Recent shifts in language education have concentrated on developing students’ communicative abilities (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) in foreign and second languages. Despite these trends, many language classrooms focus heavily on the development of students’ knowledge of grammatical structures. Class activities are often intended to further students’ grammatical knowledge instead of developing students’ communicative abilities. In addition, students rarely have the opportunity to engage with authentic materials written by and for native speakers. This article describes a research study which was conducted in order to explore whether children’s and adolescent literature in Spanish might contribute to the development of students’ communicative abilities in Spanish. Sixty-eight students in three second-semester Spanish courses at the University of Arizona read two children’s books in Spanish, Me llamo María Isabel (My Name Is María Isabel) and Béisbol en abril y otros cuentos (Baseball in April and Other Short Stories) as part of the course. The study investigated students’ perceptions of their experiences reading the children’s books and their beliefs concerning the relevance of the books to their acquisition of Spanish. Students documented their perceptions through journal entries, surveys, focus-group interviews and a composition. Students indicated that the children’s books facilitated their learning of Spanish and helped them develop their communicative abilities in Spanish. My anecdotal observations of their experiences reading the children’s books confirm their perceptions.
How to Cite:
Hibbs, B., (2014) “Supporting Language Acquisition through Children’s and Adolescent Literature”, Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 3, p.58-75.