Materials development in primary English education: Picturebooks for disrupting the commonplace

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Children’s literature can have a potentially catalysing effect in the classroom especially as picturebooks, a multimodal literary form, combine visual potency with challenging topics. When well-selected and skilfully mediated, the age-relevant disquieting moments in picturebooks and the interaction between the pictures and words afford opportunities for disruption, prompting child agency and authentic action (Short, 2011). Picturebooks are well attuned to fostering intercultural learning goals (Morgado 2019) for children in primary English education. This potential can be exploited by teachers when co-creating picturebook-based materials for the primary English classroom (Narančić Kovač, 2016).

Underpinned by critical pedagogy theories, this paper presents an analysis of teacher-created materials (ICEKits), which were developed and trialled during a professional development course, ‘Intercultural Citizenship Education through Picturebooks in early English Language Learning’ (ICEPELL). This presentation attempts to answer the research question, ‘What makes a picturebook disruptive in primary English education?’. Drawing on document and content analysis, the data comprise five selected picturebooks and their accompanying ICEKits, interviews with Portuguese primary English teachers, teachers’ written reflections and transcriptions of their dissemination presentations. The findings suggest that there are five different ways that picturebooks disrupt a) as sources of intercultural content; b) as springboards to reach wider educational goals; c) as spaces for multivocality; d) as vehicles for disquieting; and e) as a prompt for taking action. Implications highlight the importance of integrating picturebooks into primary English education to develop of teachers’ and children’s critical intercultural awareness, resulting from the opportunities to promote child agency and authentic action and move beyond the English classroom walls.
Period24 Sept 2023
Event titleSCRELE Biennial Conference: Developing, using and evaluating ELT Materials for young learners
Event typeConference
Conference number3
LocationShanghai, ChinaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational