Illustrations in Children’s Literature: Commonplaces of Culture and Identity

By Linda Wason-Ellam and Peter Purdue.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Despite a largely global existence surrounded by technology and multimodal literacies, in many multicultural societies children grow up hearing place-based stories and viewing the illustrations that define their culture. Place-base storybooks tap into children’s knowing by locating characters and action in panoramic or close up shots of geographical landscapes. Over time, the literature and art blend together to crystallize an image that says, “This is who we are.” These shared stories and illustrations provide a commonplace with its values and beliefs, its goals and traditions that form a deeply rooted backdrop to culture and identity. A legacy of literature and art reflect an intimate relationship, even a sense of belonging with the land.

In this presentation, the researchers will discuss the textual interpretation of visual and written narratives in place-based picture storybooks (from Canada, USA, Australia, and New Zealand). They will highlight how learning from the local landscapes provides children with the opportunity to create long-term identity with and respect for places where they live. These engagements with place-specific images and text bridge the interconnections between story and a sense of care for the environment.

Keywords: Place-based Literature and Illustrations, Culture and Identity, Aboriginal, Canada

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.267-276. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 763.985KB).

Dr. Linda Wason-Ellam

Professor, Department of Curriculum Studies, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Dr. Linda Wason-Ellam is a professor-researcher who uses ethnography to explicate the social-cultural worlds of cross-cultural children in urban schools on their pathways to reading and viewing multimodal and hybrid literacies.

Dr. Peter Purdue

Professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Dr. Peter Purdue is actively involved in community art programs, including art instruction for urban pre-school and school age children. In these programs, students learn how societies and cultures construct and record their history, values, beliefs, and individual or collective visions. Based in Freire’s pedagogical principles, community art can be a catalyst of change as students study art from their own perspective.


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