Picturebooks – a reading ‘mechanism’
DR ADRIE le Roux, who recently obtained her doctorate from Stellenbosch University (SU), said wordless picturebooks is an effective mechanism to help parents and children to read.
Le Roux developed picture books views which are expressed in the light of World Book and Copyright Day and celebrated on Sundays.
She obtained her doctorate in Visual Arts at SU focusing on the production of culturally relevant, and economically viable wordless picturebooks to encourage a love of reading in the home, regardless of the literacy levels of the parent.
She underlined that in South Africa people largely overlooked the potential of wordless picturebooks to help promote a culture of reading and to improve literacy, especially among parents and their pre-school children in poor communities.
“This is despite international studies which have shown that wordless picturebooks are an ideal tool to nurture a fondness for reading in adults and children as well as to promote literacy development at an early age.
“My research highlighted the potential of wordless picturebooks to improve the reading relationship between parents and children in poor communities and to help children read and understand what they read,” she said.
Part of her study included a four to six weeks reading and book creation project for 42 parents or primary caregivers and their children (three to six years) at three crèches in Mamelodi, Soshanguve and the Melutsi township in Gauteng.
She found that many people in these areas did not have money to buy books and many children were not exposed to books before they go to school.
Prior to the project, she held a workshop at the first two crèches where she and two facilitators from Nal’iBali, a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, collected the stories participants told about their everyday lives.
She used existing wordless picturebooks for reading and participants were asked to communicate their stories through drawing and writing.
“While the children were busy creating illustrations, their parents or primary caregivers would ask them questions and document these stories. The parents would then elaborate on what their children were saying and sometimes also added to the drawings to help describe the story,” Le Roux said.
“With wordless picturebooks, the children understood the book and story better and actively engaged in the ‘reading’ making the activity more meaningful.”