Environmental Landscapes in Children’s Literature

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Globalization makes living in a natural environment complex. At present, children are living as social cyborgs in places connected by technology that are more in common with other places rather than their own natural landscapes. The local place becomes a distant place. Consequently, lack of care for natural places often leads to a degraded habitat, loss of wilderness, alienation, and lack of connectedness. However, when children read place-specific texts and images from storybooks that locate characters in panoramic or close up shots of landscapes they become more environmentally connected in mind or in memory to hiking along mountain trails, camping in the forest, and canoeing or fishing on a lake. These images of landscapes are not just any place; these are specifically Canadian places. Embedded in the images are messages that promote social and ecological caring. In work with urban children’s participatory reading adventures, the researchers highlight how place-specific storybooks become a springboard for classroom dialogue as children identify with the images envisioned through art, photo-voice or poetry and the interests behind their creation. Envisioning images positions children aesthetically and efferently (aligning their ideas, attitudes, and experiences) to be socially aware, reflective, and transformational. Although images create a place that the children know but have never been, place becomes clearer through their eidetic memory and the vibrancy of the details. As children read, they build an awareness of the natural environments in contrast to the built environments of the malls or the video game playgrounds. Thus, learning from the local provides children with the opportunity to create long-term identity with and respect for places where they live. These engagements with place-specific images and text bridge the interconnections between story and care for the ecology.


Keywords: Place-Based Illustrations for Story, Care for Ecology, Visual Literacy
Stream: Literacy, Language, Multiliteracies; Languages Education and Second Language Learning
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Linda Wason-Ellam

Professor, Curriculum Studies, University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Linda Wason-Ellam is a professor-researcher who uses ethnography to explicate the social-cultural worlds of cross-cultural children on their pathways to reading and viewing multimodal and hybrid literacies.

Dr. Peter Purdue

Professor, Art and Art History, University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Peter Purdue is actively involved in community art programs, including art instruction for pre-school and school age children. In these programs students learn how societies and cultures construct and record their history, values, beliefs, and individual or collective visions. Based in Friere’s pedagogical principles, community art can be a catalyst of change as students study art from their own perspective.

Ref: L09P0752