Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Illustrated Storybooks for Preschool Children Published in Turkey between 1980-2013: A Study Based on Preschool Education Reforms

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Illustrated Storybooks for Preschool Children Published in Turkey between 1980-2013: A Study Based on Preschool Education Reforms

Article excerpt

Reading is one of mankind's most important cognitive activities. Interest in reading starts in childhood and develops with encouragement from adults who are close to the child (Lin, 2012). In general, picture books contain artistic images and topics dealing with life, education, emotions, imagination, creativity, and culture (Lin, 2012). A picture book is characterized by its narration of a story through the use of visual descriptions and words in equal proportions (Lynch-Brown, 1993).

Children's literature is an educational tool (Puurtinen, 1998). Children's books support the development of children's literacy skills and help them develop an understanding about the world and social norms. Children's books have a didactic structure, either explicit or implicit, the goal of which is to benefit the child. Children's books primarily help children to build reading skills and also aid them in comprehending what they have read (Puurtinen, 1998).

The purpose of this study was to examine the distribution of topics featured in illustrated storybooks that address preschool children in Turkey. The trends observed in children's books in Turkey have been examined from an educational perspective that includes preschool curriculum reforms in Turkey.

A Brief History of Children's Literature in Turkey

The matter of preparing books for children first became a subject of discussion between 1839 and 1876 during the Ottoman Era of Reforms (Öztürk Çelik, 1998). Prior to that, as in the rest of the world, there had been an abundance of rhymes, fairytales, legends, and epics. Also at this time, the humor of the Nasreddin Hodja stories appeared as an oral literature (Öztürk Çelik, 1998).

The language and narration in books about children, Hayriyye and Lütfiyye, which had been published before the 19th century in Turkey, were not at a level that children could understand (Öztürk Çelik, 1998; Sinar, 2006). The Era of Reforms saw the beginning of the translation of children's classics from around the world into Turkish. A concentration of diverse works in this domain was seen, however, in the era of the Second Constitutional Monarchy (1908-1923), while the real period of activity started with the acceptance of the new Turkish alphabet in 1928 in the Era of the Republic. The 1928-1935 period saw an onslaught of primers and reading books (Çikla, 2005; Öztürk Çelik, 1998).

After the 1930s, well-known Turkish poets and writers began to compose works for children. This trend increased even more in the 1950s. The competitions initiated by the Turkish Language Association, the Ministry of Culture, and Dogan Kardes Publications, as well as the children's literature contests organized in many fields between 1973-1974 by Arkin Publishers, invigorated the children's literary scene. It is a fact, however, that there has still yet to be an adequate number of quality books for preschool children. The Aysegül series of books, known in Belgium as Martine and as Debbie in the US, were translated in 1967 and continue to be known as the first example of an illustrated storybook published in Turkey (Öztürk Çelik, 1998).

The first native illustrated storybook for preschoolers in Turkey, Kirpi Masali (The Porcupine's Story) was written by the writer and illustrator, Can Göknil, in 1974 (Çikla, 2005; Öztürk Çelik, 1998). Later in 1979, the artist and author, Serpil Ural, published an illustrated storybook by the name of Top Tavsan (Ball Rabbit). With UNESCO's pronouncement of World Children's Day in 1979, publishing and activities in this area expanded with various publishing houses focusing on children's books. This has led to a greater number and a more enriched quality of published books (Öztürk Çelik, 1998; Sinar, 2006). Ultimately, preschool children's literature in Turkish has improved in both quality and quantity over the last 30 years, and the scientific research carried out on the subject of children's literature has begun to increase (Öztürk Çelik, 1998; Sinar, 2006). …

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