Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsHere is a picturebook in which the two voices speak over each other in a jarring, or funny, or weird way. This is Haunted House, a famous pop-up picturebook by Jan Piekowski. Perhaps you read it as a child. We are introduced to the narrator – just a voice – on the first page.

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 secondsAs the story progresses, it’s clear – or is it? – that the narrator doesn’t realise that he’s introducing us to a very strange house indeed. When looking at such picturebooks, we pay particular attention to what we can expect child and adult readers to do when ‘filling the gaps’ between textual and visual narratives. We sometimes speak of that ‘gap’ – the space of story that the reader needs to figure out for themselves – as a mark of sophistication for a children’s picturebook. It does ignite the imagination a lot, and ask for, arguably, more and more advanced readerly skills.

What does that look like?

What kinds of literacy skills would you say such books encourage?

Now think back to the picturebooks you identified as your favourite earlier.

How would you characterise the word-pictures interactions in those picturebooks? Write your answers below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Pictures of Youth: An Introduction to Children’s Visual Culture

University of York