n Mousaion - Towards a vocabulary for visual analysis : using picture books to develop visual literacy with pre-service teachers

Volume 32, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



This article brings together the connectedness between words and images. It discusses the increasing impact of semiotics in the field of children's literature as well as the way children are thinking and living in the 21st century. The present literacy landscape demands that teachers understand multimodal texts and are able to interpret and teach these texts. A central aim of psychology and education is to develop an understanding of how children learn and how to present teaching materials in ways to help children learn. Using visual material does not mean that all visually composed teaching materials will necessarily lead to understanding. Visual literacy skills must be taught, especially in diverse environments where every child brings to the class his/her own cultural experiences. Using picture books with diverse beginner readers needs clear and specific principles to be able to critically interpret the interaction between text and images. The article explores the integration of text and images through Preller's picture book (2000), illustrated by Andries and Erica Maritz. To explore visual literacy skills, Lohr's (2008) principles, actions and tools (PAT) design framework will be used to analyse the picture book in order to understand the visual sign system and how the visual and the written text interact to create meaning. This knowledge will enable pre-service teachers and in-service teachers to build a vocabulary for visual analysis and to develop critical reading skills, 'which is essential for any sort of critical thinking in the 21st century' (Burmark 2002:v).

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