Picture books have been evolving for centuries. While early texts such as John Comenius’ Orbis Pictus (1658) demonstrated the value of using illustration in children’s education, it was not until the 1930s that picture books in the form familiar to readers today appeared. By the 1960s picture books such as Maurice Sendak’s Where the wild things are (1963) demonstrated how the genre could break boundaries by exploring psychological dramas and experimenting with visual storytelling. It was also in the 1960s that graphic novels with their popular comic-style form were developing an adventurous approach to content and style. Contemporary picture books and graphic novels continue to explore new literary and artistic landscapes, inspire adaptations by filmmakers and to other media and increasingly to digital forms with the popularity of e-versions and apps.
Picture books and beyond examines a wide selection of picture books, graphics novels, films, e-picture books and apps that reflects the diversity of these evolving cultural artefacts, and their opportunities for education and delight. Picture books and beyond aligns closely with the goals and directions of the Australian Curriculum: English, and considers the potential of texts for enabling students to respond critically and creatively. It also highlights links to other curricula, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities.
This chapter briefly outlines some general trends and influences, histories,
and changes that have contributed to both the picture book and its digital
In anticipation of the commemorations around the centenary of World War 1 (2014-2018) this chapter examines the ways in which war and its effects have been represented in picture books for children. It looks at the ways in which these picture books create “textual monuments” as points of reference through which younger generations can “develop a narrative of the past” and “explore different points of view”.
This chapter considers how children’s picture books represent the contemporary environmental position of sustainability to socialise young readers into becoming environmentally aware adults, who appreciate the interconnectedness of natural systems, recognise that sustainability has local and global implications, and identify actions that support sustainable futures.The chapter directly aligns with the cross-curriculum priority (sustainability) and suggests ways for engaging with texts in the classroom that draw on the general capabilities of critical and creative thinking.
There is a common belief that science is about objective facts while literature expresses subjective opinions and emotions. Increasingly the gap between science and literature is becoming smaller as artistic imagination and scientific inquiry enjoy unprecedented attention in the publishing world and in the media. Picture books that engage with science offer children and teachers ways of understanding science differently. This chapter will use a number of picture books to illustrate how texts for children are opening up artistic ways for developing science understanding in content areas and encouraging general capabilities with respect to information and communication technology, critical and creative thinking, and possibly numeracy. It will also demonstrate the many common features that science and literature share such as communicating curiosity, passion and awe to inspire and instruct young readers about scientific discoveries and the wonders of the world in which they live.
Looking at a range of picture books involving the Middle Ages, this chapter considers their possibilities for 'personal and social capability', showing how fantasy addresses real-life questions by providing readers with critical distance which enables them to approach contentious or 'difficult' ideas. Because the Middle Ages constitutes a fantasy world to young readers, picture books set in medieval times readily address contemporary topics such as relations between people of different ethnicities. Through the use of humour, visual and verbal interaction and intertextual references, these picture books create light-hearted and engaging narratives with clear relevance to the lives of young readers.
Reading children’s literature is often considered important for developing readers’ empathy towards others. Picture books that thematise cultural diversity and issues of cultural difference often affirm positive models of cultural harmony and tolerance, thereby providing young readers with exemplars of human rights and social justice. Since 2000, many picture books have responded to Australia’s changing policy regarding immigration, especially the impact on refugees and asylum seekers. This chapter will discuss how picture books targeted for primary aged children engage with the subjective experience of migration and encourage readers to take up an empathic position with regard to the plight of others as represented in the texts. Picture books discussed in this chapter will include recent examples that deal with Asian-Australian relations, refugees, and asylum seekers. The chapter will have direct relevance to the cross-curriculum priority ‘Asia and Australia's Engagement with Asia’, and will include the general capabilities: ethical understanding and intercultural understanding.
Today’s children frequently experience multiple versions of literary narratives as more and more picture books appear also as animated movies and i-pad/tablet apps. In some cases the animated versions are very different from the books but in other cases the language and the visual character representations maintain the essential features of the book versions. Works such as these afford the opportunity to appreciate how quite subtle changes in depiction from static to moving image can effect significant shifts in the interpretive possibilities. This kind of interpretive context is addressed directly in the Australian Curriculum: English, which indicates, for example, that year four and five students should be examining variation in visual point view and its impact on audiences. This chapter firstly examines the knowledge about the meaning-making resources of still and moving images that is necessary to negotiate these kinds of curriculum expectations. This is illustrated through a comparative analysis of corresponding segments of three well-known picture books.
This chapter explores adaptations of three recent Australian picture books for tablet technology, attending to the effects of interactivity and digital affordances on narrative coherence and meaning. In this chapter, Hateley examines three e-texts which seek to adapt the experience of a printed picture book to a digital environment but which do so with varying levels of exploitation of digital affordances. Reading e-book and app versions of recent picture books highlights the opportunities and constraints offered by such texts in contemporary reading cultures: inside the classroom and beyond.
Graphic novels, also referred to as graphic narratives, sequential art narratives, or substantial comics, are gaining recognition as a valuable format through which to deliver fictional and non-fictional texts. In the process of exciting young readers and cultivating cognitive and creative communication skills for the future, graphic novels offer a format that is compelling, challenging, and rich in the visual and lexical grammars required by 21st century readers and communicators. This chapter considers why and how graphic novels should be integrated into primary classrooms. It will draw upon academic research that acknowledges the significance of this medium of expression.