Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Having Their Say: Engaging with Contemporary Picture Books at Work and at Play

Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Having Their Say: Engaging with Contemporary Picture Books at Work and at Play

Article excerpt


Can picture books offer something of value to readers who might otherwise encounter difficulties with texts not published in their home language? It is suggested in this article that picture books, particularly those which engage readers with different kinds of metafictive devices, can encourage them to respond in their additional language, where more conventional texts in the additional language might be less effective. Critical attention has fallen increasingly on works containing "postmodern" or "metafictive" characteristics, as authors and illustrators appear to extend traditional boundaries of both content and format. Readers are frequently drawn into "games" by texts that abound in verbal and pictorial wit. Examples of such texts are discussed in the first section.

It is proposed that student teachers can benefit from exposure to high-quality picture books, both through expanding their own language horizons and through discovering a rich learning resource for the classroom. Novel and unusual features appearing in some of the texts should have the potential to elicit responses from readers who might normally feel diffident about expressing their opinions on what they are reading. This is borne out to some extent by the responses of EFAL firstyear BEd students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), South Africa, to selections of picture books, including some with metafictive features. There is also evidence that some of the above respondents perceived a link between their own responses and how they might use such resources in their own classrooms.


Het prenteboeke, selfs die wat in die leser se addisionele taal gepubliseer word, die potensiaal om lesers uit te Iok en aan te moedig om hulle reaksies op die inhoud en formaat van die boeke in hul addisionele taal uit te spreek? In hierdie artikel word die moontlikheid ondersoek dat prenteboeke, veral die wat verskeie "postmoderne" eienskappe openbaar, sodanige potensiaal wel kan ontlok. Prenteboeke, veral die wat as "postmodern" beskryf kan word, word al hoe meer 'n fokuspunt vir kritiese aandag. Hierdie soort prenteboek, wat tipies die tradisionele grense van prenteboeke oorskry, toon die kapasiteit om die leser op 'n besondere wyse te betrek. Enkele voorbeelde daarvan word in die eerste deel van hierdie artikel bespreek.

Bo en behalwe die potensiaal van prenteboeke as leermiddel in die klaskamer, kan hierdie tipe boeke ook opvoedkundestudente se eie taalhorisonne verbreed. Die buitengewone inhoud en formaat van "metafiksionele" werke kan lesers wel aan spoor om hulle menings te lug oor wat hulle lees, waar hulle normaalweg effens huiwerig sou gewees het. Hierdie aanname is in 'n sekere mate bevestig deur die reaksie van groepe eerstejaarstudente aan die Nelson Mandela Metropolitaanse Universiteit (NMMU), Suid-Afrika, op 'n keur van prenteboeke - insluitend sommiges met metafiktiewe kenmerke. Sommige van die studente het ook aangedui dat hulle wel 'n verband raakgesien het tussen hul eie response en moontlike strategiee om prenteboeke as leerbronne in die klaskamer te gebruik.


The purpose of this article is twofold: firstly to highlight key features in examples of contemporary picture books, and secondly to examine how some students, whose home language is not English, responded in English to selected examples of such picture books published in English. Closely related to this second point are possible implications of their responses for their own classroom practice.

The picture book genre includes texts in which pictures serve merely to illustrate what is conveyed by words, ones in which words and pictures are in a dynamic relationship with each other, and the kind that contains only pictures, such as Quentin Blake's Clown (1995). Lewis (2001: 74) maintains that the picture book, rather than constituting a fixed genre, "is an omnivorous creature, ingesting, absorbing, co-opting pre-existent genres - other ways of speaking, writing, picturing - in order to make its texts". …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.