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  • Background to the Study

Literature has played a great role in uniting people and mobilising them for collective action. According to Kermode (2007), the great virtue of literary fiction is that it engages the imagination of those who study it to lead them into discovery and recognition by an unexpected and instructive route. It is little wonder that Iortyer (2019) sees literature as an imaginative commentary on human society which involves writing and reading books that try to mirror as well as analyse society and human experiences. One of these experiences which are lacking in modern society is morals.

Our society today has thrown morals to the birds. Therefore, where the creative spirit of society is weak, moral development cannot be easily enhanced. This is why literature plays the role of educating, shaping, influencing, developing and above all humanising those who study it.

Since our older generation has been so morally bankrupt, it is time to save the children who are tender and innocent (Mohammed, 2017). The adage, “Catch them Young” applies in this respect. Since children’s literature contains moral lessons for the young minds, such materials must be made easily available and used appropriately to groom a set of new leaders with a mentality that is truly African and devoid of the corrupting nature of the older society. Children’s literature could be seen as a realm of discovery for the young mind and nurturance for the young spirit. By facilitating the magical encounter between children and books of diverse human experiences, we foster their contact with a diversity of realities and nurture their appreciation for ways of life different from their own (Ada, 2011). These kinds of literature would build understanding, tolerance and harmony, as they tell the stories from the perspective of unity in diversity, and a child embedded with the spirit of such cultural integration grows to forget all bias and differences. This is exemplified in Chike and the River, African Night Entertainment, among others.

The precociousness of today’s children is gradually impacting the scope and meaning of Children’s literature. Children of today are in tune with the modern world hence their unprecedented exposure to life and its ideals and dynamics. This, however, does not change the fact that even though Children’s Literature could be enjoyed by adults; it is still the type of literature primarily designed for the pleasure of children. This, of course, does not foreclose the fact that most adults, and almost certainly the vast majority of those in positions of power and influence, read children’s books as children, and it is inconceivable that the ideologies permeating those books did not influence their development (Hunt, 2005). In conceptualizing Children’s literature, Nikolajeva (2005) agreed that Children’s literature comprises books that appeal to the sensibilities of a child. This is even as Hunt (2005) further corroborates that children’s books are different from adults‟ books; they are written for a different audience, with different skills, different needs and different ways of reading.

Iwuju (2015), makes a case for the categorisation of children according to their ages: “The age-levels widely accepted by Children Literature specialists are pre-school (0-4); very young children (5-7), middle-aged children (8-12); adolescents (13-15) and young adults (17-18).” This categorization is meant to, among other things, guide the writer of children’s books in considering the theme to deploy; characterization (especially in fiction), style and language use. This will ultimately guarantee productive writing and reading of Children’s literature. There are varied age brackets given by other schools of thought to enhance efficiency in situating age-range in Children Literature. This study however believes that it is safer to have four main age brackets in Children Literature. This is especially as we consider the rate of sophistication amongst 21st-century children where it is not even unusual to find children of sixteen in the university. This will also help to correct the fundamental weakness in Segun’s categorisation where there is no provision for those “child-adults” beyond 18. In the light of the foregoing, this research makes a case that ages 0 to 5 could be called lower class; 6 to 8, enlightenment class; 9 to 13, middle class; while 14 and above could be known as an advanced class. This could be helpful to potential writers and scholars of Children’s Literature. Indeed, writing Children’s Literature could be described as a herculean task. The onerousness of the task is captured by Iwuju (2015) when she said that writing for children is not an easy task. This is because their interest is not easily grabbed. The import of Iwuju’s postulation is that adult literature is easier to write than that of children. In adult’s literature, for instance, the writer is not subjected to the world of extreme care and caution in the application of diction as he freely uses words as they come to him. Despite this, Children’s literature is sometimes treated with disdain and prejudice as most institutions have not still recognized it as mainstream literature. In Nigeria, for instance, several universities do not offer Children’s literature and scholars wishing to undertake more research on it are discouraged by the fear of being treated with the same prejudice.

It is in line with the discussions above that this study sets out to determine the use of children literature in inculcating morals in primary school pupils in Pankshin Local Government Area with the view of proffering lasting solutions to the moral decadence ravaging our country today.

  • Statement of the Problem

In the past, as children, we used to hear stories of greedy people, thieves and liars and how they ended badly. These characters were given animal forms. And as children, we will always want to imitate the more commendable character. Looking at statistics, all these stories began to fade away from the year 2000 when Nigeria began to witness a mass influx of technology such as mobile phones, DSTV, and much more. Children and parents no longer sat together and discuss or tell stories anymore. Parents were out there trying to hustle for the family while children were trained by television and other peer groups. Today, those children of the 2000s are the ones who carry arms and become robbers, kidnappers, terrorists and bandits. Since technology has taken the time and attention of parents, then education can save the children who are young, innocent and full of energy.

