The Picture in the Picture Book – Its History and Pedagogical Significance in a Transnational Perspective

Berlin, May 7, 2021

The 4th workshop of the series "PICTURA paedagogica: Pedagogical knowledge in pictures" is dedicated to picture book illustrations. The aim is to examine the illustrations, designed for children in these special books, in terms of their history, their characteristic forms and their transformation, as a medium for imparting knowledge and – ultimately – in terms of their significance for the formation of literacy, i.e. their ability to understand the world and its representations.

Today, picture books are regarded as central to the development of children's ability to understand the world and to make it accessible. As the first books to be read and explained to them, they introduce children to the world and its cultural representations. At the same time, in a historical perspective, their distribution and use is not equally distributed among all social groups and not everyone uses them; for example, results of the study published in October 2020 by Stiftung Lesen (=Reading Foundation), show that 32 % of parents in Germany hardly ever read to their children at all. At first glance, pictures in particular, and thus picture books, appear to be less culturally localized and less strongly bound to language – but there is much to indicate that this is simply not true in a historical and transnational perspective.

The first – mostly religious – book illustrations were found in Europe and North America, mainly in Bibles or devotional literature. The famous “Orbis sensualium pictus” first published in 1658 by the Czech Johann Amos Comenius was the beginning of the illustrated children's picture book, and many children's picture books that followed were based on this book, even in different national and cultural contexts. "A Little Pretty Pocket-Book" by John Newbery from 1744 is regarded as the earliest illustrated English storybook for children. At the end of the 18th century Friedrich Justin Bertuch began publishing his “Bilderbuch[s] für Kinder”. It was written in many different languages and was published in different places. In it, he not only described the picture book as "indispensable" for the upbringing of children, but also pointed out that the child's eye was still in the process of developing and that the illustrations should take this into account.



Pedagogical image knowledge in historical children’s books. A genre comparison with computer vision algorithms
Chan Jong Im, Thomas Mandl, Wiebke Helm and Sebastian Schmideler

Implicit bias in children’s book illustrations
Vanessa Joosen, Thomas Smits

Confronting youth with the realities of human atrocities: Illustrations of slavery and slave ships in children's picture books (1794 –1807)
Jürgen Overhoff and Sebastian Lange

The math textbook: Mozambique first picture book
Sónia Vaz Borges

Fairy tales
Jens Bennedsen

Willem Gerrit van de Hulst (1879–1963)
Jacques Dane

Dark and monochrome picture book illustrations
Annika Berndtsen

Closing discussion


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