Pic­ture­books – a read­ing ‘mech­a­nism’

The New Age (Gauteng) - - WESTERN CAPE NEWS - VIN­CENT CRUYWAGEN vin­centc@the­newage.co.za

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.”

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