If Nigeria must move forward, then the leaders of tomorrow will have to be morally sound. Therefore, it is the researcher’s interest to examine the use of Children Literature in inculcating morals in primary school pupils. The impact of Children’s Literature on the growth and development of the child cannot be overemphasised. Among the many functions of Children’s Literature is that it arouses a child’s imagination and extends the child’s horizon, it gives the child knowledge of the past with the present and imbues the child with those ideals and values that are so necessary for national development. To this end, Nigerian children authors have written modern fantasy stories, modern realistic stories, science fiction stories, historical fictions and a few biographies with varying themes ranging from perseverance to honesty of purpose, good leadership, selflessness and so on. All to educate as well as inculcate moral and ethical values in the child. For if Nigeria is to imbibe healthy socio-cultural values, she must begin at an early age. Children are the hope and future leaders of any society. Their minds are very impressionable and what they are exposed to early in life helps to shape or mar them.

It is in line with this that this study seeks to examine the use of Children Literature in inculcating morals in primary school pupils in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State.

  • Purpose of the Study

            The main purpose of this study is to examine the use of children literature in inculcating morals in primary school pupils in Pankshin Local Government Area.

            Other specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To determine the extent to which children literary works are available to the pupils in the school.
  2. To determine ways in which children literature contribute to the moral development of children in primary schools.
  3. To examine the kinds of moral values embedded in children literature.
  4. To find out the challenges encountered in the using of children literature to inculcate morals among pupils.
    • Research Questions

            The following research questions guided the study:

  1. To what extent are children literary works available to the pupils in the school?
  2. Does children literature contribute to the moral development of children in primary schools?
  3. What are the challenges encountered in the using of children literature to inculcate morals among pupils?
    • Significance of the Study

The benefits accrued to this study are enormous. This study shall be beneficial to a lot of education stakeholders such as pupils, teachers, government, literary writers and future researchers.

Teachers of literature will channel their energy towards Children Literature to save a group of young people from being consumed by an amorally decadent society like Nigeria. Teachers will come to terms with the fact that Children Literature is a viable tool that can be used to inculcate morals among children in primary schools. As the child subconsciously flips through the pages in books, the stories form ideas of his life and his world and would help shape the mind and thought of the child reader on positive socio-cultural and moral ideals.

Pupils who are the centre of this research will be taught to understand those good morals are better than silver and gold. Children Literature can teach the pupils to discipline themselves against the excessive love for materials things. Morals are embedded in Children Literature and as leaders of tomorrow, they will need good morals to make society a better place. This is because an important part of one’s personality and character is formed by what he is introduced to early in life, and reading according to research is one of the best possible avenues to bring up children and a key to developing this skill.

When the important roles of Children Literature are brought to the limelight, the government will see the need to make children Literature a compulsory subject in all primary schools. they will further make free provision of Children Literary works for all primary schools across the country. Children’s literature can act as a tool in the psychological and intellectual growth of any child. It could function as a footing for structuring and steering the highly impressionable conscience of the child towards positive social and moral ideals.

Literary artists will also channel their writings to accommodate children as their audience. Nigerian literary artists would be doing the nation a great service if they start from the cradle to erase tribal instincts from the minds and conscience of children with kinds of literature that depict cultural harmony and the need for upholding moral values like honesty.

When this study is completed, it will contribute to academic knowledge by serving as reference material for future researchers who would want to research Children Literature. The study would show that children’s books in Nigeria now can integrate the child more and in the process inculcating moral values both locally and globally.

  • Scope and limitation of the Study

            The researcher is aware of other problematic areas in the society such as corruption, kidnapping, terrorism among others which is confronting modern society. However, this study covers the use of children literature in inculcating morals in primary schools. The study is restricted to selected primary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. However, the findings will be generalized to other parts of the state and the country as a whole.

  • Contextual Definitions of Terms

The following terms are contextually defined based on how they are used in the course of the research:

Children: These are young people who are in their early stages in life. They are mostly primary-school-age children between the ages of 4 to 12 years.

Literature: This is a body of writing which is either purely fictional, partly fictional or purely non-fictional. It can also be referred to as an imaginative commentary on human society. Literature is a reflection of what is happening around the writer’s environment or society.

Children Literature: These are works of imagination that have children or animals as characters. The happenings in children’s literary works reflect the background of the young readers which also motivates them to read ahead.

Morals: These are values that are held in high esteem by society. Morals are behaviours that are upright before the immediate community and the society at large.

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  • Chapter 1 to 5
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