Why were The Denise Notebooks created?
As a general rule, educators do not aggressively use children's literature as an instructional tool. The reluctance of educators to use children's literature is a multifaceted phenomena based upon four recurring themes. First, many educators are not aware of the quantity of high quality children's literature that is currently available. Second, many of the best new pieces of children's literature are not included on various lists consulted by educators when purchasing instructional materials. Third, many educators limit the use of children's literature to enrichment activities. Finally, there is very little material available to show educators practical ways to use new children's literature in an instructional context.
The foregoing themes work against the interests of children and teachers alike. Children are effectively denied materials that are of interest, on one hand, while being confined to materials that are of no interest to them, on the other. Children are often confined to materials that do not lend themselves to the child's use of existing knowledge to develop an understanding of new words, phrases or concepts. While it is well established that children's literature can be effectively used in an instructional context, many educators have logical reasons to prefer basal texts. Basal texts are familiar and have practical activities that can be used by novice teachers. Moreover, in the face of increasing demands for service and decreasing revenue, even experienced teachers are being forced to place greater reliance on familiar materials. In short, many educators lack the experience and/or time to preview literature, write new lesson plans, and/or modify existing curriculums.