Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2001
Books for Children
Meeting Children’s Needs with Quality Literature: Part Two
Pauline Davey Zeece, Department Editor
INTRODUCTION play, or to lose themselves and forget their struggles for
a brief time. Thus, many kinds of books may be used to
In the ninth edition of Children and Books, Suther-
meet children’s need for healthy change. Below are a
land (1996) noted a continuing recognition of the impor-
few to consider.
tance of using literature that reflects the basic needs of
children. Several of these needs were presented in a pre-
Rylant, Cynthia. The Old Woman Who Named
vious column; the remaining three are contained within
Things. Kathryn Brown, illustrator. San Diego, CA:
this article: the need to change, the need to know, and
Voyager Books, 2000. 32 pp., $6.00. Ages 5 to 8 years.
the need for beauty and order. Sutherland reminds those
who work with young children that despite social
The process of aging can be intriguing for many
change, certain basic needs seem to be common to most
young children, especially if they have no close friends
people and most times. The direction these needs take
or family members to learn from or watch. Rylant’s The
is inextricably tied to the interactions and experiences
Old Woman Who Named Things conveys a tender tale
children have during the early childhood years.
about an aging woman who feels lonely because she has
Wisely selected, developmentally appropriate books
outlived all her friends. She names the things in her life
provide a vehicle by which children learn how to main-
she knows she will never outlive—like her house, Frank-
tain a delicate balance between personal agendas and
lin, and her bed, Roxanne. Will she be able to face her
well being and social approval. According to Sutherland,
fear and change when a shy, brown, nameless puppy ap-
books may “directly or indirectly...help (children),
pears at her front gate? Young readers will eagerly await
particularly if they are written by sensitive, thoughtful
the conclusion and will be led gently to understand that
adults who are percipient observers of children and who
the more we change with age, the more we are the same.
remember their own childhoods vividly” (p.16). Below
are literature resources that help children better under-
Payne, Lauren Murphy. Just Because I Am: A
stand themselves and others and encourage adults to en-
Child’s Book of Affirmation. Claudia Rohling, illus-
hance such understanding in the context of rich and
trator. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing,
meaningful story telling and sharing.
1994. 32 pp., $8.95. Ages 4 to 8 years.
I am a person.
THE NEED FOR CHANGE
I am special.
I am important.
Anticipating and predicting change helps children
Not because of things I do,
feel more comfortable with themselves and their envi-
Not because of what
I look like,
ronment. Experts in the field of early childhood educa-
Not because of what
tion suggest that although predictability and consistency
are present in the basic organization of the environment
Just because I am.
of quality early childhood care and education settings,
novelty and change are also important (Feinburg & Min- Simple text and appealing illustrations heighten
young readers’ understanding of their feelings, theirdess, 1998). Sutherland (1997) posits that young chil-
dren may sometimes feel pressure from adult-imposed changing bodies, their ability to make mistakes, their
right to say no, and many other thoughts and needs thatroutines and the necessity of conforming to a code of
behavior and expectations that do not always make make them unique. A literary resource that affirms and
empowers children in developmentally appropriate andsense to them. Quality children’s literature may be used
to help young children take a break from routine, to joyful ways.
1082-3301/01/0600-0237$19.50/0 2001 Human Sciences Press, Inc.