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Children’s Literature in Action Book Publication and Launch

Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths, University of London

30 September 2022

A lot has been written and said by critics, authors, parents and teachers about children’s books and how they benefit children. But what do the children say? How do they respond to stories and use them to create their personal inner landscapes of meaning?

Goldsmiths, University of London, proudly presents ‘Children’s Literature in Action’ which explores this question through the power of practitioner and action research.

This innovative book contains a series of highly original research studies carried out by students taking the ‘Children’s Literature in Action’ module which is part of the MA Children’s Literature programme. These studies were carried out by MA students between 2014 and 2021. The authors investigate the power and impact of a range of different reading experiences for children from reception to secondary school age. Focusing on different ways in which children’s literature supports the development of empathy, critical thinking and creativity, the book is divided into four sections, each with an introduction by the editors.

Part One: six studies explore the impact of picturebooks on children’s reading and how picturebooks can be used in practice to deepen understanding of children’s own literary lives and their understanding of the wider world.

Part Two: six studies look at how culture and humour motivate young readers. These chapters truly reflect the power of practitioner and action research and should give the reader a spark to give it a go themselves.

Part Three: four studies discuss the use of poetry in the reading and language classroom as a highly personal and effective way to develop reflexivity and be empowered by the nuances of language

Part Four: three studies, undertaken during the pandemic, focus on relationships and how

they affect reading motivation. It reflects a few of the diverse physical spaces and types of relationships in which children may actively connect with stories.

Children’s Literature in Action is beautifully illustrated by our MA Children’s Literature book illustrators (in collaboration with a creative writer). The three lead editors are Richard Charlesworth, Deborah Friedland and Helen Jones. There are 19 MA alumni contributing their outstanding research studies to the book with an introduction by Dr Julia Hope and Professor Michael Rosen and a conclusion by Professor Vicky Macleroy.

Cover design and Reading Relationships Illustration by Georgia Cowley

You can purchase a paperback version of the book here.

You can also read an e-copy of the book hosted on the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning website accessed here: Children’s Literature in Action E-Book

You can watch a recording of the ‘Children’s Literature in Action’ book launch here.

 

Blog by Deborah Friedland, Helen Jones and Richard Charlesworth (Lead Editors)

IBBY Children’s Literature Silent Book Exhibition

Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Event – Goldsmiths, University of London

11 March 2022 – 10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Poster print design for the book exhibition by Ningjing Yuan, MA Children’s Book Illustration student, Goldsmiths, University of London

This was a wonderful opportunity to see an Exhibition of Silent Books from the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour List 2017.

74 Silent Books from 20 countries

(Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, UK, USA)

What is a silent book? This seems an odd term for a book that always seems so polyphonic – full of voices and sounds. Silent books are picturebooks, comics and graphic novels with no words to tell the narrative. Words may appear on signs and in the illustrations but do not guide or tell the story.

Many of the books are very experimental. I feel like as we grow older, we tend to oversee and overcomplicate everything so some of the books are a bit hard to read and understand without words, but once you slow down and try to see things exactly as they are, it starts to make sense (exhibition visitor).

The exhibition was originally shipped from Switzerland, and we transformed the Top Floor of the Educational Studies department into an exhibition space. The PhD and MA Children’s Literature students helped to set up and run the exhibition. Over 50 visitors came to the exhibition and became fascinated about how the illustrators from different cultures and countries had decided to illustrate their stories. Reflections written, scribbled, drawn on post-it notes stuck on a large outline of a book captured some of the varied and fascinating reading experiences of visitors to the exhibition who came to browse and then stayed for hours.

Reflective snippets from exhibition visitors

A very impressive exhibition – very inspiring, which recalls my bygone days, full of fun and imagination, and cultural messages.

Really inspiring exhibition! I particularly loved the different styles and ways to tell a story without words.

A great exhibition! Interesting to see a common theme of children going on an imaginary journey with their toys.

Lovely variety of books. Lots of journeys. I intend to buy some of them for my school.

Really fantastic! It’s a good chance for me to enjoy so many great works!

Fascinating selection – so many different types of narrative.

Very reluctantly had to tear myself away from this very yummy selection! Thank you so much for this treat!

Such a great book will make the reader feel amazing!

Love this book so much! I can’t wait to start drawing now.

I want to repeat the story again and again.

Lovely book, good illustrations, captivating story, bold colours, and the sense of motion.

This book definitely shows how silent books can work on many levels and can be both for adults and children.  

It was a great experience. I love all the books. So amazing!

I realised the charm of silent books! Books in every country have their own styles. Lovely!

