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ESH151 Children's Literature AT2
Transcript of ESH151 Children's Literature AT2
Critical literacy is prevalent throughout The Very Cranky Bear. Critical literacy is the examination, analysis and evaluation of a text (Winch et al., 2010). From the very beginning of the text the zebra, lion and moose are portrayed as popular, whereas the sheep is portrayed as plain and boring. This is represented through both the language and visual elements in the text. The bear is portrayed as cranky and mean, and the zebra, lion and moose in their pride believe that they know how to change the bear’s attitude by giving him the physical attributes they possess (stripes, antlers and a mane). In the end the sheep has the unselfish solution sacrificing part of herself to make the bear comfortable. The moral of the story is that even if people do see you as plain and boring, that you are valuable in your own unique way and that physical appearances are not the answer to happiness.
The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland is an enthralling literary text suitable for students in kinder to year two.
The language features identified are alliteration, rhyme, repetition and prediction.
Alliteration is present throughout the story, more obviously at the beginning with the opening sentence, “In the Jingle Jangle Jungle on a cold and rainy day, four little friends found a perfect place to play,” (Bland, 2008, p. 1). Alliteration, according to LeFebvre (2004) sooths, entertains and enables the reader to have an optimistic attitude towards reading.
Rhyme is also present in the text, for example, “…rainy day…place to play,” and “golden main… sheep was plain…” (Bland, 2008, p. 1). Rhyme is an important language feature as it enables students to learn at a faster rate, especially from an early age. Rhyme and alliteration work together to assist students in gaining the literacy skills necessary for their subsequent schooling years (LeFebvre, 2004).
Repetition is seen throughout the story as Bland (2008) repeats the phrase “In the Jingle Jangle Jungle.” Repetition allows for prediction, and prediction, according to Tompkins (2010), guides the individuals thinking and keeps them guessing about what may happen next.
The visual elements in The Very Cranky Bear are extremely expressive and take up almost all of the pages throughout the book. Visual literacy as defined by Johnston (2000, as cited in Winch et al., 2010) is “more than the ability to decode images… it is the ability to analyse the power of the image and the how of its meaning in its particular context,” (p. 620). The images are not confined by borders, representing freedom (Winch et al., 2010). The zebra, lion and moose throughout the book are represented as closer friends than the sheep; the visual literacy portrays this by placing the sheep in a shadow, when the zebra, lion and moose are in the light playing and having fun (p. 1 & 2). The sheep has a shy facial expression whereas the other three animals have happy facial expressions. The bear is portrayed as big and domineering compared to all of the animals, producing a sense of fear. The reader can identify the different emotional statuses of the animals by observing the visual elements, enabling the reader to remain entertained.
From reading this story, one activity for a grade one class would be to observe the visual literacy in the text and discuss the various emotions of the characters. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (n.d.) explains how students in years one should “discuss how authors create characters using language and images,” (ACELT1581). This task helps build reading, listening, speaking, and critical and creative thinking skills.
Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne is suitable for students in grades 3 to 6.
Voices in the Park contains many visual elements. Charles’ mother is portrayed as a domineering character, having complete control over her son. Many of the images are in a frame, representing barriers and confinement, especially the images of the mother and Charles. The facial expressions of the mother portray a high class woman who looks down on those ‘inferior’ to her. The visual literacy surrounding Smudge and her dad represent a low socioeconomic class, the opposite of Charles and his mother. Visual literacy is the “…making of meaning out of images…” (Winch et al., 2010, p. 620). Charles is represented as being sad and alone, and always in the shadow of his mother. Smudge is represented as care free, and happy. An interesting aspect is the use of symbolism throughout the text. The seasons change depending on who is being represented. On page 16, Smudge and Charles are sitting together, however the background in the image where Smudge is, is sunny and bright, whereas the background in the image where Charles is sitting is glum, cloudy and cold. This represents the emotions of each character. Throughout the story both Charles’s dog and Smudge’s dog are carefree, playing with each other. This represents the freedom they feel, oblivious that their owners are from different classes of society.
