This exhibition has been inspired by the PhD thesis of Kumarasinghe D. Mudiyanselage titled: The Role of Picture Books in Developing an Empathic Response towards Cultural Difference. While researching his thesis Kumara was an HDR student in the Faculty of Education at QUT. His supervisors were Professor Kerry Mallan and Associate Professor Karen Dooley.
While the possibility of moral persuasion through fiction has long been proposed, the study of the empathic potential of narratives is only now emerging as a major interest in the field of cognitive narratology and to a lesser degree in children’s literature studies. It was not until recently that academics paid much attention to cognitive aspects, such as empathy, in children’s picture books. Kumara investigated the use of narrative empathy in the fictional constructions of migrants’ experiences in Australian multicultural picture books. The study explored the ways in which picture book narratives attempt to engage readers to empathise with fictional ‘others’, in this case, voluntary migrants and forced migrants (refugees and asylum seekers), whose plights and predicaments are reimagined and narrated from different perspectives within a changing social and political landscape in Australia. In order to answer the research question: ‘How do contemporary Australian multicultural picture books draw on empathic narrative techniques to encourage readerly empathy towards cultural difference?’, this study used cognitive narratology, narrative empathy and semiotics to conduct the textual analysis of a selection of 16 migration-themed Australian picture books published from 1990 – 2014. The study found that a common strategy employed by the texts to encourage empathy was through reader positioning. Texts attempted subjective engagement of the reader with the plight of the migrant/refugee character by drawing on familiar scripts and schemas to affirm or disrupt ideas about migrants and cultural difference. The study also demonstrated how picture books furnish readers with accessible means to investigate the complex issues of migration. A desired outcome is that these texts promote children’s ethical understanding and intercultural understanding through imaginative interpretations of the migrant experience in picture book narratives.~
'Fang Fang is a young girl who migrated to Australia from China with her parents when she was little. Her desire to be as Australian as her classmates brings her into conflict with her mother, who is anxious that Fang Fang does not lose her cultural heritage. However, when Fang Fang's cousin Lily visits from China, Fang Fang is delighted to find that Lily speaks perfect English and is interested in the same music and singers.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.(...more)
Hyram and B are friends for ever. Discarded by their owners, Hyram and B have lived on the top shelf of the toy shop for longer than anyone. Then a little girl buys B bear and takes him home. Will the two friends find each other again?
This collaboration with author Brian Caswell is a gentle story about the power of friendship for those who understand the secret language of friendship.
(from the illustrator's website http://mattottley.com/product/hyram-and-b/)(...more)
'Mother and Father Koala are suspicious of the OTHER bears. They don't like the pandas and they don't trust the polars. The black bears are noisy and the brown bears have big teeth.
'But all their grumpiness melts away, watching the littlest bears at play.' (Source: publisher's website.)(...more)
'Cartwheel has moved to a place that is so strange to her that she no longer feels like herself. She creates a safe place under an old blanket, made out of memories and thoughts of home. As time goes on, Cartwheel begins to weave a new blanket, one of friendship and a renewed sense of belonging. It is different from the old blanket, but it is eventually just as warm and familiar. This story is for all who have experienced change. It is about learning new ways of speaking, new ways of living, new ways of being.(...more)
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