Picturebooks as disruptors in primary English education

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, sparking child agency and authentic action (Short, 2011). Picturebooks are thus well attuned to fostering intercultural learning goals (Morgado 2019) for children in primary English education (PEd). This vibrant potential can be harnessed by teachers when co-creating picturebook-based materials for the PEd classroom (Narančić Kovač, 2016).

Underpinned by critical pedagogy theories, this paper presents an analysis of teacher-created materials (ICEKits) developed around evocative picturebooks. These co-creations resulted from a professional development course as part of an Erasmus+ project, ‘Intercultural Citizenship Education through Picturebooks in early English Language Learning’ (ICEPELL). In this talk we answer the research question, ‘What makes a picturebook disruptive in PEd?’. Drawing on document and content analysis, our data comprise the selected picturebooks and their accompanying ICEKits as well as transcriptions of teachers presenting their materials to colleagues. The findings suggest that disrupting the picturebook canon in PEd can create a vibrant pedagogical space for intercultural citizenship themes. In turn, the hegemonic position of the English language coursebook is destabilised, thereby, ushering in an expanded notion of ‘culture’ in primary English classes. We conclude that pedagogical materials, with purposefully infused disquieting picturebook moments can disrupt children’s intercultural explorations. This benefits the development of teachers’ and children’s critical intercultural awareness, resulting from the opportunities to take action beyond the English classroom walls.

Period8 Sept 2022
Event titleInternational Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication : Diversity and epistemological plurality: Thinking interculturally otherwise
Event typeConference
Conference number12
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational