Emerging bilingual readers' responses to metafictive picturebooks: A cognitive exploration of multiliteracies

Dey, Soumi (2019) Emerging bilingual readers' responses to metafictive picturebooks: A cognitive exploration of multiliteracies. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The current global trends in migration and transnationalism mean societies around the world are increasingly becoming culturally, ethnically and racially mixed. In such a world there ought to be changes to educational policy, curricula and school practices to reflect the linguistic and cultural diversity of students. There is an urgent need for people to understand and empathise with one another and to overcome the many cultural differences that act as barriers to community and communication. It is gratifying, therefore, to see varied and inclusive pedagogic practices being used to equip young learners with the skills to bridge cultural gaps. One such resource is children’s literature, and in recent years educators have been using picturebooks, ‘a species of children’s literature’ (Kümmerling-Meibauer and Meibauer 2013, p 1), to address prominent issues of diverse experiences and global realities (Hope 2008; Rutter 2006). A number of recent studies have shown that using picturebooks enhances a range of skills, including language acquisition, visual literacy and cultural acclimatization (e.g., Arizpe et al. 2014; Bland 2013; McGilp 2014; Mourão 2012; Sipe 2008). These studies have used a range of theoretical frameworks to investigate the meaning-making processes of young readers.
Located in this sociocultural milieu and in new directions in academic thought and pedagogic practices, this doctoral study investigates children’s visual, emotional and critical literacy from a multimodal and cognitive-literary perspective. The ‘mirror, windows and doors’ metaphor which argues that readers see reflections of themselves in what they read, look through windows into unfamiliar worlds and people, and finally step through new doors when they undergo a transformation in their understanding (Sims Bishop 1990) is a crucial understanding of literature that underpins this study. The overall hypothesis of the study is that appreciating the thoughts and feelings of characters in picturebooks can help hone emotional literacy skills in young readers, which in turn might facilitate a better understanding of real-life people. For my study I chose metafictive picturebooks, which are known to jar the readers into a sense of literary alertness and interactivity (Sipe & McGuire 2008). The inquiry involved longitudinal fieldwork with primary school-aged bilingual children, engaging in a variety of verbal and visual response tasks that focused on literary engagement with the texts.
The results showed the children engaging deeply with the characters’ mental states, responding analytically to the visual and verbal synergy (Sipe 1998) and using their Theory of Mind to demonstrate identification with the textual characters. The affordances of the metafictive nature of the texts allowed a critical-questioning stance in the young readers, making them aware of their own responses of the texts, developing their emotional literacy and metacognitive skills.
By highlighting the sophisticated natures of the young children’s responses and their ability to negotiate complex constructions in seemingly playful picturebooks, this study underscores the need for slow, careful and repeated looking and investigating texts as pieces of intriguing puzzles. Reading metafiction becomes an ‘embodied’ activity (Nikolajeva 2014b) where readers see, think, and feel, and simultaneously become aware of their own somatic responses. This ultimately develops emotional literacy as well as critical literacy skills. The study submits that careful and continued nurturing within and outside the school environment can make it possible for children to become aware of their own emotions, show increased awareness of others in interactions, as well as develop the potential to empathise and identify with people from backgrounds different to their own.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Picturebooks, metafiction, metafictive, bilingual, bilingualism, reader response, Emily Gravett, multiliteracy, multimodal, emotions, emotional literacy, empathy, cognitive, cognitive criticism
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Creativity Culture and Faith
Supervisor's Name: Arizpe, Prof. Evelyn and McAdam, Dr. Julie
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Dr Soumi Dey
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-81289
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2020 15:37
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2020 15:41
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81289

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