Voices in the Park has many hidden messages. According to Mulhern and Gunding (2011), “critical literacy skills are necessary for students to become truly literate in the 21st century.” The story is told by the perspectives of four different characters, mother and son, and father and daughter. The critical literacy in Voices in the Park is obvious, especially through the representation of the visual elements in the text. Charles and his mother are from a higher class, ‘snobby’ part of town, whereas Smudge and her dad are not. Charles’ mother appears controlling and judgemental and Charles is lonely and deprived of enjoyment. On the other hand Smudge is happy and carefree, and has a good relationship with her father. I believe that Browne is portraying the fact that money does not make you happy, and that sometimes the small things are what truly makes one enjoy life. It does not matter what part of town you are from, everyone is the same and should be treated as equals.
In a teaching situation, a teacher could use this book to enable analysis and examination of the different perspectives of characters in the text with their grade 5 class. ACARA explains how students should be able to “recognise that ideas in literary texts can be conveyed from different viewpoints, which can lead to different kinds of interpretations and responses,” (n.d., ACELT1610). This helps build reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, and the general capabilities of literacy, critical and creative thinking skills, personal and social capability, and the cross-curricula capability, sustainability.
The language features identified include first person and adjectives. The story is told through the perspectives of the four characters in the text. First person allows for each ‘voice’ to express their point of view about what is happening in the story, enabling the reader to understand them. Adjectives are important in texts as they describe emotions and attitudes of characters (Knapp & Watkins, 2005). An example of this is when Charles’ mother talks about her “pedigree Labrador” and then Charles’, giving her dog more importance than her son by using the adjective pedigree and mentioning her Labrador before Charles (p. 1).
The language features presented in The Island by Armin Greder include, second person and past tense. The story is written from the perspective of one of the island people. Writing in second person is persuasive and can appear forceful (NSW Public Schools, 2013). The Island is a confronting book; therefore writing in second person is effective for the purpose of the story. The character is telling a story that has happened in the past, therefore talking in past tense, for example, “He wasn’t like them,” (p. 1). Past tense gives the reader a sense of conclusion to a story, something that happened long ago and is a “completed process,” (University of Washington, n.d.).
(Western Primary School, n.d.)
The Island is suitable for students in years 6 to 8.
The visual elements in this text are confronting. ‘The man’ is portrayed as weak and starved compared to the people of the island. He is nude and bald, and looks small and insignificant compared to the large, well fed men and women of the island. One image, on page 2 of the text, where the man is first introduced depicts a small man in front of a white background, representing weakness, isolation, emptiness and loneliness (Winch et al., 2010). The man occupies approximately one third of the page, whereas the people of the island occupy nearly the whole page; representing difference, intimidation and aggression. Many of the images are enclosed in a small frame (p. 9 & 10). These images are of the people on the island, and to me this represents closeness and relationship – they do not like change. Winch et al. (2010) explains how lines can represent “containment, barrier, enclosure, exclusion, connection, relationship,” (p. 623).
The Island is an extremely confronting story that causes the reader to ponder about worldwide issues. I believe that this story represents Asylum seekers/boat people and that people do not always accept ‘difference.’ Greder, in my opinion, is conveying that people can judge others before getting to know them based on visual appearance. The fisherman is the only character who wants to help the man, however because the majority of people disagree with him, the man is pushed out to sea and possibly dies. Greder is exposing the human tendency to fear and exclude those who appear different from ourselves.
Teaching Strategy :)
As a teaching strategy, a grade 8 teacher, could focus on the critical literacy of the story and base their lesson on difference and bullying. ACARA explains how students should “explore the ways that ideas and viewpoints in literary texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts may reflect or challenge the values of individuals and groups,” (n.d. ACELT1626). The Island is a valuable book that enables students to ponder issues that are prevalent in society and schools, and to develop a positive attitude and informed opinion about these issues.
By Emily Thorp 164631