AT1 Entry #4 Critical Literacy

My initial thought that ‘Critical Literacy’ was simply someone’s opinion of a book has now been challenged.  Critical literacy allows a reader to draw on their own knowledge while considering the perspectives of others. It is an essential skill needed to understand how as readers and listeners we are positioned through the power of the text.  Critical literacy enables us to consider other views while forming our own (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  Critical literacy also includes visual literacy; illustrations in a picture book (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  When communicating with people, we select the most effective and efficient signs to get the message across.  Authors do the same with their books (Rowan, 2001).

The Short and Incredible Happy Life of Riley” written by Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat (2006) is a story told by a rat who compares his needs to human needs. Both the language and illustrations used position the reader and listener, providing them with the opportunity to think about their lifestyles, beliefs and values.

The language used for the humans is a busy long string of words while rat uses short simple descriptions of his needs, positioning the reader to question the lifestyles of each, comparing and evaluating their own.  One example of language choice is: “All Riley wanted was a little stick with a pointy end……….  People of course, want more than that. They want microwave-video-dvd-sms-internet-big car…………..” (Thompson & Lissiat, 2006).

The authors deliberately chose how to represent the characters using both words and illustrations, showing the rats life to be simple and enjoyable while the humans greedy and unhealthy.  Human ‘needs’ are outweighed heavily by ‘wants’ in this book.  The author may be using the rat to represent the working class society of humans, comparing them to upper class human society.  Thompson and Lissiat in “The Short and Incredible Happy Life of Riley” (2006) persuade the reader to appreciate the simple life, to slow down and to stop wanting all the mod cons.  This book gives readers the opportunity to evaluate their lifestyles, question their needs and wants and consequently help themselves and the environment to make for a brighter future.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen: Signing & Exhibit

I Want My Hat Back” written by Jon Klassen (2011) is about a large animal, perhaps a bear, who questions various small animals to the whereabouts of his hat, concluding with the consequence for the thief.  The illustrations are essential for readers, representing who has the missing hat.  This book could tell a different story for every reader because every reader fills in the ending in their own way.  I had to read the story twice before I came to the conclusion that the larger animal ate the rabbit as punishment.  This book positions the reader to either agree on the final punishment, the rabbit being eaten or feel the rabbit’s punishment was extreme.  Klassen (2011) uses the illustrations and simple text to influence the reader that thieves need to be punished.  The individual readers own knowledge and opinion will critically influence their view.

I Want My Hat Back - page 09 (Turtle) , Jon Klassen            I Want My Hat Back - page 11 (Snake), Jon Klassen         I Want My Hat Back - page 07 (Rabbit) , Jon Klassen            I Want My Hat Back - Page 17 (Deer), Jon Klassen             I Want My Hat Back - Page 27 (Red Hat), Jon Klassen


                                                  “How can you imagine anything if the images are always there”                                                             (Critical Literacy, Media Literacy, and the Importance of Reading- Detachment (2011) Scene)


Critical Literacy, Media Literacy, and the Importance of Reading- Detachment (2011) Scene. As   retrieved from

Fishpond. (Image).  Retrieved January 1st  2014, from:

Klassen, J. (2011). I want my hat back. London, England: Walker Books.

Nucleus. (Images). Retrieved January 1st 2014, from:

Rowan, L. (2001). Write me in. Inclusive texts in the primary classroom. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association.

Thompson, C. & Lissiat, A. (2006). The short and incredibly happy life of riley. South Melbourne, Victoria: Lothian Books.

Winch, G., Johnston, R.R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing & children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.


AT1 Entry #3 Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is a combination of words, images and shapes working together to help the reader make meaning from a story (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  Words and images function together contributing to meaning making (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).

Clancy the Courageous Cow‘ is written and illustrated by Lachie Hume (2006) who was 12 years old at the time of the first draft. This book uses simplistic illustrations that directly relate to the words on the page, working alongside each other and contributing to easy meaning making. (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  This aspect of the book makes it perfect for young readers who may not necessarily read fluently, enabling them to either follow on using the illustrations or simply tell their own version of the story.

This book has bright colourful illustrations on each page clearly setting the scene. Lachie has used three dominating colours throughout his story, including in the title.  The colours orange, black and white are used continually for the characters while green, grey and blue are used for the background, creating a repetitive pattern throughout the book, helping the reader to make meaning of the story.  The last page is particularly interesting.  The calf is born with all three colours, symbolising the acceptance and merging of the two groups.  The colouring of the sky is also interesting, intending to set the mood, support the writing and help young readers analyse the feelings envisioned by the author.  The sky starts off grey and stormy looking signifying the unhappiness of the characters, reinforced by the use of words including “stormy winter’s day” and “great disappointment” (Hume, 2006).  It gradually ends up a bright blue sky representing the happy ending, supported by words including “be cows together” and “beautiful summer’s day” (Hume, 2006).

The use of comparison in the illustrations emphasises the dominating characters portrayed as much larger than the others until the last page where the two end up the same size, presenting them as equals (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).

Clancy the Courageous Cow‘ (Hume, 2006) uses cartoon conventions in the illustrations, speech bubbles and personification to help the reader draw on their own knowledge to decode the story and also adds an element of humor and fun to the story. (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  There are a variety of examples of personification including the wrestling scene and Clancy using a bandage, paint and sugar to help him to fit in with the other cows (Hume, 2006).

