Function and Use of Literary Texts in Nordic Schools

Journal article by Anna Nissen, Michael Tengberg, Birna María B. Svanbjörnsdóttir, Ida L. Gabrielsen, Marte Blikstad-Balas, and Kirsti Klette in L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 21.


In this comparative study, naturally occurring literature instruction in Nordic lower secondary school is investigated in order to find out how lessons are organized, to what extent different genres are read and worked upon, and for what subject-specific functions and purposes literary texts are used. Implications for text selection by teachers are discussed. The study relies on four consecutive video-recorded language arts lessons from 102 classrooms in Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The function and use of literary texts were investigated by means of video-analysis and statistical comparisons. The analysis clearly indicates that literature plays an important part in Nordic language arts education. In all four countries, narrative fiction texts were favored above other genres. When the aim was to give students joint reading experiences, short stories and excerpts from novels were normally used. Reading literature for the sake of developing comprehension appears to be a dominant function of using literary texts in Nordic lower secondary arts classrooms. The present study also suggests that it is important for Nordic teachers to provide their students with positive reading experiences.

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Nissen, A., Tengberg, M., Svanbjörnsdóttir, B. M., Gabrielsen, I.L., Marte Blikstad-Balas, M., & Klette, K. (2021). Function and use of literary texts in Nordic schools. Contribution to a special issue Working with Literature in Nordic Secondary Education edited by A.F. Gourvcennec. H. Höglund, M. Johansson, K. Kabel, & M. Sønneland. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 21, 1-22.

Published Dec. 17, 2021 1:50 PM - Last modified Jan. 4, 2022 2:58 PM