This free course, Exploring books for children: words and pictures, has shown that images in children’s books are not the simple, childish, unchallenging things that they are often taken to be. Readers make sense of them by drawing on complex cultural knowledge. Many analysts of children’s illustration point to the sophistication and artistry of the images themselves and also to the array of different ways in which images combine with words to tell stories. In many cases, images and the material design of children’s books are not merely incidental illustrations, they are fundamental to the unfolding of the narrative. They also play a key role in the marketing of children’s books to particular groups of readers. Opinions differ as to the merit of detailed academic analysis of the imagery of children’s books, but this course has offered some ways of exploring pictures in depth to see how they work and what they can add to a story. Two author illustrators who you have learned about in this course agree that a good children’s book is one which child readers and their carers return to again and again and get something new each time. We hope that this free course has inspired you to return to the words and pictures in children’s books that you know, and to look at them with fresh eyes.
You might also like to look at the following items available on OpenLearn:
This free course is an adapted extract from the Open University course EA300 Children’s literature .