have a strong conscious sense of literature education.

3. The outstanding literary works do not popularize well. Now it is more prosperous times for the development of children’s literature, but the excellent works are not numerous and the works that infants and infant teachers can really read are even less.

In fact, in the theme activities in kindergartens, children’s literature can be seen everywhere. But we rarely or never see the theme activities on children’s literature. In the 8th issue, 2005 of Chinese core journal “Guide Reading on Education”, the author was very excited to find series of theme activity programs in an article entitled “The ugly duckling”. Its author was Tao Jinling from Education Science Institute of Nantong University. I thought that someone had started kindergarten literature education programs and rushed to read down. To my surprise, in the series of 17 branch activities, literature appreciation was merely a prelude, which led to the other 16 activities. And later there was no literature activity any more. The entire activities stressed scientific nature and knowledge while ignored literature. This is the reality we face like the words stipulated in “The Guideline” that as a very convenient and effective tool or means, children’s literature is widely used especially in language teaching. Now in kindergartens the language teaching materials that teachers use are actually a collection of children’s literature. But no one will devote to the literature activity programs. Children love children’s literature so much, why can’t we see it as a theme for education?

The significance of literature education in kindergartens

The literature education in kindergartens refers to the education of children’s literature. A member of Literature Research Society of the period of “May fourth Movement”(On May 4th, 1919 millions of students and workers demonstrated in Beijing to fight against empire invasion. This day is seen as the beginning of new democratism period in Chinese history.) Yan Jicheng said, “I think the real education of children, should first focus on children’s literature.” Because “Only children’s literature, is the most indispensable spiritual food in this period.” [2] Clearly the education of children’s literature is very important for children. Its significance on children’s growing is shown in the following aspects.

1. The musical, vivid, interesting and actable children’s literature language may develop infants’ language skills and interest in language, enlarge their vocabulary, improve their language perception and delight them. Professor Peng Siyuan, a children’s literature theorist said, “Children who are used to the pronunciation of Chinese characters have shown an intuitive aspire to the beauty of rhyme.” [3] The language of children’s songs and poems stresses rhythm and rhyme, in which onomatopoeia and reduplication words are largely used. “Ticking, ticking, it’s raining…”, “Chicken cheep, ducks quack…” “Little bamboo bridge, shaking and shaking, a bear comes to pass the bridge…” Such poems, their sprightly rhythm and rhyme can conquer every child and also develop their love for the mother tongue. Outstanding children’s songs for games can even increase pleasure, such as “The aster is blossoming; let’s count; twenty-one, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, and thirty-one…”;“The rill is running and chattering; my sister and I are picking cotton; my sister has picked eight catties and a half; I have picked an aster…” “You clap one, I clap one, one cat is getting off the plane…”etc.

2. Children’s literature can develop infants’ imagination and fancy. Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited, while imagination summarizes all of the world and promotes the progress. Imagination is the source of knowledge progress.” The infants’ imagination needs development. Under the guidance of literary works, infants can fly the wings of imagination to soar in a wonderful world different from reality. Such as “Mom, I pass through the woods with an umbrella. Will I become a mushroom?” “Grandpa Winter has white eyebrows. He puffs and then snowflakes float in the sky.” Such poems will allow children to fly the wings of imagination. The beautiful fairy tales can always meet children's imagination. The little match-seller must have been to the heaven, and lived a sweet life without hunger or cold with her kindly grandma. Every little animal who receives little rabbit’s exquisite gift must be very happy, and he will also think what pleasant gift he can give to friends.

3. Children’s literature can develop infants’ perception about beauty, initiate their minds, and help them immerse into the aesthetic scene and atmosphere and accept the influence of beauty. The fundamental characteristic of art is the appreciation of beauty. The training of infants’ aesthetic judgment depends on our ability to lead the children into beauty, where they can discover and experience beauty from excellent literary works. For example, in the infants’ prose The Mellow Spring, dragonfly’s soft touch on the water surface is described as recording an album for spring, which outlines a vigorous spring picture; In children’s poem Red Valley the maple leaves of the whole mountain are described as red candles, where children can see a red, pulsatile autumn painting; Children’s life story Little bowl tells the kindergarten life full of friendship, in which the little kids have beautiful soul.

