Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Picture Books as a Social Studies Resource in the Elementary School Classroom

Picture Books as a Social Studies Resource in the Elementary School Classroom. This ia an essay which shows how many kids books can be used to teach history and other related subjects.

From the site:

As we enter the "information age," our need to process volumes of data quickly and efficiently increases. The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" suggests the expressive power of images. Elements of design--line, shape, color, value, and space--are the lexicon of images. Organized and ordered by the design principles--balance, emphasis, harmony, variety, gradation, movement, rhythm, and proportion--an image's expressive qualities are determined by these factors. Visual literacy, the ability to comprehend meaning in images, requires critical viewing skills. Unlike moving images, images in picture books allow the sustained viewing time necessary for developing critical viewing skills through exploration, critique, and reflection. Although commonly considered part of the literary arts, picture books are useful tools for teaching many abstract and complex concepts of the social studies at the elementary level.


Images may function as allegories which provide intuitive understanding of complex events or relationships. A powerful image may become a mental "bookmark" of a historic event by capturing and freezing the essence of the represented event in visual allegory. Critical viewing will reveal not only the facts of the event, but also the artist's bias or point of view which either concurs with or stands in contrast to pervasive public opinion of the event. A two-volume series--"Photos that Made U.S. History, Volume I: From the Civil War to the Atomic Age," and "Volume II: From the Cold War to the Space Age," both by Edward and Daniel Wakin (1993, Walker & Company)--presents bookmark historic images followed by text which sets the scene, introduces the photographer, and describes how each photograph shaped public sentiment and government policies. Photographs, posters, paintings, and primary documents from the archives of the Library of Congress are organized in a series of thematic books by Martin W. Sandler: "Pioneers" (1994), "Cowboys" (1994), "Civil War" (1996), and "Immigrants" (1995, HarperCollins Publishers).


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