Picture book representations of refugee journeys: Communicating crisis to very young children

Unveiling the World Through Pages: exploring the impact of refugee-themed children's books on young minds

a drawing that has an open book with a bunny exiting from it

This lecture explores the emergent genre of young children’s picture books about refugee journeys. Such texts strike a careful balance between meaningfulness and ambiguity, to help young readers, and those who are reading with or to them, manage the emotive potential of these stories. This lecture analyses the use of features such as colour-coding, spatial positioning, depth and vectors, visual and textual metaphors, and unusual plots, to create different kinds of interaction between text and image, in the service of this complex meaning-making and ambiguity. The lecture will also reflect on the ideological and ethical implications of these texts as a form of what is known as ‘narratives for social justice’, and will consider psychological research on how effective they may be in developing young children’s awareness and understanding of refugees.

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Dr Andrea Macrae, Principal Lecturer in Student Experience and Stylistics at Oxford Brookes University