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Author's Purpose in Children's Literature

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will discuss the main intentions behind writing children's literature and provide examples from children's literature for various author's purposes.

Reasons For Writing Children's Literature

Why do I need to understand author's purpose? Author's purpose is the reason why an author wrote a particular piece. Usually, the purpose is to persuade, inform, entertain, or a combination of these things. As a reader, understanding the author's purpose helps you evaluate bias and more thoroughly understand the content. As a writer, establishing your purpose helps to create structure and identify both direct and subtle ways to reveal your message. Let's look at some examples of how author's purpose affects writing in children's literature.

Persuade

When the purpose of a story is to persuade the audience, the author is trying to convince the audience to feel the same way he or she does about a topic. For example, in the children's book, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, Sam-I-Am (the main character) goes to great lengths to convince the narrator to try green eggs and ham, despite the narrator's objections. When the narrator finally tries them, he realizes that he likes them. The purpose of the text is to persuade the reader to try new things. Readers should be cautious, however, of author's biases when reading persuasive pieces. Persuasive writers develop logical arguments that draw readers to the author's intended conclusion.

Inform

Sometimes, the writer of a children's story wants to educate, inform or teach his or her readers. Informational pieces can be about people, places, things, or events. For example, in The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, the purpose of the book is to inform the reader about the life cycle of a flower, while also sending a message about how determination leads to triumph. Informational stories are often nonfiction, but not always. Lauren Tarshis has written a series of I Survived books that are informative about major events in American history, told from the perspective of a fictional child.

Entertain

Sometimes a writer has no other purpose other than to entertain or amuse the reader. Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina is an entertaining piece about a peddler who has his inventory stolen by a group of monkeys while he naps. Students are fascinated as the salesman searches for ways to solve this silly problem. The author's purpose when writing entertainment pieces for children is to engage students in reading by making it enjoyable.

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