Picturebooks and aesthetic literacy in early childhood education

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Chapter 4. - Campagnaro M. (2021) Picturebooks and aesthetic literacy in early childhood education. In Å.M. Ommundsen, G. Haaland & B. Kümmerling-Meibauer (Eds.), Exploring Challenging Picturebooks in Education. International Perspectives on Language and Literature Learning (pp. 79-98). Oxon/New York: Routledge. - In their everyday lives, children are immersed in a world of images. They grow up interacting with images and visual screens long before they learn to read. In toddlers, visual precedes verbal alphabetization. They learn to look at and recognize people, animals, and objects long before they learn to name them. What is more, their assiduous use of digital devices forges their way of looking at the world – a way in which the main route via which they receive information relies on images, certainly not words. If this awareness is combined with a literary, iconographic, aesthetic, and sociocultural expertise, this way of gaining knowledge in childhood can generate effective educational outcomes. Children’s literature can contribute to the training of this expertise, particularly as regards iconic narration and aesthetic sensitivity. Aesthetic sensitivity is “present when people begin to engage in sustained questioning about art, particularly in terms of different sorts of awareness regarding qualities of the objects being considered” (Rostankowski 1994: 117). A promising field in children’s literature research concerns the study of the nature and elements of aesthetic experiences in picturebooks. Which reading experiences are aesthetic and why? When do children have them? There is ample evidence that children have aesthetic experiences (Muelder Eaton 1994). Reading different kinds of picturebooks enables young readers to develop a sophisticated visual competence and aesthetic literacy, as shown by several recent studies (Arizpe and Style 2003; Beckett 2018; Campagnaro and Dallari 2013; Druker and Kümmerling-Meibauer 2015; Evans 2015; Kümmerling-Meibauer 2014). Seen from this point of view, picturebooks can be a relevant resource in the design of aesthetic education schemes, they can help to reflect upon aesthetic experiences, and they can be “instrumental in drawing students into more rewarding productive activity” (Muelder Eaton 1994: 20). The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate how a more articulate and critical relationship with aesthetics through picturebooks may foster a highly-formative educational experience and to present a working model that attempts to develop aesthetic literacy in early childhood. This chapter is divided into five parts. The first part deals with the topic of visual prejudice in education and some of the reasons why visual narratives are penalized at school. The second part describes a study, “Come and Meet Bruno Munari,” conducted at a nursery school with children from 27 to 39 months old. It focuses on the importance of promoting projects of aesthetic literacy right from early infancy, drawing on the materiality of books, and book-objects in particular. The third part presents an educational and methodological proposal that could prove useful for constructing pathways of aesthetic sensitivity with young readers. This involves using picturebooks that emphasize both the aesthetic and pleasurable experience of reading and the status of the picturebook as an aesthetic object. The fourth part discusses a case study on the picturebook Emilia Mirabilia (2016), intended for children ages 7 and 8, in which this approach is undertaken with more mature readers. Finally, the last part of the chapter underscores how important it is for teachers and educators to develop the expertise they need for fostering the aesthetic literacy of young children. Consequently, this chapter places an emphasis on the semantic complexity and the educational potential which can emerge from a reading of picturebooks and which is crucial in the literary, visual, and aesthetically-oriented sense. It can be compared to a unique constellation of textual and visual features “which can be described as a coherent pattern or gestalt, contributing, in the particular work of art, towards the overall artistic design or vision. This uniqueness is, so to speak, part of the logical makeup of the concept of an aesthetic feature” (Haugom Olsen 1981: 525).

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... Esto supone, el desarrollo de esa competencia en los futuros docentes, una formación didáctica que posibilite una enseñanza literaria provechosa, y el aprendizaje de una serie de criterios que orienten en la selección de lecturas en consonancia con el nivel de competencia literaria y estética del alumnado (Campagnaro, 2022). Consideramos que el libro-álbum, resulta un instrumento de gran utilidad para el desarrollo de la competencia literaria, además de servir específicamente para la mejora de la interpretación literaria, gracias a la lectura de imágenes (Arizpe y Styles, 2016; Batič y Haramija, 2015;Gardner y Herman, 2011;Hamer et al., 2017;Painter et al., 2012). ...
... Si bien ha presentado resultados positivos, profundizar en la multimodalidad es uno de los apartados que puede más contribuir a comprender de una manera más holística la producción artística y literaria actual. Este punto se relaciona directamente con la selección de álbumes ilustrados de calidad, y la importancia de una secuenciación que posibilite el desarrollo de la competencia literaria (Campagnaro, 2022). Puesto que la transmisión de valores positivos no es un aspecto que deba anteponerse a la calidad de la obra literaria, creemos que es preciso incorporar aún ciertos contenidos que refuercen la formación en orden de fortalecer la capacidad del alumnado, en su rol de mediador, de seleccionar álbumes ilustrados cuyo mensaje estético ayude en la formación literaria de los niños y niñas. ...
... Otro elemento esencial en la educación literaria desde las primeras edades se encuentra en el álbum-ilustrado (o libro-álbum) por su particular sinergia en la construcción de su discurso a partir de la materialidad del soporte, el texto y la imagen (Van der Linden, 2015). La creatividad en las diferentes propuestas existentes dentro del ecosistema editorial facilita la aproximación estéticoliteraria y el inicio al desarrollo del itinerario lector en la primera infancia (Nikolajeva, 2003;Ahrens, 2011;Sundmark, 2018;Campagnaro, 2022). Del mismo modo, Kümmerling-Meibauer y Meibauer (2015) señalaban la importancia de este tipo de libros en el desarrollo cognitivo y del lenguaje, así como de otras convenciones derivadas de su componente literario como la secuencialidad, el contraste o la construcción de imágenes mentales. ...
Given aesthetic literacies are in the curriculum it is important for teachers to know how to both teach and assess aesthetic literacies within their classrooms as already highlighted in this book very little is known about how, when, and why teachers need to teach aesthetic literacies. This chapter, therefore, explores ways in which teachers can consider how to teach and assess aesthetic literacies by providing several frameworks conceptualising this important work. Specific modes of meaning and their associated codes and conventions are provided as an appropriate metalanguage for the development of aesthetic literacies in classrooms. Students’ samples of work and a Multimodal Composing Analysis Tool (MCAT) is also shared.KeywordsCurriculumModes of meaningArt criticismAssessmentMetalanguage
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new ways of facing the world and its multiple realities. Picturebooks, as a crossover genre, help in the process of understanding new contexts while offering literature as therapy. The new challenges of the 21st century require the implementation of methodologies that focus both on words and on other modes of representation to construct knowledge, and to this end, literacy education through challenging picturebooks involves paying attention to the diverse pedagogical demands of a global, aesthetic, and multimodal world. This chapter supports the notion of visual literacy as a multidimensional concept and proposes the approach to different picturebooks dealing with neighbours and neighbourhoods through the pedagogy of the multiliteracies, in order to enhance the transformation of the self and the global and local understanding of the current world. A learning path for teachers is designed according to the four knowledge processes: experiencing, conceptualizing, analyzing, and applying.
Das gemeinsame Betrachten und dialogische Erkunden von Bilderbüchern etabliert eine literarische Praxis, die sich durch Multimodalität auszeichnet. Nach einer Orientierung zu frühen Erfahrungen mit Literalität und Literatur stellt der Beitrag grundlegende Strukturen dieser multimodalen Praxis vor und veranschaulicht sie exemplarisch anhand von Bilderbuchgesprächen in Familie und Kindergarten.
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