The Picture in the Picture Book

The Picture in the Picture Book

Its History and Pedagogical Significance in a Transnational Perspective

4th digital Workshop "PICTURA paedagogica: Educational Knowledge in Images"

Convenors: Stefanie Kollmann, Lars Müller und Sabine Reh

Date: May 7, 2021

Please register by April 30, 2021. 
There is no admission fee but the number of participants is limited.
Contact: Stefanie Kollmann | mail: | phone: +49(0)30.293360-637

The 4th workshop of the series "PICTURA paedagogica: Pedagogical knowledge in pictures" is dedicated to picture book illustrations. The aim is to examine these illustrations, designed for children in 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 population groups and not everyone uses them; for example, results of the study published in October 2020 by the "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 localised 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" 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 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.





Chan Jong Im, Thomas Mandl,
Wiebke Helm, Sebastian Schmideler
Pedagogical Image Knowledge in Historical Children’s Books
A Genre Comparison with Computer Vision Algorithms


Vanessa Joosen, Thomas Smits
Implicit Bias in Children’s Book Illustrations


Jürgen Overhoff and Sebastian Lange
Confronting Youth with the Realities of Human Atrocities:
Illustrations of Slavery and Slave Ships in Children's Picture Books (1794-1807)


Sónia Vaz Borges
The Math Textbook: Mozambique first Picture Book


Jens Bennedsen
Historical Educational Visual Medias from the Collections at The Center for Danish Educational History


Jacques Dane
The Use of Pictures in the Works of the Dutch Children's Book Author W.G. van de Hulst


Annika Berndtsen
Dark and Monochrome Picture Book Illustrations


Closing discussion


Jens Bennedsen

Historical Educational Visual Medias from the Collections at The Center for Danish Educational History

This presentation provides a brief description of who we are and an introduction to one of Europe's oldest collections of educational wallcharts consisting of more than 16,000 wallcharts, of which approx. 11,000, and a number of visual books for the use of object lessons, have been digitized.

In addition to the production of educational wallcharts, which gained momentum from the middle of the 19th century, other visual media with focus on learning also spread but with smaller children as target group and to be used at home.

Examples of these are visual books for the use of object lesson, friezes for children and fairy tales on wallcharts.

In this presentation, I will show some examples of the different types of visual medias.

Jens Bennedsen, MLISc., is Special Consultant at the Center for Danish Educational History and is responsible for the historical educational collections and digitization of these.
The Centre for Danish Educational History aims to raise awareness of the importance of school history. It consists of physical collections as well as a digital platform for educational history. The platform explains and explores 400 years of educational history based on thorough academic research.
The project has emerged out of a collaboration between Aarhus University, The Royal Danish Library and the Ministry of Education.


Jacques Dane

The Use of Pictures in the Works of the Dutch Children's Book Author W.G. van de Hulst

All publications by the Protestant Christian children's book author W.G. van de Hulst (1879-1963) have illustrations. Whether it is a story for toddlers, a history method for primary education, a Bible story for children or a novel for children aged 10-14, all his books - of which over 11 million were sold - have pictures. Some of his ‘long sellers’ have even been re-illustrated - modernised - three times in order to appeal to a new audience. What role did illustrations play in his books? What did he himself think, as a Protestant headmaster who was ambivalent towards illustrations because of his Biblical tradition, of the pictures in his books? These two questions are used to discuss three genres in Van de Hulst's oeuvre: his storybooks for pre-school children, the books for history education and his children's Bibles.


Chanjong Im, Thomas Mandl - University Hildesheim
Wiebke Helm, Sebastian Schmideler - University Leipzig

Pedagogical Image Knowledge in historical children’s books A Genre Comparison with Computer Vision Algorithms

Today it’s hard to imagine children’s books without pictures. But that was not always the case.

In the course of the 19th century, pictures became increasingly popular. New reproduction processes in letterpress printing made industrial mass production possible, as well as the printing of illustrations within the text. This led to an increase in the total number of images as well as the number of illustrations per book. They also entered children’s literature and became one of its most defining features. Today, illustrations in books for children are an important venue for us to study educational knowledge and its representation in historical
perspective. Powerful computer vision algorithms open new possibilities for the analysis of a large number of images.

In this study, we investigate whether object recognition with computer systems can provide empirical evidence that different genres of children’s books, e.g., nonfiction, textbooks, picture books, poetry books and novels, carry different types of objects. In the past, we have observed differences between fiction and nonfiction genres for some object classes. Further analyses are now devoted to more detailed image objects such as the category person. In addition to gender and age, the arrangement of persons in relation to each other is of interest here, for example, in order to be able to make statements about teaching and learning settings (e.g., constellations of persons, pedagogical environment). With our paper we would like to show the potentials of an automated image analysis of children’s book illustrations, especially for questions of historical educational research.

The authors of this submission are apl. Prof. Dr. Thomas Mandl and Chanjong Im, M.A., from the Institute for Information Science and Language Technology at the University of Hildesheim and Dr. Sebastian Schmideler and Wiebke Helm, M.A., from the Institute for Pedagogy and Didactics in Elementary and Primary Education at the University of Leipzig. They are all researching together in the “The Development of Iconography in Nonfiction for Children and Adolescents of the Nineteenth Century. A Distant Viewing Model”, an interdisciplinary DH project funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung from 2017 to 2020.



