Experts: Pictures often facilitate learning among young children

04:36 PM | 19 Apr, 2018
Experts: Pictures often facilitate learning among young children
SHARJAH - The visual world of books and their teachings were explored during a panel discussion entitled “Pictures that Teach Us” at the Sharjah Children Reading’s Festival on Wednesday.

Taking part in the panel discussion were, Safwan Leqah, Children’s Book Illustrator from Morocco, Kate Messner, an American author of children’s books and moderated by Emirati poet Shaikha Al Mutairi.

Shaikha Al Mutairi spoke of the different facets images in books have. “Some people believe pictures are just colours on paper but they can be a memory or a poem,” she said. “We actually taste and enjoy the vision of that picture. This taste comes from colour, passion, smell, and that picture sums up many things in our life.”


According to Safwan Leqah, when we hold a book in our hands, we have two scripts – the story and the picture itself. “Pictures are what make the child,” he said. “Maybe children only see the pictures at first, they look deep into them, then read the text.”

He explained that a book without pictures would not be as successful, as the child would not be able to hold it himself and be his own storyteller. He will benefit more with illustrations because they will expand his imagination. Images are quite important, even if they’re simple drawings,” Leqah said. “Young children, even babies and toddlers of two to three years of age, comprehend a lot of things, from my own experience.”

He said that drawings and paintings used to characterise animals and insects were more successful for books. With his wall paintings, he uses global stories, such as Alice in Wonderland or Snow White.

Kate Messner, spoke of her experience living on a lake by the Adirondack mountains – an area filled with rainbows over the water and eagles that fly by. “I’m always the person who comes running to everyone in the neighbourhood if there’s something interesting to see in nature,” she said. “Writing is my way of doing that for everybody, and for children to look at these wondrous things that are part of our natural world.”

Messner has many different inspirations. When she taught English literature and writing to 12 and 13-year-olds in New York, she integrated language arts with the science.

Each year, students would be taken out to the mountains where she grew up to learn about how to track different animals in the snow. They would be challenged to observe, wonder and imagine what those animals might be doing.

When she writes a story, she imagines what the illustrator might be able to draw or paint. Upon completion, her manuscript is sent to the illustrator, making it their job to do, imagine and create that visual world. “It’s a fascinating process to be a writer that works with an illustrator,” she concluded.

The festival’s events span several programmes, under the main themes of Kids Activities, Cultural Programmes, Cultural Café, Kids' Creative Café, Social Media Café and Cookery Corner. SCRF 2018 also features a series of international theatrical performances like ‘Tuta and Monkey Cheetah’, and the ‘Island of Kids’ Area’ that combine education, fun and entertainment to highlight the values of honesty to young visitors.

A prime highlight of the festival this year is its first ever 3D Book Exhibition, featuring 250 pop-up books from the 3D Book Centre in Forli, Italy. The books have been handpicked by the exhibition curators to represent eight different periods of time. One of SCRF’s mainstays, the  Sharjah Exhibition for Children’s Books Illustrations, is featuring 355 artworks by 104 illustrators from 32 countries this year.