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Title: A socio-cultural study exploring Greek and English 11-year-old children's responses to wordless picturebooks
Author: Iordanaki, Evangelia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 6018
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates how Greek and English 11-year-old students respond to wordless picturebooks. Through the identification of themes in their responses, the study explores the children's engagement while interpreting these books, and also demonstrates how wordless picturebooks can be addressed to and enjoyed by fluent readers. The central tenets of the thesis are described through a socio-cultural perspective of reader response theories. The approach taken places emphasis on the reader's active engagement, for each reader uses visual decoding skills and culturally-oriented knowledge in an effort to resolve the ambiguities of the pictures in a wordless story. The socio-cultural dimension is highlighted throughout this study since the entire process of reading is considered a socio-cultural event. Case studies were conducted, comprising of two groups of four 11-year-old students in England and two groups of the same size in Greece. The data collected includes the children's videoed group discussions, their drawings and their individual short semi-structured interviews. The sessions were verbatim transcribed and analysed drawing on existing frameworks for the analysis of children's discussions on picturebooks, but also incorporating new categories emerged from the data. Based on empirical evidence, this study refines and extends pre-existing research on reader response theories and wordless picturebooks. The main findings indicate that the children's engagement with wordless picturebooks is a dynamic process shaped by four factors: visual decoding, expectations, emotions, and context. The importance of expectations is particularly highlighted, as the children's narrative and cultural expectations were either reinforced or challenged by their reading of the wordless books. This study has implications for teachers, researchers and publishers. It widens the range of readership of wordless picturebooks and increases the purposes of their use, as it reveals their special nature and complexity. Last, this thesis encourages teachers to support students' technical vocabulary on images, and invites schools to integrate wordless picturebooks into their curriculum for older children.
Supervisor: Maine, Fiona Sponsor: Alexander Onassis Foundation ; Foundation for Education and European Culture (IPEP)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: wordless picturebooks ; children's responses ; socio-cultural study ; Greek school ; English school