Do read more about IBBY Silent Book Exhibitions and how they came into being. You can access resources on reading these books in a community with different languages and a booklet using Silent Books with children.

https://www.ibby.org/awards-activities/activities/silent-books/?L=0

We look forward to hosting a new exhibition of Silent Books at Goldsmiths in 2023. If you are interested in a PhD or MA Children’s Literature (3 pathways – Issues and Debates, Creative Writing; Children’s Book Illustration) contact me at Goldsmiths: v.macleroy@gold.ac.uk

Blog by Vicky Macleroy

Curriculum and Pedagogy: Approaches to internationalising UK universities through culturally responsive multilingual classrooms

Globalisation has become the central issue of our time and defined the world we inherited. Such processes have been taking place for a long time, but have been accelerated and intensified in the past few decades by the increasing digitalisation; the accelerating cross-border financial flows and human traffic, the integrating trading and economic activity, and increasing use of common currencies and languages across different nations. The impact that these changes are having on universities is profound and, within universities, the key strategic responses to globalisation have come to be known as internationalisation. Therefore, it can be understood that the concepts of globalisation and internationalisation have attained household status in many fields of human endeavour, especially in higher education (Maringe & Foskett, 2010). Or in other words, the reciprocity that exists between these two concepts. For example, the intensification of student mobility that may result from an institutional strategy to increase overseas student recruitment contributes to the further intensification of globalisation. Similarly, intensifying curriculum internationalisation processes will result in making the university educational product more attractive and therefore help to increase student mobility in recruitment markets. As a result, over the past 10 or 12 years, the term internationalisation has gone from nowhere to be everywhere across UK universities, which hastened the publication of The Internationalisation of Higher Education Whitepaper in 2016.

However, there are reportedly disadvantages and low attainments among international students. This is worsening in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the intense UK-China relations. Chinese international students in particular have encountered ever increasing racial profiling in UK universities. There is limited research on how neoliberal discourse in education has impacted on the identities of  international students and how attainments of international students are affected by internationalisation, marketisation, and racialisation (neo-racism or cultural discrimination) in UK HE (Smith, 2020). Research on UK BAME domiciled students identified ethnic inequalities in UK elite university admissions, widening student attainment gaps, and racial privilege (see Alexander & Arday, 2015; Sian, 2019). This focus however does not capture the experiences of racialised international students. Studies of international students focus on their intercultural challenges but overlook the wider political issues associated with marketisation and racialisation. Culture shocks and alienation are revealed in experiences of Chinese international students (Gu, 2009). To cope, some adopt various learning modes (Wu, 2015). Many ‘cuddle for warmth’ with each other and foster ‘Chinese schools’ within UK HE (Yu & Moskal, 2019). This is driven by both growing Chinese nationalism and the ‘re-learning’ of cultural roots in foreign and alienating context (Gu & Schwersfurth, 2015). The literature on diversity and inclusion strategies in UK HE argues that the pursuit of economic efficiency creates institutional constraints on teachers to develop inclusive pedagogies (Hockings, 2010). This in turn often reinforces the culture shocks and alienation experienced by International students.

It is within the above context, the proposed project aims to make a wholistic study of the curriculum design and the pedagogy implemented, examining both attainments and changing identities of university (Chinese) international students in the processes of market driven learning experience within the context of HE reforms across the UK and China, the increasingly tense UK-China relations, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The project employs questionnaire surveys, interviews, and focus groups for its inquiry with attempt to support UK-HE policymakers in their efforts to provide an equal and inclusive HE and inform culturally responsive multilingual classrooms.

Blog by Yangguang Chen 

 

How collaboration can bring Portuguese into mainstream schools

What is a language policy? How are language policies created? How do educators recognise and interpret a language policy when they see one? How does their interpretation open or indeed close opportunities for bilingual and multilingual education?

Drawing on her doctoral research and on her experiences as a mother of a bilingual child, a community school founder, a teacher and an administrator of the overseas language provision offered by the Portuguese Government in the UK, Cátia Verguete reflects upon these matters and argues for closer collaboration between the complementary sector and mainstream education.

The innovative pedagogical activities arising from this collaboration can sustain more than one type of multilingualism, benefitting all pupils, irrespective of their linguistic repertoire.

The broader study demonstrated that when Portuguese teachers were invited to work collaboratively with their mainstream counterparts, there were more language learning and teaching opportunities being created and being implemented more effectively. This could be by offering Portuguese language and culture courses throughout the school day, or by supporting Portuguese-speaking pupils in English and maths by pre-teaching them the content in Portuguese. This type of collaboration requires delving into discussions and negotiations about curriculum, timetabling and other such school structures.

