‘This is my story’ as ‘An other’s story’: Picturebooks, theory of mind and empathy

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Using picturebooks in the young learner EFL classroom has become an accepted approach to diversifying activities and, due to the presence of both image and word and the ability to decode one or the other or both, picturebooks enable multileveled linguistic and cognitive responses from learners. Picturebooks take teachers and learners beyond mere language learning and contribute to developing learners’ cognitive, socio¬emotional and aesthetic competencies together with their language and literacy skills, especially when the pictures and words show and tell different information. Learners are expected to think about what they see and what they read (or hear read to them) and fill the gaps. This encourages a more active learner who has to decipher, make sense of and create personal meaning, on many occasions through talking together with others in class about what the picturebook reveals. Many picturebooks contain messages that enable children to develop their understanding of social situations and foster an understanding of how people think and feel, important capacities that distinguish humans from other living things.

This session analyses at a small corpus of picturebooks - e.g. The Fly! (Horácek, 2011), No! (Altés, 2011), Aaaarrgghh! Spider! (Monks, 2007) - that present common social situations for primary children (e.g. daily routines and owning a pet), but which provide access to ‘an other’s story’, as such showing and telling another point of view through animal protagonists. Looking in particular at the image word interaction, I argue that by using such picturebooks in the FL classroom, and by stimulating active learning through interpretation and booktalk, it is possible to contribute to enhancing primary learners’ emotional intelligence, in particular, their theory of mind and empathy skills.
Period26 Aug 202127 Aug 2021
Event title“This is my story” 2nd Storytelling Conference
Event typeConference
Conference number2
LocationZurich, SwitzerlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • picturebooks
  • Empathy
  • theory of mind
  • EFL
  • Interpretation