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Exploring books for children: words and pictures
Exploring books for children: words and pictures

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4.1 Appealing to different age groups

When browsing the children’s section of a book shop, most people would fairly quickly be able to identify the titles aimed at younger children. What is more, young children themselves will generally need no assistance in finding the books they like, long before they become readers in the conventional sense. So, what visual clues might readers be responding to that draw them to ‘age-appropriate’ fiction?

Activity 4

Have a look at the three book covers below (you can enlarge them by clicking on each image). Then answer the multiple choice questions about them.

a. 

0–4


b. 

5–8


c. 

9–12


d. 

teenagers


e. 

other


The correct answer is a.

Answer

The correct answer is 0–4.

a. 

boys


b. 

girls


c. 

both


The correct answer is c.

Answer

The correct answer is ‘both’.

a. 

0–4


b. 

5–8


c. 

9–12


d. 

teenagers


e. 

other


The correct answer is b.

Answer

The correct answer is 5–8.

a. 

boys


b. 

girls


c. 

both


The correct answer is c.

Answer

The correct answer is ‘both’.

a. 

0–4


b. 

5–8


c. 

9–12


d. 

teenagers


e. 

other


The correct answer is d.

Answer

The correct answer is ‘teenagers’.

a. 

boys


b. 

girls


c. 

both


The correct answer is c.

Answer

The correct answer is ‘both’.

Discussion

You may already be familiar with these books, or the titles may have contributed to your answers. But the visual look of the book also conveys much of the information about their intended readership, as well as other things, such as genre.

None of these books is aimed specifically at either boys or girls. They are, however, aimed at specific age groups. The first book is part of the Where’s Spot? series for very young children. This intended audience is reflected in the design of the cover, which consists of simple, clear illustrations, a plain font and bold use of colour.

The second book, Beware of the Storybook Wolves by Lauren Child, is a retelling of classic fairy tales but with a slight twist. It is probably aimed at 4–6 year olds. Although the design is not quite as simple as Where’s Spot?, the illustration is still colourful and cartoon-like, with a quirky font.

The third book, Red Shift by Alan Garner, is a rather dark narrative about three teenagers. The mood of the book is indicated by the enigmatic image of Mow Cop castle on the front cover. The colours in the design are not as vivid as those in the books for younger children. The choice of a photograph rather than an illustration also suggests an older intended readership.