The use of language features in children’s literature helps the child to be able to engage with the text in a meaningful way. While a child might enjoy any book, one that is packed with appropriate language features, will enhance that enjoyment into an extension of their language skills (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010). Further to that, The Australian Curriculum states literary texts can build on students’ existing knowledge and experience through the use of particular form and style (Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2013).
One such example of children’s literature is The aunties three (Bland, 2011). This is a humorous story of the unanticipated arrival of the children’s three aunties. Bland (2011) has used a variety of language features throughout the book to not only develop literary skills, but also to build enjoyment for the text.
The first of the language features that is evident in The aunties three is rhyme. Each line of the book is rhymed with the one before it. For example, the text states: “Get rid of your giggle and banish your whim. Put a dress onto her and a tie onto him. Bring out the biscuits and ready the tea, for behind the door are The Aunties Three!” (Bland, 2011). In this instance the words “whim” and “him” are coupled to produce the rhyme; as are “tea” and “three”. Rhyming in children’s literature helps to develop phonemic awareness (Winch et al., 2010). When children see the rhyme pattern taking place, they are able to make predictions about the words that are to follow. This is extending on their phonological skills of language (Allor & McCathren, 2003; Winch et al., 2010). Allor and McCathren (2003) also suggest that it is through this type of teaching of phonological awareness that children come to understand the form of language.
Similarly, Bland (2011) includes the language feature of syllables in this text. The author does this through the rhythm of the words. For example, “pack up your games, dismantle your toys”. When reading this, the audience naturally breaks this line into two parts, each containing four syllables. The use of syllables also helps with phonological awareness (Winch et al., 2010). Bland (2011) uses the syllables to put rhythm into his writing. The rhythm allows children to become engaged with the text.
Finally, Bland (2011) cleverly uses onomatopoeia to build the story. This is shown through the use of the words “knock. Knock.”, “crash!” and “rattle rattle” (Bland, 2011). The inclusion of these words adds a dimension to the story where the reader is able to relate to the sounds described. It is through this tactic that the author, once again, has the opportunity to capture the children’s attention.
The aunties three is fine example of how language features in children’s literature can be used to develop their skills and enhance the enjoyment as a reader. Teachers should take these considerations into mind when deciding the types of texts they include in the classroom activities, as the opportunity for literacy advancement is immense.
Allor, J. & McCathren, R. (2003). Developing emergent literacy skills through storybook reading. Intervention in School and Clinic, 39, 72-79. Retrieved from http://www.readitonceagain.com/articles/Developing%20Literacy%20through%20storybook%20reading.pdf
Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. (2013). The Australian Curriculum: English. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/English/Literature
Bland, N. (2011). The aunties three. Gosford, NSW: Scholastic Press.
Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.