In order to understand my target audience better, who are also the end consumer in this case, conducting the research is definitely necessary. I wish to focus in the area of how picture book interacts with children, especially in using simple geometrical shapes.
One of the useful information is derived from Children Reading Pictures: Interpreting Visual Texts. Using Kenneth Clark’s four phases of visual art appreciation, the authors Evelyn Arizpe and Morag Styles (2003, p. 43) emphasizes “the engagement between the see-er and the seen is the essential starting point.” The four phases of appreciation mentioned are: 1, having the general impression of the picture as a whole, such as shape, color, composition, etc.; 2, understanding or scrutiny; 3, recollection, which means making connections with the audience’s own experience; 4, renewal, more precisely to re-examine the visual art more deeply. Besides, the authors suggest that “some children drew on sophisticated repertoires of multi-modal reading and were familiar with literacy practices which centered on drawing meaning from texts; other inexperienced readers used what resources they had, making naive, instinctive responses to the books.” As such, the picture undoubtedly serves as a practical device to connect the children with the story.
However, the contents and level of complexity are crucial to children’s understanding. Fletcher and Reese (2005, p. 67) asserts that “a book that is too complex either in terms of language or content will not have as much potential benefit for the children’s language as one that is just above the childs current level.”
In terms of integration of text and visual, the picture book is deemed one of the best tools to convey the message to the children. Like Perry Nodelman (1988, p. 209) mentioned, “many picture books – indeed, possibly all of the best ones – do not reveal that pictures show us more than words can say; they achieve what Barthes called ‘unity on a higher level’ by making the difference between words and pictures a significant source of pleasure.” George Bomber (1992, p. 72) suggests the illustration in the picture book served to “expand, explain, interpret, or decorate a written text.” So to say, the picture book’s illustrations are effectively used for storytelling.
In terms of children’s interaction with picture books, Zhihui Fang (1996, p. 137) emphasizes three points: first, picture books direct the children to read and even interact with text; second, it is an effective tool to stimulate children’s creativity; and third, a support to understand written text. Children love to play games. Using a few picture books as examples, Fang (1996, p. 137) points out that some simple games in the picture books encourage the children to learn creatively and even easier, such as identifying the hidden object, making predictions before turning to the new page, and peeking through a die-cut hole. This somehow provides me useful information to interact with my target audience through the picture books’ finishings or games. Fang (1996, p. 138) also asserts that “children often associate pictures with their life experiences or familiar images, construct meaning based on their existing schemas or schemata.” The children always interpret the story, character and drawing with their own creative imaginations. Therefore, the simple shapes I’ll use shouldn’t merely represent the sea creatures, but also the interactive tool to communicate with the children.
Arizpe, Evelyn and Styles, Morag (2003) Children Reading Pictures: Interpreting Visual Texts. London: RoutledgeFalmer
Fletcher, Kathryn and Reese, Elaine (2005) ‘Picture Book Reading with Young Children: A Conceptual Framework’, Science Direct. 25, 64–103
Nodelman, Perry (1988) Words about Pictures: The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture Books. Georgia: University of Georgia Press
Bomber, George (1992) Teaching children’s literature: Issues, pedagogy, resources. NY: The Modern Language Association of America.
Zhihui Fang (1996) “Illustrations, Text, and the Child Reader: What are Pictures in Childrenfs Storybooks for?”, Reading Horizons. 37 (2), 130–142