4. Children’s literature can train infants’ healthy emotion and humanity. Infants follow the images of the works to experience the joys and sorrows of the bittersweet life. Thus they can understand the true meaning of life and form right values and worldview. Literature is the exchange of emotions, the communication of souls, and the dialogue of life. The strong feelings contained in children’s literature will deeply move the children and stimulate their emotion. Therefore they will feel real love and also learn to give love. Guo Moruo said, “One of the steps of human society’s complete transformation is the transformation of people. And people’s complete transformation should begin from children’s education of emotion and beauty.” [4] The melodious lullaby will definitely make the infants feel endless maternal love. And “If I were a snowflake,…I would like to fall gently in my mother's face, and kiss her and kiss her, then happily melt.” “…Red flower, blue flower, all open little mouths, and Mother Spring will feed them with rain water.” Using such poetic language to mold the children, how cannot give them love enlightenment?

5. Children’s literature can help children understand the society and nature and open minds. Children’s literature can not only lead children into magnificent literature world, but also teach them knowledge of natural science, humanities and social science. The fairy tale Little tadpole looks for mother teaches infants that when little tadpoles grow up they will become little frog. Children also learn many physical characteristics of small animals. Children’s drama literature Red light, green light and uncle policeman tells children to abide by traffic regulations. Children’s life story Magic words tell children to pay attention to language of courtesy. Poem Four season dolls describes the typical images of four seasons and children can preliminarily understand the characteristics of four seasons. All these works can give children instructions in knowledge and wisdom.

The implementation of literature education in kindergartens

The literature education in kindergartens includes the molding of artistic spirit and training of artistic skills. Artistic spirit refers to noble and honest moral spirit, firm and persevering and indomitable will, positive and optimistic attitude to life, and the spiritual quality able to love and hate. Artistic skills refer to means of artistic expression, the harmonious rhythm and rhyme of language, and the proper use of figure of speech such as personification, simile, exaggeration and symbology, etc. Artistic spirit and artistic skills are the unity of flesh and blood, and the unity of form and content. Without artistic spirit, artistic skills lose soul. Without artistic skills, spirit loses support. In theme activities, the teacher notices these literary and artistic elements and puts them into specific works, which gives infants various artistic feelings. In this way can we say we have understood the essence of literature education.

The implementation of literature education needs some aids, such as the use of multimedia class software and information, the display of relevant pictures and objects with appropriate music and other supplementary means. Infants are illiterate, so the works about story can be told, read or acted out. Children’s songs and poems can be beaten time and chanted, read aloud with expression, or arranged for performance. Zheng Zhenduo said, “Dramas can be rehearsed immediately, in any place, at any time. If it’s inconvenient to rehearse, it can be performed in a dialogue style.” [5] At the same time, we have to create beautiful surroundings full of child’s taste for activity.

The rich and varied forms of children’s literature have irresistible charm to children. In 3 to 6 semesters, we can adopt a progressive approach to arrange each literary genre in each semester, trying to make one literary theme activity every semester. With the literary theme activity we can promote other activities. In addition to the main purpose of literary awareness, we can also achieve other goals.

1.The implementation of literature education in baby class

We may see the knowing of children’s songs and children’s poetry as the center of theme activities in the literature education in baby class in kindergartens. In the first semester we may mainly use children’s songs and in the second semester use children’s poems as center. Around a large theme, the teacher selects a series of outstanding works and teaches in diversified ways, and then we can lead children into a world of poetry.

For example, in the spring, we may carry out a series of literary theme activities to show the beauty of spring. We may decorate the activity room into a spring scene with the pictures and objects that contain the features of spring.

Activity 1: Select the typical movie materials to represent spring and play them for children to help them establish a basic impression of spring. Spring is coming. Light green buds of grass sprout. The flowers come out. The dormant animals wake up. The swallows return from the south. The stream runs cheerfully. The ducklings play happily in the pond…

Activity 2: The teacher chooses some children’s songs and poems that can display spring such as Spring is coming, Spring comes like this, Spring rain, Three little girls of mother spring, Peach blossom, Spring news, What does spring say, etc. We may spend more time making the infants familiar with these works in flexible and diversified approaches. We can listen to the record sound and watch the spring pictures with musical poetry recitation. Then the infants will feel how wonderful spring is.

Activity 3: The students chant, sing and act with the teacher. At practice, we must beat time while chant. The way of beating time may be flexible and changeable, clapping hands, clapping other parts of body or playing the percussion instruments. In a word, infants should learn the rhythm and rhyme of language. We may also arrange movement to express the content of the poetry, which is convenient for children to remember and increases the pleasure of game. Thereby children’s interest is stimulated. Then we may hold a recitation contest as an achievement of the activity.

Activity 4: Guide the children to retell the contents of the poetry with their own language to express their understanding, love and praise to spring. The teacher should be good at finding the sparkle of infants’ thinking, praising their unique imagination and performance capability timely, and recording their performance as another achievement of the activity.

