Literature and Personal Growth: A Look to the Future

  • Jeneen Naji
  • Ganakumaran Subramaniam
  • Goodith WhiteEmail author


In this chapter, the authors describe how the study of literature can support personal growth but also how specifically it can encourage personal growth to meet future needs and challenges. Literature allows personal growth to happen incidentally and unconsciously through the pleasurable experience of reading or producing a variety of literary texts. However, personal growth through literature can also be a very focused and conscious activity if we target particular twenty-first century skills in the texts and tasks we choose. Through person-centred and needs-based approaches, literary texts can encourage students to think critically and creatively, be collaborative, solve problems, and employ multiple intelligences. Creation of one’s own literary texts can lead to self-discovery, self-understanding, and self-expression.


  1. Afrika, T. (1994). Nothing’s Changed. South Africa: Mayibuye.Google Scholar
  2. ATC21S. (2013). What Are 21st-Century Skills? Available at
  3. Banegas, D. (2010). The Role of Literature in ELT. London: British Council.Google Scholar
  4. Bassett, J. (2008). The Future of Humanities Education, or Ahab and His Humanities. Interdisciplinary Humanities, 25(1), 7–19.Google Scholar
  5. Boland, E. (2007). Atlantis—A Lost Sonnet. Available at
  6. Carter, R. A. (1988). The Integration of Language and Literature in the English Curriculum: A Narrative on Narratives. In S. Holden (Ed.), Language and Literature (pp. 3–9). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Clandfield, L. (2011). Teaching Material: Using Literature in the EFL/ESL Classroom. Available at
  8. Communication and Collaboration. (n.d.). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Available at
  9. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). A Systems Perspective on Creativity. In R. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of Creativity (pp. 313–335). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  11. Gorrie, E. (2007). It’s Change…. Available at
  12. Hanauer, D. I. (2012). Meaningful Literacy: Using Poetry in the Language Classroom. Language Teaching, 45(1), 105–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Iversen, S., Nielsen, H. S., & Alber, J. (Eds.). (2001). Why Study Literature? Aarhus N, DNK: Aarhus University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jerald, C. D. (2009). Defining a 21st Century Education. The Center for Public Education.Google Scholar
  15. Langer, J. A. (2012). Thinking and Doing Literature. Albany, NY: National Research Center on English Learning & Achievement, University at Albany, State University of New York.Google Scholar
  16. Mack, M. (2012). How Literature Changes the Way We Think. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  17. Maley, A., & Moulding, S. (1985). Poem into Poem. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Motschnig-Pitrik, R., & Santos, A. M. (2006). The Person Centered Approach to Teaching and Learning as Exemplified in a Course in Organizational Development. Zeitschrift für Hochschulentwicklung, 1(4), 5–30. Available at file:///Users/BlyseeChai/Downloads/117-1-449-1-10-20110120.pdf.Google Scholar
  19. Parkin, F. (2016). Poetry It Nice Feel Heart” – Learner Opinions On Poetry in the ESOL Classroom. Language Issues, 27(2), 64–72.Google Scholar
  20. Robinson, K. S. (2015). Aurora. New York, NY: Orbit Publication.Google Scholar
  21. Savvidou, C. (2004). An Integrated Approach to Teaching Literature in the EFL classroom. The Internet TESL Journal, 10(12). Available at
  22. Spiro, J. (2006). Storybuilding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Tate, C. (Ed.). (1985). Black Women Writers at Work. Harpenden: Oldcastle Books.Google Scholar
  24. Thakur, A., & Dave, M. (2016). Paradigms of Communication Skills in English Language and Literature. International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities, 4(3), 141–148. Available at
  25. Zafeiriadou, N. (2001). Literature in the EFL Classroom. TESOL Greece Newsletter. Available at
  26. Zafeiriadou, N. (2004). On Literature in the EFL Classroom. Available at

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeneen Naji
    • 1
  • Ganakumaran Subramaniam
    • 2
  • Goodith White
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Media StudiesNational University of Ireland, MaynoothMaynoothIreland
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of Nottingham Malaysia CampusSemenyihMalaysia
  3. 3.School of EducationUniversity of Nottingham Malaysia CampusSemenyihMalaysia

Personalised recommendations