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Last updated:

April 8, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


Many people have fond memories of the stories they encountered in childhood, perhaps especially of those wonderful picture books and illustrated tales that fired our young imaginations and transported us to magical worlds. To an adult’s eye, some picture books may seem remarkably simple, even oversimplified. However, in this free course, Exploring books for children: words and pictures, you will learn how children’s books use words and pictures together in remarkably sophisticated ways to communicate both to young and older readers, drawing on examples from the classics, such as Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit, and from contemporary children’s authors such as Anthony Browne, author of Gorilla.


Pictures have played an important role in books for children ever since there have been publications produced particularly with children in mind. But how do stories and picturebooks encountered in childhood fire young imaginations? In this free course Exploring books for children: words and pictures you will learn how children’s fiction, ranging from classics such as Beatrix Potter to contemporary authors like Anthony Browne, combines images and text in remarkably sophisticated ways to communicate with young and old.

Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • Understand how images communicate meanings to the readers of children’s books
  • Understand the role of cultural knowledge in making sense of images
  • Understand how words and pictures can reinforce or contradict one another in a text, with interesting results
  • Recognize the work of some famous illustrators for children
  • Understand how the use of images in children’s books has changed over time and what it means to create books for the specific audiences of children and their carers.

Course Curriculum

    • Words and Pictures in Children’s Fiction Through the Ages 00:40:00
    • Making Sense of Pictures 00:50:00
    • Combining Words and Pictures 00:50:00
    • Book Design and Intended Radership 01:00:00
    • Illustration 00:40:00
    • Illustration as Interpretation: the Example of Alice 01:10:00
    • Analysing Images: Composition and Symbolism 01:10:00
    • An Authorstrator Comments on his Craft 00:50:00
    • Conclusion 00:20:00
    • Exploring Books for Children: Words and Pictures 00:30:00

About the instructor

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Open University UK