Integrating Literature Into Middle School Reading

Studies have shown that access to literature is an important element in a well-rounded education. In reading classrooms, teachers are looking for supplemental materials to integrate into the curriculum. This article provides suggestions for implementing a variety of literature into reading programs.

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In the past, literature has been overlooked as an important form of education, but recent studies have consistently shown the importance of literature as a means for students to understand the important themes that make up our world. In 1981, a Bosma study introduced literary themes to middle school students with a unit on folk-tales. This was proved to be useful as a genre because folk-tales are predictable with archetypal characters, and are full of adventure, humor, and rich language. More importantly, by the end of the ten week study, 90% of the students were able to classify the folk-tales by type, and most of the students were extremely involved in the material.

Additionally, a 1985 study by Karabas and Leinwein suggested that drama could be integrated into middle school education, as a means to spur imagination, insight, reflection, and self-knowledge. Since middle school is such a time of growth for students, there is often heavy pressure through studies to 'grow-up.' Drama allows middle schoolers to use their imagination, and skills of 'pretend' while learning important literary themes.

Lastly, poetry can be introduced to middle schoolers as a way to get them to reflect on their childhoods. Even though middle schoolers are still 'children,' studies have shown that middle schoolers can be as nostalgic about their younger years as are adults. Poems such as Ann Sexton's poem, 'Fury of Overshoes,' can motivate students to read and write about their own childhoods.

In general, there are many ways to develop student interest in reading literature. Teachers have only to suggest books that match student interest, and have them be a part of the required reading. Teachers can also read literature aloud to their classes, and give students time to read in class, making sure a large number of books are available to students.

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