Jürgen Overhoff and Sebastian Lange

Confronting Youth with the Realities of Human Atrocities: Illustrations of Slavery and Slave Ships in Children's Picture Books (1794-1807)

The relations (or interferences) between text and images that cultural studies have recently focused on have as of yet, at least for the most part, evaded the visual history of Enlightenment Studies. It is, hence, pictorial media’s inspiration of the Enlightenment movement that we would like to discuss in this contribution – all the more since children’s picture books became a prominent part of the educational philosophy of enlightenment pedagogy in the second half of the eighteenth century. Prominent examples such as Johann Bernhard Basedow’s richly illustrated “Elementarwerk” of 1774 and Friedrich Justin Bertuch’s “Bilderbuch für Kinder” (1790-1830) were widely distributed in Germany and beyond. To a large extent, they shaped the consciousness and the world view of their youthful readers.

Both Basedow and Bertuch sought to combine the useful with the pleasant when they portrayed the world in sophisticated engravings or colourful plates that accompanied and explained their texts visually. They did not refrain from addressing disturbing issues. Representing the everyday life of eighteenth-century societies around the globe was not only meant to point to the happy parts of life, but also to highlight the negative and dark sides of human actions. Beginning in the 1790s, many children’s picture books began to contain illustrations with shocking representations of the realities of the slave trade. They laid out the desolate conditions on board slave ships before the eyes of children. Enlightenment educators felt that even the very young had to be confronted with human atrocities. Children needed to develop a strong sense of justice, and they were therefore invited to address injustice wherever it was found. The imagery of the slave trade and slave ships in late eighteenth century picture books influenced the representation of this topic for a long time.


  • Jasmin Schäfer: Das Bild als Erzieher: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowieckis Kinder- und Jugendbuchillustrationen in Johann Bernhard Basedows Elementarwerk und Christian Gotthilf Salzmanns Moralischem Elementarbuch. Frankfurt am Main 2013
  • Daniel Fulda (Ed.): Aufklärung fürs Auge. Ein anderer Blick auf das 18. Jahrhundert. Halle 2020.
  • Jürgen Overhoff: Beständiger Perspektivwechsel zu Schärfung des aufgeklärten Blicks: Basedow, Chodowiecki und die Bilderwelt des „Elementarwerk“ von 1774 [Forthcoming]

Contact details:
Jürgen Overhoff (
Sebastian Lange (



Sónia Vaz Borges

The Math Textbook: Mozambique First Picture Book

The Mozambique National Liberation Front – FRELIMO, was founded in the year of 1962, during the Conference that took place in Dar es Salaam. Like any other African nationalist movements, the FRELIMO was a result of against the colonialist Portuguese rule in territory. The source of unity between these three diasporic movements, was the colonial domination, exploitation and forced labor and many other aspects of colonial rule.

Shortly after FRELIMO approached various socialist countries including the GDR and asked for support in its anticolonial struggle, based on the GDR proclaimed support on the ongoing liberation struggles and support “for the liberation movements within a wider framework of anti-imperialist solidarity”.

The 1966 Eduardo Mondlane’s visit to the GDR in search of support for education from the Ministerium fur Volksbildung, marked the beginning of this partnership. Between 1967 and 1969 (and latter between 1972-1974), the German professor Joachim Kindler, and commissioner member from the Solidaritätkomitee, made is first travel to Tanzania as teacher to support the FRELIMO first education structure that was being built in refugee camps. As a math teacher in the Mozambique Institute, Kindler had his first contact with Portuguese textbooks (the only ones available), used in the class. Shocked by the derogatory way Africans were represented in these manuals, Kindler took the initiative to work on designing a math textbook for the first through fourth grade, while other colleagues focused on preparing the history and reading book.

The inexistence of picture books for Black Africans during colonial times, and the derogatory way that Africans were represented in Portuguese textbook, some of them used in the classroom as teaching material, Kindler’s and Minter’s math textbook, became in 1971, the first picture book for Black Africans where they were portrait in a dignified and emancipatory image. This textbook was distributed and used by other liberation movements in other territories occupied by Portuguese colonial rule. Such was the case of Angola by the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola) and in Guinea Bissau by the (PAIGC African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde)

This presentation, under the title “The math textbook: Mozambique first picture book”, has as goals first, to deepen understanding of the production process of the math textbooks produced by Joachim Kindler at his collaborators. Second, to study the distribution and circulation and use of these materials in various African territories during their liberation struggle process. Third, and through the analysis of the pictures and text of the math textbook, to present the power of this textbook, its illustration and content in the empowerment and emancipation of pupils in the definition of the self as Black and Africans, during the process of liberation struggle in Mozambique.

Short bibliography:

    • Carnoy, Martin; Samoff, Joel; Education and Social transition in the third world. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1990.
    • Kindler, J.; Minter, William.  Matemática 1. Classe. CONCP. GDR, 1971.
    • Voß, Matthias. “Gespräch mit Achim Kindler, der als Lehrer im Auftrag des Solidaritätskomitees der DDR als erster DDR-Bürger bei der FRELIMO arbeitete.” In Wir haben Spuren hinterlassen! Die DDR in Mosambik. Erlebnisse, Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse aus drei Jahrzehnten, edited by Matthias Voß, 34–46. Münster: LIT Verlag. 2005.

Sónia Vaz Borges (Dr.) is the author of the book Militant Education, Liberation Struggle; Consciousness: The PAIGC education in Guinea Bissau 1963-1978, (Peter Lang, 2019). She is currently a researcher at Humboldt University Berlin in the History of Education Department and is working on the project “Education for all” with a special focus on Mozambique and the FRELIMO liberation movement, and the Sandinistas revolution in Nicaragua.

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