The article in The Linguist, the bimonthly journal of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Linguists, is a reminder that languages policies, whether they are official governmental regulations or implicit behaviours normalised in our sociocultural daily routines, can be powerful mechanisms in facilitating or curtailing opportunities for language use and language learning and teaching.

Blog by Cátia Verguete

How is pacifism and war resistance in World War I and II represented in UK children’s literature?

Conference paper for IBBY Congress, 2022: Dr Julia Hope and Rosemary Rich

As an “insider” research team, being the descendants of a conscientious objector in World War II, this paper brings together our respective fields of historical memory studies and literary theory to consider children’s literature about pacifism and war resistance.  Over the ages, a multitude of children’s books about war have offered many different angles on the adventure, hardships, and suffering involved.  Such stories have become increasingly popular since the turn of the century, offering a progressively more realistic treatment, with wars in living memory providing the largest corpus, although recent conflicts around the world are also coming into focus.  However, little has been written that confronts themes of pacifism and war resistance for children, especially concerning conscientious objection.

With a particular focus on World War I and II, we explore through critical content analysis (Johnson et al., 2017) how this contentious area is dealt with in four recently published middle grade/young adult texts recently published in the UK. Two books chosen focus on World War I: “Remembrance” by Theresa Breslin (2002) and “Across the Divide” by Anne Booth (2018); and two on World War II: “Run Rabbit Run” by Barbara Mitchelhill (2015) and “In the Mouth of the Wolf” by Michael Morpurgo (2018).

Using this framework we ask the following questions: Whose story is told? From whose point of view? How is pacifism and war resistance presented and explained to children and young people?  How do wartime attitudes compare with those of the present day?  How is the story resolved and what might this suggest about author standpoint?

These controversial issues would seem to be a necessary part of the wide-ranging tapestry of children’s literature that demonstrates the power of stories, within the theme of empathy and memory in storytelling, with a particular focus on moral values, peace and human rights.

Blog by Julia Hope

Applying RefugeeCrit to Recent Middle Grade/Young Adult Children’s Literature About Refugees

Dr Julia Hope has just completed a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of Refugee Narratives entitled: “Applying RefugeeCrit to Recent Middle Grade/Young Adult Children’s Literature About Refugees” and to be published imminently.

This chapter considers that since the millennium there have been a plethora of texts about the refugee experience for children and young people across the Western world.  Although not a homogeneous category, literature of this kind can follow an almost formulaic representation of the refugee experience, with a recent trend towards increasingly grim and explicit depictions of the suffering of refugee children, especially when trapped in refugee camps.

There is an emergent field of academic study that questioning the motivations of authors, the messages of such stories, and the images of refugees proffered by the books.  I examine in depth two middle grade/young adult texts, “The Bone Sparrow” by Zara Fraillion (2016) and “Boy, Everywhere” by A. M. Dassu (2020), both of which have received considerable public acclaim.  However, RefugeeCrit suggests that narratives can depict refugee children as victims of politically sanitised global disasters, without background explanation of the causes, and in need of “white saviours” with “helping hands” to bring them to safety.  Nevertheless, this framework is helpful in critiquing these texts, but can prove challenging when authoring this literature, and when recommending quality refugee narratives for middle grade/young adult readers.

                           

Blog by Julia Hope

Opening up multilingual spaces in the superdiverse primary school

Schools are and have always been places of languages. Children and educators talk to each other, they talk over each other, they listen. Yet, they do more: they bring their linguistic repertoires into the school, they hope to find their voices in the classroom and to achieve something with the words they say both for participating in their groups of peers and colleagues and for learning and teaching. At the same time, mainstream schools are places of language ideologies that regulate whose language experiences count as knowledge and whose do not. Walking down the High Street of any neighbourhood, we hear a plethora of languages; yet the mainstream school remains more often than not a strangely monolingual space that confines children’s superdiverse voices to its unofficial niches. My curiosity began here: How do children’s linguistic repertoires and the schools’ language ideologies come in contact with each other? How do educators and children negotiate the meanings of those repertoires and ideologies? And how does this play out in classrooms, where children have on average nine or ten languages in their linguistic repertoires?

