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Many of the Christian books listed in this article are published by Concordia Publishing House.

 

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Bridging Literature to Bible Stories

“All children deserve to know the spiritual and religious beliefs that have shaped the world in which they live. This religious heritage is often conveyed in the form of stories.”Charlotte Huck’s Children’s Literature, Kiefer, 2010, p. 272

Students in our Lutheran Schools, whether they read a religious or a secular book, need to use their Christian beliefs and practices to view all literature through a Christian lens. For students to be able to do this, effective teachers make literature the heart of the classroom. Teachers use a variety of genres or types of literature, read high quality literature, and share and incorporate literature throughout the day in activities and subjects that they teach.

Students may have a basic understanding of what they are reading as they locate and recall the information. They even may be able to compare and contrast the information, explain the character, or the relations, but as they begin to critique, evaluate, and synthesize, which are higher levels of thinking, their comprehension becomes limited in meaning.

By reading high-quality variety of genres such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, traditional literature, periodicals, reference books, and even graphic novels, students must comprehend the text, understand text structures, and know the author’s purpose—which is called, “The Big Idea.” Examples of these are:

“The Big Idea” or main purpose helps students focus on what they are reading. Authors write for many reasons. Some authors may give facts or true information about a subject. They are writing to inform. Other authors write fiction stories or stories that are not true. They write these stories to entertain you. And still other authors may write to persuade or to try to get you to do something. The main purpose of the book is to understand the author’s meaning. Examples are: fruits of the spirit such as promoting values of love, joy, peace, forgiveness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are big ideas. The main idea of the text varies from facts and information, or it could be values such as friendship, cooperation, courage, responsibility. In Religion class or Jesus Time, the big idea or purpose is key to comprehension.

“Literature can educate the mind and heart.” Kiefer, 2010, p. 14Comprehension or making meaning has to happen in order for students to do well in school. So how can teachers help students comprehend? No matter what age, teachers need to model the following:

“Our fear should not be that children will know the Bible; rather, it should be that they will not know it. Whatever our religious persuasion, children should not be denied their knowledge of the traditional literature of the Bible. Through the Bible, children can link with the common bonds of humanity from the beginning of recorded time, as well as a foundation for future reading.” Kiefer, 2010, pp. 268 and 272

Bridge Literature to Bible Stories

As Lutheran educators, we shouldn’t be afraid of using the Bible and Bible stories in our reading curriculum. The Bible is traditional literature which helps students understand other literature through the characters, incidents, poems, proverbs, and parables. Children’s books based on individual stories from the Bible are especially useful to introduce children to literature. Include literature throughout the curriculum. Literature is best used when it is integrated, meaningful, and inquiry-based. The more content area courses can coordinate with literacy and literature, the more relevant and meaningful learning becomes. Kasten et al. , 2005

The following themes bridge religious and secular literature to Bible Stories.

Religious books

Creation
Friendship
Water, Baptism, Giving Thanks, and Heaven
tale of Three TreesChristmas, Easter, Jesus Stills the Storm, Anytime

Secular Books

Creation
the Sandwich shopFriendship
The World
Family, Love
Thank YOu Mr FaulknerThanks
Worries, Fear, Dying

 

Reading and comprehension strategies

By using these books with appropriate strategies, students become good readers and writers. Try a few of the following strategies:

Before Reading

During Reading

After Reading

Teachers assess the effectiveness of bridging literature in the classroom curriculum by checking the availability of books, discovering how much time is given for literature and reading, questioning and knowing the students’ interests, balancing and integrating literature in the curriculum, evaluating students’ growth as readers and writers, and reflecting how literature enhances students’ learning.

By bridging religious or secular literature to Bible stories and themes, we as Lutheran educators can help students apply a Christian lens to the printed, and now electronic, page. Literature helps students connect with what is happening in their world and enhance what they are learning by internalizing their knowledge. As students focus their Christian lens on understanding, comprehending, and learning from literature, they make meaningful connections to the many facets of their lives.

References:

Kasten, W.C., Kristo, J.V., & McClure, A.A. (2005). Living literature: Using children’s literature to support reading and language arts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Kiefer, B.Z. (2011). Charlotte Huck’s children’s literature. 10th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Lauren Wellen, Ed.D. is Associate Professor of Education, Department of Curriculum, Language and Literacy at Concordia University Chicago.