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11 — Visual literacy

The cover 'Guji Guji', which consists of a duck reading a book to some younger ducks and a young crocodile

Above: Cover of Guji-Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen, Gecko Press, Wellington, 2006 reproduced with permission of Gecko Press, Illustration © Chih-Yuan, 2003

So far we have focused on the written language of Guji-Guji, but a picture book, by its very nature, is so much more. In this sequence we will undertake a close examination of how pictures and text work together to make meaning. The Analysis of image and text in Guji-Guji provides background information. This will support you in devising questions that help the students in their reading and understanding of the story. It is a useful model that can be adapted to analyse other picture books.

Teacher resources

Introduction

The students sort a selection of images according to the type of text they come from: an informative text or an imaginative text. Ensure they are familiar with these terms and their meanings; do not assume that they are.

Discuss and record the images on a chart for display (hard copy or digitally). Some possible responses are given in the table below.

Images in factual texts are often: Images in fiction are often:

photographs

imaginative; not realistic

realistic drawings

make-believe characters

black-and-white line drawings

animals that can talk

diagrams

animals that wear clothes

charts

colourful

graphs

drawings made with pencil, pastel or crayon

labelled drawings or photos

painted

colourful but sometimes not

lino prints or woodblock prints

Explain that the students will now look closely at how illustrations are used in Guji-Guji.

Activity 1: Analysing a book cover and finding out about an author

Revise or teach the different elements and features of the cover, front and back of a book: title, illustrator, author, publisher, blurb, web address, reviews, picture and so on. The students can fill out a Book cover analysis worksheet (which could be used as the basis for comparison and study of other books).

The author/illustrator, Chih-Yuan Chen, is from Taiwan. Ask the class to find Taiwan on a map. Next, search for information about Chih-Yuan Chen on the internet (Wikipedia may be a good place to start). The students could highlight Taiwan on photocopies of a map of Asia and write a short report about Chih-Yuan Chen. This material could be made into posters for display in the classroom.

Activity 2: Thinking about the relationship between text and pictures

Read the story or play the audio from the Flash or YouTube version, without showing the illustrations, and lead a discussion about what the students like and dislike about not seeing the illustrations as they hear the story.

Read the story again, this time showing the illustrations, inviting comments and asking questions page by page. The focus is to encourage students to glean information from both text and image and to become aware of how images and text support each other, either:

(From de Silva Joyce and Gaudin, Words and Pictures.)

Examples of questions you might ask:

Continue questioning for other double-page spreads. Use the Book cover analysis worksheet to suggest questions and discussion points. ACELA1469

Activity 3: Thinking about colour and visual representations

We can discover a lot about the characters from the way they are illustrated and the colours that are used. Ask the students the following discussion questions:

The students can fill in the Character comparison worksheet that lists the characteristics of the three main creatures according to how their body features are represented. Use this worksheet as the basis for a discussion about what the author is trying to convey through these elements of his illustration. You can show the students a sample of a Completed character comparison worksheet to compare with their own worksheet. ACELT1591

Reflection

Ask the students to think about other picture books they have read. Ask them:

Have a selection of books available to prompt the students’ thinking. These books should be kept available for reading during independent reading sessions.

List some of the class’s favourite picture books and illustrators.