Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Role of Text in a Child's Life: How Do I Know What is Best?

There are so many options for children's books nowadays, it sometimes feels impossible to choose the best one for your child or student. Should we choose non-fiction, fiction, magazines? Rather than look at the types of books, looking at the authenticity of the text is more beneficial.

[Children Enjoying Reading]

So what makes up an authentic text? Authentic texts are simply texts that children can relate to and expand upon with their knowledge.

Some qualities of authentic texts are:
  •  Informational books that expand children's knowledge
  •  Gives the child the option to interpret the text in their own way
  •  Fosters a connection to the book and encourages conversation
What is an inauthentic text? Any book that focuses more on patterns, decoding etc would be considered inauthentic. They are meant to be taken one way and improve on a skill. For example, a book focusing on phonics may rhyme a sentence on each page. Inauthentic texts are beneficial because they can improve a certain skill for a child but can be repetitive and boring if used very often. It is best to have a good mix of both texts to read.

How does this look and affect writing? Children naturally explore the world around them and try to make sense of language and writing; inauthentic experiences with writing does not mesh well with the meaning making that children have learned through intense observation through their years before school.

Authentic writing activities have a large effect on motivation and satisfaction with writing. Activities that involve writing worksheets, copying text from a teacher, or writing letters repeatedly are not very meaningful and most of the time are very boring for a child. When a child is told to do a writing activity that has no meaning for them, they do not feel the satisfaction from doing something meaningful and therefore may not fully understand the concepts that are trying to be taught. To really cement important writing skills, it must be used in an authentic and meaningful way.

Some examples of authentic writing experiences:
  • Making lists and signs
  • Writing made up stories
  • Signing your name on a class attendance sheet
  • Writing notes to friends, family or special people
  • Choosing child-driven topics that they enjoy writing about
Happy learning! :)


  1. What an extensive post! You really show comprehension in your work. From the aesthetics to the writing itself, you really did a fantastic job. To present a challenge and a question, you are sure to get the parent's (or educator's) attention. From there, it is nice to see a concise list of some qualities of authentic text right away. These aspect catch the attention of the ready quickly and makes for a comfortable transition into the lengthier bulk of the post. One of my favorite lines in this post is "To really cement important writing skills, it must be used in an authentic and meaningful way."
    Great job!

  2. I really liked the importance you put on communication through text. It is so important that we find books that will not only excite the children but that it will inspire communication. it is great that we spend time reading to the children and then seeing what they are getting out of the text. We want to make sure that they are comprehending what the book was about and also understanding what the point of the lesson was about.

  3. This a good and informative text. I like that you not only explain what these types of text are but you also give examples. One example that you put for using authentic text is one that I am a big fan of. That is writing made up stories. This example definitely covers the three qualities you listed in the beginning. To write a child has to "expand" their minds, find an "interpretation" that fits them best, and form a "connection" that comes from either real life or made-up experiences.

  4. Wow! I really enjoyed the great information you have provided. You did an excellent job dissecting authentic and inauthentic literature. This is a great resource for parents and teachers to learn how to pick literature that children will enjoy. I think its important to know that having good literature can lead to authentic writing. If a child is reading uninteresting and monotonous books, and completing worksheets and copying text they will not develop a love of reading or writing. It is important to incorporate literature that children will be interested and that will get their creative juices flowing. Thanks for the great information!

  5. Authenticity in a children's literacy activity gives them meaning and makes them more likely to positively respond and remember the activity in a meaningful way. It is a teacher's and parent's responsibility to develop and encourage these activities in the early years, and if this is done in a effective manner, the children will seek out their own ways to have authentic literacy experiences.