(pupil, Year 4)

My research (PhD 2021 at Goldsmiths) addressed teacher agency in multilingual pedagogies – a lens with considerable conceptual power, because it allows for an exploration of both the educator’s present role and possibilities for new pedagogical developments. I talked and listened to class teachers. Yet, within the ethnographic study, my interest and curiosity needed to move on: Debates around multilingual pedagogies evolve fast in many schools worldwide; their ‘local’ circumstances as much influenced by traces of transnational movements – past and present – in the neighbourhood as by education policies. Globalisation and transnational migration are frequently referred to when these pedagogies are advocated. But is the ordinary, mainstream, superdiverse primary school sufficiently considered? Thus, I listened to children in these classrooms talking about their language experiences, the diverse meanings their languages have for them, and their ideas for what they could do with these languages in school; a question which pupils are rarely asked. The ethnographic inquiry showed the vital role of class teachers as experts of the classroom and as advocates of broader pedagogical perspectives, but it highlighted also the numerous constraints for educators in an institution that is often still firmly rooted in monolingualising ideologies.

Talking about languages

… to do more with your languages in school? Would that be a good idea?

 … yes (…) because everyone can hear your language and what you can do with it

  (pupil, Year 3)

Based on the insights from this research, a book is going to be published in March 2024, and the findings will be used in further lines of research, designing and exploring formats for professional development. More spaces for multilingual pedagogies will – and can only – open up, if teachers feel empowered to explore multilingualism together with their students, and when all three – educators, children and researchers – find spaces to voice and share their experiences.

Blog by Thomas Quehl

Thomas taught for many years at inner-city primary schools in Germany and teaches now in London. He obtained an MA at UCL’s Institute of Education in 1997/98, and this encounter resulted in two books (ed. & transl. from English) in 2000 and 2006, which focused on anti-racist pedagogy and the institutional discrimination of multilingual students. In 2011/12, he re-trained for British schools with a PGCE at Goldsmiths where he also received his PhD in 2021 and is a Visiting Research Fellow.

 

Why and how should we encourage young people to research their local parks and green spaces?

Our parks have a problem with young people. While our parks cater for children aged 0-8 years with playgrounds, they too frequently make older children feel unwelcome and unwanted, particularly young people from poorer backgrounds. This is because young people struggle to find their own spaces and activities in them, and often feel they are unfairly blamed for things like anti-social behaviour (Aalst & Brands: 2021: Brown 2013). The privatisation of park spaces has led to them feeling victimised by various authorities (such as security guards, park wardens and the police) and excluded from parks, even though parks are one of the few places they can come together in groups. While small minorities, such as skateboarders, might be provided for in terms of activities, the majority of young people have few activities open to them, and little power to say what they want from their parks (Brown 2013).

So what can be done?

The research we are doing at Goldsmiths intends to change this situation. It’s called the Parklife Project and it’s headed by myself, but involves many different academics, students, school pupils and people connected to parks, both professional and ‘amateur’.

The aim of the research is to make young people feel like they can engage properly with their parks, and use parks to foster their own wellbeing and environmental awareness as well as other park users. Fortunately, this March 2022, we were delighted to receive some seed funding from Goldsmiths’ Strategic Research Fund to carry out a pilot for what we hope could be a much bigger project. So far the results have been wonderful.

Connecting up with the British Academy and Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK), we brought together a number of undergraduates and masters’ students from Goldsmiths, and helped them work with some pupils at a secondary school near to the university. The Parklife project seeks to see if more creative approaches to research can be successful, so as part of the research process, 11-14 year old pupils worked the Goldsmiths’ students to write poems, to draw pictures, to photograph and film their local park. They then reflected upon this work, and took the research process further by questioning school pupils, park users of all sorts, local businesses ecological experts and professionals connected with parks, such as park managers and people who organise the contracts for parks. Using this research, they have drawn up action points for improving their local park, and will be addressing policy makers, local politicians, representatives from park user groups, the police and park managers about what they think should be done. The aim is for young people to learn how to research their parks and promote meaningful ecological, social and psychological change in park users.

You can watch a video which explains how the Goldsmiths’ students went about conducting the research here: https://youtu.be/R3ppVlUMjo8

You can also read a Goldsmiths’ student’s blog about the project here.

References

Aalst, I-van & Brands, J. (2021) Young people: being apart, together in an urban park, Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 14:1, 1-17, DOI: 10.1080/17549175.2020.1737181

Brown, D.M. (February 2013) Young People, Anti-social Behaviour and Public Space: The Role of Community Wardens in Policing the ‘ASBO Generation’ Author(s): Urban Studies Vol. 50, No. 3, Special Issue: Young People’s Im/Mobile Urban Geographies (FEBRUARY 2013), pp. 538-555 https://www.jstor.org/stable/26144227

Blog by Francis Gilbert

The Remaking of Language Education

Read about an exciting new book publication co-edited by 4 members of the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning and published in February 2022.

