Evaluating Literature
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Evaluating Literature. Table of Contents Criteria for selecting books to help kids develop personal insight and awareness of social concerns Aesthetic Response Literary Criteria: Plot, Characters, Setting, Theme, Language Genres:

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Evaluating Literature

  • Table of Contents

  • Criteria for selecting books to help kids develop personal insight and awareness of social concerns

  • Aesthetic Response

  • Literary Criteria:

  • Plot, Characters, Setting, Theme, Language

  • Genres:

  • Traditional Literature, Modern Fantasy, Poetry, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Biography, Informational Books


  • Selecting Books to Help ChildrenDevelop Insight and

  • Awareness of Social Conditions

  • (Burnett (1997), Huck, Helper, & Hickman (1993), Ouzts (1991), Pardeck & Pardeck, 1993, and Rudman (1995)

  • Well written and avoids didacticism

  • Appropriate to the child's developmental level

  • Appropriate to the child's reading level (If the child is to read the book independently)

  • Language familiar to children that is realistic in terms of their life experience

  • Multidimensional characters experiencing legitimate and relatable emotions


  • Selecting Books to Help Children

  • Develop Insight and

  • Awareness of Social Conditions

  • (Burnett (1997), Huck, Helper, & Hickman (1993), Ouzts (1991), Pardeck & Pardeck, 1993, and Rudman (1995)

  • Offers potential for controversy

  • Incorporates a variety of issues and themes which parallel the experiences of children

  • Explores the process of working out problems

  • Demonstrates clear channels of communication and responses to children's questions

  • Offers situations that generate genuine enthusiasm in the reader


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • Aesthetic Response

  • Was this a good book for you?

  • Did the book engage you at a personal level?

  • Did the book have a message of importance for you?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • Literary Criteria

  • PLOT

  • Is the story about something I think could really happen?

  • Did the main character overcome

  • the problem, but not too easily?

  • Did the climax seem natural?

  • Did the plot have a dramatic question that kept me reading?

  • Did the events seem probable and

  • credible?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • Literary Criteria

  • CHARACTERS

  • Did the characters seem real?

  • Did I understand the characters and the reasons for their actions?

  • Did the characters change in the story?

  • Were the characters multifaceted?

  • Were the characters people with whom

  • the intended audience could identify?

  • Did I care about the characters?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • Literary Criteria

  • SETTING

  • Did the setting show what is known about that time and place?

  • Did the characters fit into the setting?

  • Did I feel that I was really in that time or place?

  • If the setting was a fantasy, could I suspend disbelief? Did it hold together?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • Literary Criteria

  • THEME

  • Was the theme worthwhile?

  • Did the story portray problems realistically yet inspire hope?

  • Did the theme have a universal appeal?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • Literary Criteria

  • LANGUAGE AND WRITING STYLE

  • Did the dialogue among characters sound like real people talking?

  • Did the language sound natural?

  • Did the author use sensory detail providing specifics to bring the text to life?

  • Did the author use precise vocabulary?

  • Did the author show you rather than tell you?

  • Did the author make use of figurative language effectively? Use of imagery, similes, metaphor, personification?


JUDGING A BOOK

What about traditional literature?

Characters are usually symbolic of traits: virtue or evil, wisdom, stupidity. They do not change. They do not grow.

The setting is often vague, anytime or anyplace.In folktales the reader knows that it is a place where magic abounds.

The plot is simple. We know about the characters, setting, problem and very early on in the story.

The themes are moralistic such as reward for good/punishment for evil. Traditional tales are universal yet rooted in particular cultures and often contain cultural information.


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • What about modern fantasy?

  • Credibility is key

  • Can the reader suspend disbelief about the characters?

  • Is the setting consistent allowing the reader to understand the world that is created.

  • Are the characters actions consistent with the the setting?

  • Is the theme of value and important for children?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • What about poems?

  • Do they contain interesting rhyme,meter, rhythm that appeal to children and support the meaning?

  • Do they encourage students to enjoy the sounds of language?

  • Do they create fresh sensory images?

  • Do they encourage an emotional response?

  • Does the subject matter speak to children and delight them?

  • Does the form of the poem support its meaning?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • What about Contemporary Realistic Fiction?

  • Literary value must take precedence in selecting these books. See slides on Character, Plot, Setting, Theme, Language.

  • Is the content presented honestly?

  • Is the content integral to the story without sensationalizing?

  • Is the content or area of concern integral to the story or is the book clearly a book about an “issue”?

  • Does the book provide children with important insights about self, others, our culture?

  • Does the book provide children with hope?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • What about Historical Fiction?

  • The setting is Key

  • Is the setting authentic and provide enough detail ( but not too much) to give the reader a feeling that he or she is there?

  • Is the language of the characters authentic to the setting? Yet can the reader easily negotiate the language?

  • Are the characters’ experiences, actions, problems consistent with the time period?

  • Is the author’s style consistent with the time frame?

  • Is the theme worthwhile?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • What about Biographies?

  • See Literary Criteria

  • Is the character multifaceted?

  • Are the facts documented?

  • Does the author let you know when he/she is taking liberties?

  • Are their artifacts included to enhance the credibility of the text?

  • Is the person worth reading about?

  • Is there a balance of insignificant details and important ones to give the reader a taste of the setting in which the character lived?


  • JUDGING A BOOK

  • What about Informational Books?

  • See Literary Criteria

  • Is it up to date?

  • Are the facts accurate?

  • Does it encourage analytical thinking?

  • Is it reader friendly? How dense are the concepts?

  • Does the organizational format assist the reader?

  • Does the style engage the reader?

  • Are there the charts, diagrams, illustrations, graphs that support understanding of the content?


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