Children’s Literacy, the Biblia Pauperum, and the Wiles of Images
The recent rise in the quality and quantity of beautifully illustrated children's books has been extraordinary. Teachers and parents can attest to this proliferation and to the great joys to be had in reading such books with children. Phenomenologically speaking—that is, from the perspective of lived experience—images have a sense of power and allure to them, a sense of agency. In early elementary school, images are patiently allowed to help with decoding the words of a text, but children must mature and eventually forgo such dependence. Reliance on images is at best childish and, at worst, animalistic, bodily, devilish, wilful, deceptive, seductive, and untrue. The terms and fears and power of the debate can be seen in the most commonplace of events in the classroom—reading a lusciously illustrated book to young children. Children are simply pointers to abstract psycholinguistic figurations involving the development and management of children's literacy decoding skills.