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Consultation on the Primary Curriculum now open

Consultation on the Primary Curriculum now open

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Why engage with literary texts?

Exploring literary texts is important for students. The development of language skills and the exploration of literary texts should be integrated in the classroom to aid language development and the development of critical and creative skills. Exploring literature supports the development of

  • language and literacy
  • critical and creative skills
  • cultural understandings
  • personal development.

A literary text is one which demonstrates the state or circumstances of an individual: a story which derives from emotions, life experience, memories, and the predicament of the human condition. It often demonstrates fantasy, legends, emotions, horror and revelations. Poetry, creative prose and creative film are associated with the heart and the mind,  with emotions and with the imagination. Poetry, prose and film must be presented in a way that will arouse interest and will stimulate the imagination and a desire to communicate in students.

Language and literacy

Literature is a source of both formal language and normal, everyday language. Literature is created for the language community and as such  is an example of authentic material in a wide  range of styles and language registers that can aid students in their language development. Literature is therefore an important resource/aid for learning, for literacy and for the development of language competencies*.

*Lazar, G. (1993) Literature and Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Critical and  creative skills

Literary texts foster opportunities for interaction, communication and meaningful discussion stimulating students’ imagination and thereby supporting the development of communicative, critical and creative skills. While we often imagine writing and literature going hand-in-hand, speaking about literature is much more natural. If one reads a book or watches a film or hears a song it is more likely that one will speak about it before one writes about it. People often have different understandings of, and views  on literary texts: not everyone finds the same meaning in a text. Through encountering literary texts, students have opportunities to enhance both their creative and critical thinking skills.

Cultural understandings

Literature provides cultural insights for students. Literary texts contain many explicit and implicit insights on native culture.

Personal development

Literature is an important resource for emotional development. Literary texts create opportunities for students to identify with characters and emotions revealed in the texts. This helps students learn about the nature of humanity and about their own life. This aligns with the emphasis placed on wellbeing in the junior cycle as a whole.  Each subject has a role to play in that area, including Irish. Literary texts (films, short stories, songs, plays, poems, novels, etc.) influence students’ ideas and emotions.

The selection of literary texts is very important; texts must be selected which students can relate to and with which they can be involved both emotionally and personally. The students’ role in the selection of texts is crucially important. Teachers will help students explore the possibilities so that they may select the most appropriate option.

The following will be provided to assist with this approach:

  • a recommended list of appropriate texts for first year
  • a list of compulsory genres with an internal choice of texts for second and third year. 

Students will select the texts in consultation with the teacher. Lists available on

The guidelines below will help when selecting texts.


First year

In first year, the foundation will be set for exploring literature in second and third year. Students will explore texts from a variety of genres: poetry/song, drama, short films, novels,  and short stories.  

At a minimum one text from each choice listed below should be explored in first year. A recommended list of texts is available.

  • poetry / songs
  • short stories
  • short film / drama
  • novels.

Particular emphasis will also be placed on the exploration of local literature/oral literature. A minimum of three pieces of local/oral literature should be explored in first year. Teachers and students have autonomy at local level to choose  the pieces which best suit their context, needs and interests.

Second and third years

Over the two-year period, students will choose texts from a list of possibilities, choosing a minimum of

  • one (complete) novel
  • one (complete) play
  • five poems/songs
  • at least two short stories
  • at least two short films.

Students will also explore five items of local/oral literature* and schools  (teachers and students) have autonomy to select the items to explore, as appropriate to their own  context, needs and interests.

*Texts not studied in first year.

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