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In recent years, there has been growing interest nation wide among elementary teachers for using children's literature as the core of the reading program. A national survey (Cullinan, 1989) indicated that many states are involved in literature-based initiatives, and some states, led by California, have mandated the use of literature (Alexander, 1987). Therefore, many teachers are making the transition from highly structured commercial reading programs to literature programs that require extensive teacher decision-making regarding materials, grouping, instructional practices, and assessment. Concerns are now being raised in the profession about the nature and appropriateness of some literature-based programs' implementation (Gardner, 1988; Purves, 1990). For example, philosophical tension is growing between teaching reading with literature (suggesting a primarily literacy focus) and teaching literature (implying a stronger literary perspective). In fact, Purves (1990) bluntly pinpoints this conflict by asking whether literature can be "rescued from reading" (p.79).

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