Activity 5: With these achievements we may organize the children to go to the spring nature to look for spring and feel the beautiful, vigorous and colorful spring scene of the recovery of living things. Combining the spring scene in the poems with that in reality, children will begin the artistic association. Record that day’s activities with a video camera or a camera as the third achievement of the activity.

Activity 6: Combine the poetry appreciation with music and dance. Teach the infants children’s songs such as Where is spring and let them dance by themselves. Sing the love for the beautiful spring and dance at the same time as the fourth achievement of the activity.

Activity 7: Combine the poetry appreciation with painting. Guide the children to draw the spring scene in their eyes and strongly commend the one who has a unique creation. Hold a small exhibition of their drawings as the fifth achievement of the activity.

If necessary, we may conduct some extension activities, one activity in one or two weeks. By means of the activity, children can understand spring and feel the beauty and boundless vitality of spring. They will learn how to love nature. On the other hand, children will feel the charm of poetry language, whose concise, imagery, lyric and musical nature are insurmountable for other art forms. This is the influence of artistic skills and artistic spirit.

2. The implementation of literature education in middle class

We may see the knowing of children’s songs, fables, infants’ stories and infants’ prose as the center of theme activities in the literature education in middle class. We may mainly use the works of story style. We need not be exhaustive but let the children feel the stories’ charm through theme activities and nurture their aspirations for truth, decency and beauty and rejection to falsehood, ugliness and evil.

With the typical live story images, we will guide the children to understand what are perseverance, courage, decency, wit and beauty. With the complicated and fantastic story plots, we will guide the children to understand the meaning of striking one snag after another, joy after sorrow, the road to happiness full of hardships and bringing new hope to a serious situation, etc. The unique story environment will attract children’s attention to forget the world of reality. In the world of fairy tales, there are continuous flowers, chattering birds and incessant grass. How cannot we immerse in the story that happened in such a place? Many infants’ life stories always take place in a happy family, a yearning kindergarten, or an interesting park or zoo. The beautiful story environment even becomes the life pursuit of many people.

When determining the theme of the activity, we may refer to the contents and images of the materials. We may use various teaching tools to allow the children to become familiar with works and understand them. For example, we may select a series of works that can display the role’s noble spirit and beautiful sentiment; the works that tell how truth, decency and beauty defeat falsehood, ugliness and evil; the works that show the role’s wit, bravery and warm heart; or the works that contain a series of theme activities. Owing to the limited space available, more examples will not be detailed.

3. The implementation of literature education in top class

We may see the knowing of children’s drama and performing children’s drama as the center of theme activities in the literature education in top class. Kids’ love for games and imitation is their instinct. And children’s drama activity is a senior and organized game. The comprehensive children’s drama activity integrates the literature, music, dance, fine arts, molding, and many other artistic means. When we transform the drama literature into drama activity, children will enjoy the full pleasure of games, imitation and performance. The interesting and distinct language of roles tempers the children's language skills, and stimulates their interest in language. The plentiful and interesting performance of roles tempers their performance capabilities and ability to coordinate movement. The dress full of children’s taste, the stage design and children’s music together give them happiness and enjoyment of beauty.

We may spend two semesters of the top class rehearsing two big dramas. First the teacher selects the script that children are interested in. Then leads the children familiar with it by watching the video materials of the children’s drama. With the competition mechanism, children will sign up for the performance of the roles. They will act the roles they like by imitating their language and movement. The teacher can also join in, which may enhance the pleasure of the game and the friendship between children and the teacher.

In 2005, there was a children’s drama rehearsal competition in all kindergartens in Wuchang district of Wuhan. The children showed great enthusiasm and performance capabilities, which surprised us. If this activity can be a conventional theme one in kindergartens, more children even all children in the kindergartens will join in it. This activity has enabled us to see that it’s completely feasible to carry out drama rehearsal activity in top class in kindergartens. By rehearsing children’s drama, children will experience many art forms and artistic skills, learn some literary manifestations, which will lay a good foundation for their subsequent learning and development. This is the specific expression of quality education.


The infants’ literature education is so important in quality education. We have to reexamine the scheduled education programs and teaching practice. In kindergartens we should conduct infants’ literature education effectively, not just see it as a language teaching tool. It’s our duty neglect to ignore children’s literature education. Children’s literature should send out a lush fragrance, display fascinating charm, help children to learn about nature and society, develop their intellectual curiosity, enhance their aesthetic sense and the perception about beauty, delight their body and mind and make their cheerful personality widely known…To our gratification, now many kindergartens have started reading training, but we can not be limited to this, we should go beyond it. Our emphasis should lie on the appreciation and experience and the implementation of literature education. The earlier such activity full of benefits carries out, the better it’s for infants’ healthy physical and mental growth. It’s beneficial for the development of the cause of preschool education.