This blog was first published on the Multilingual Matters website:

https://channelviewpublications.wordpress.com/2022/02/24/the-remaking-of-language-education/

Liberating Language Education emerged from our desire to unite our passion about language, education, and lived multilingualism with our visions of what language education can mean, feel, and look like in times of unprecedented change and uncertainty. This passion is reflected in our personas of ‘the weaver’, ‘the fool’, ‘the traveller’ and ‘the activist’ in the introduction of the book: they illustrate the complexity and richness of language experience and language learning across the lifespan and highlight the entanglements of the personal and biographical with the historical and socio-cultural dimensions of language and language pedagogy.

This kaleidoscopic perspective is amplified by the plurality and heterogeneity of voices and orientations manifested in the chapter contributions. The book calls into question a single and unified approach to language, culture, and identity, dismantling monolingual and prescriptivist discourses of pedagogy that have long dominated language education. Instead, it proposes new ways of understanding language and language education that move beyond rationalist and instrumental perspectives and emphasise locally situated meaning-making practices, messiness, and unpredictability.

These new ways liberate our understanding of language to encompass the full range of semiotic repertoires, aesthetic resources, and multimodal practices. They reimagine language education from a translingual and transcultural orientation, showcasing multiple, alternative visions of how language education might be enacted. The translingual, transcultural and transformative approach to pedagogy that underpins the book rests on the following principles:

  • an integrated and inclusive view of language and language learning
  • challenging binaries and fixed positions between formal/informal learning, school/home literacies, schools/other sites of learning
  • attention to language hierarchies and linguistic and social inequalities
  • a synergetic relationship between language and culture
  • the transformative process of language learning as reconfiguring our existing communicative resources and nurturing new ways of being, seeing, feeling and expressing in the world
  • foregrounding embodied, material and aesthetic perspectives to pedagogy
  • emphasis on learner and teacher agency and making their voices heard
  • supporting multiple ways of knowing and a decolonising stance to knowledge building
  • creating trusting, respectful and collaborative relations in research and shared ownership of knowledge

This critical and creative translingual and transcultural orientation repositions teachers, learners and researchers as active language policy creators in the remaking of language education today.

Vally Lytra, Cristina Ros i Solé, Jim Anderson and Vicky Macleroy

For more information about this book please see the Multilingual Matters website.

You can access this podcast where Vally Lytra discusses Liberating Language Education and what vision underpins this collective project:

You can also access Vicky Macleroy talking about Liberating Language Education for the Multilingual Matters Spring Conference 2022:

 

Sustaining multilingualism and social and emotional well-being among multilingual families during the pandemic

In our second webinar of the virtual events series ‘Re-imagining language education during and after Covid-19: opportunities, challenges and possible futures’ we attend to the lived experiences of multilingual families during the pandemic. We show how the digital mediation of communication has shifted language use in transnational families (in some cases towards the majority language for home schooling purposes, in other cases in support of the heritage language, celebrating the oft-ignored role of grandparents in heritage language maintenance), expanded possibilities for interaction between extended family networks and facilitated the creation of new “brave spaces” (Mahera Ruby) to express uncomfortable feelings associated with, for example, grief and financial instability.

Our four invited panellists Dr Mahera Ruby (Personal growth and family coach, founder of ‘Blooming Parenting’); Busra Akgun-Ezin (PhD candidate, Goldsmiths, University of London); Dr Sara Young (Lecturer, UCL/Institute of Education) and Linda North (parent and teacher assistant at the Czech School without Borders London) share personal and community experiences on these and other topical questions raised by the audience:

  • How has communication adapted and changed within multilingual families during the pandemic?
  • What role can language play in sustaining social and emotional resilience during times when we are told to keep apart in order to stay safe?
  • What new possibilities for language learning and interaction within families might the digital mediation of communication open and how might these be sustained?

The webinar is organised and moderated by Dr Froso Argyri and Dr Vally Lytra.

Watch the webinar and join the conversation.

 

About ‘Re-imagining language education during and after Covid-19: opportunities, challenges and possible futures’: We are a group of researchers based at the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, at Goldsmiths and UCL BiLingo. We are passionate about multilingualism and language education and want to share our passion with language educators from formal and non-formal educational settings, parents, researchers, policy makers and other interested parties. The pandemic has brought about unprecedented change and we wish to collectively reflect on how it has affected language education in the UK and beyond.

Group members: Dr Froso Argyri (UCL BiLingo), Dr Jim Andrerson (Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths), Dr Vally Lytra (Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths), Dr Merle Mahon (UCL BiLingo), Dr Vicky Macleroy (Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths), Dr Dina Mehmedbegovic-Smith (UCL BiLingo and hld) and Dr Cristina Ros i Solé (Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths).

Blog by Dr Vally Lytra