Hume’s use of non-demanding pictures in ‘Clancy the Courageous Cow’ (2006) compliments the simple story line of acceptance.  The clever use of visual literacy gives a message to young people that whenever you are feeling left out, don’t try to change yourself, instead work towards finding a way to fit in with others, helping yourself to feel valuable and worthwhile.  I highly recommend reading this book, taking time to not only read the words but look at the pictures.

Office Wall Quotes™ Vinyl Wall Decals #17


Amazon. (Image), Retrieved December 20th 2013, from:

Angus & Robetson. (Image). Retrieved December 20th 2013, from:

Belvedere Designs. (Image).Retrieved December 20th 2013, from:

Hume, L. (2006). Clancy the courageous cow. Malvern, South Australia: Omnibus Books.

Winch, G., Johnston, R.R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing & children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

AT1 Entry #2 Language Features

“Today we have no plans” by Jane Godwin (2012) incorporates large detailed images and a selection of language features that together create a story that is engaging and fun.   This is the essence of children’s literature.

This story is written in first person through the eyes of a child, unfolding a week in the life of a busy family.  This book has two distinct parts, with the first focusing on a hectic week and the second narrating a very different end to the week.

The first part of the story is made up of short powerful sentences using deliberate word choice and verbs to set the tone, drawing the reader into the hectic life of a family (Hill, 2006).  Sentences like “Where’s my shoes? Who’s got my brush? I left it here last night” and “I packed my lunch, my homework book ‘Mum, you need to sign it look!’”(Godwin, 2012) leaves you feeling rushed and frantic.

The second part is a contrasting Sunday.  By using longer sentences the author is forcing you to slow down.  The first page of this section has only two words on it “But then…” (Godwin, 2012) which leaves you predicting, with the title of the book foremost in your mind.  The deliberate choice of words ‘slow’, don’t rush’ and ‘might’ (Godwin, 2012) makes you instantly feel calm and relaxed.

Rhyme is a prominent and enriching language feature.  The use of rhyme in this story, like poetry, uses simple words to unleash thoughts, feelings and meaning and is best read aloud to bring out the acoustic function. (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).   “I’m always tired on Thursday night.  I close my book, turn out my light” (Godwin, 2012) is something everyone can relate to after a very busy day.  “The lesson’s over, time has gone.  Our clothes are hard to get back on” (Godwin, 2012) is exactly how you feel after a dip in a pool. The use of rhyme in this story encourages children to make predictions, helps to build vocabulary, phonics awareness and most importantly, makes the book enjoyable. (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).

today we have no plans jane godwin 3 Today we have no plans   so take the time to read this book

The imagery in “Today we have no plans” directly relates to the story, complimenting the written words.  This along with the descriptive language: “We eat our breakfast in a rush” (Godwin, 2012) and “Or run around the park” (Godwin, 2012) helps the reader to visualize the setting and adds meaning, enhancing the quality of understanding allowing you to relate and become a part of the story (Hill, 2006).

The different language features: word choice, verbs, tone, sentence structures, rhyme and imagery all enhance this book making it a pleasure to read and listen to.   “Today we have no plans” (Godwin, 2012) is definitely a book most could relate to and I would highly recommend reading this book to your children.

“A busy week, a slower day, brings time to dream and time to play”

(Godwin, 2012, back cover).


Annie Walker Illustrations. (Image). Retrieved December 13th 2013, from we-have-no-plans.html

Babyology. (Image). Retrieved December 13th 2013, from take-the-time-to-read-this-book.html

Godwin, J. (2012). Today we have no plans. Melbourne, Victoria: Penguin Group.

Hill, S. (2006). Developing early literacy: Assessment and teaching. Prahran, Victoria: Eleanor Curtain Publishing.

Winch, G., Johnston, R.R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. (2010).  Literacy: Reading, writing & children’s      literature      (4th  ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

AT1 Entry #1 Defining Children’s Literature

Children’s literature is a body of writing that opens up the opportunity to explore other times and worlds, developing understanding, emotions, motivation for actions and imagination.  Most importantly children’s literature entertains, providing personal pleasure and temporary escapism. (Lukens, 2007).  Children’s literature develops oral language through reading, allowing children to use language confidently and allowing for effective communication and participation in society (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2013). LostAndFound-OliverJeffers.jpg I thought “Lost and Found” by Oliver Jeffers (2005) was a lovely picture book about the value of friendship.  This book is written in third person and uses simple language suitable for young readers to be able to understand.  The book has minimal words on each page supported by an illustration that directly relates to what the words are saying.  This helps to support the reader in their understanding of what the author is saying and adds the element of pleasure when reading.  It allows the reader to draw on their semantic knowledge to better understand the text (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010). Oliver Jeffers uses adjectives to express the boy’s feelings throughout this story: disappointment when he felt he had failed the penguin, delight when he returns the penguin safely to the South Pole, sadness as he rows home alone and happiness when they find each other again (Jeffers, 2005).  The adjectives give the reader a better understanding of how the characters are feeling and help them to make the connection to real life feelings.  “Lost and Found” (Jeffers, 2005) also includes the use of personification.  The penguin substitutes another human being.  Oliver Jeffers makes it sound like the penguin actually helps and listens to the boy throughout their journey.  It is a way to illustrate to young readers that friendship can come from the most unusual places and should be embraced when found. Voices in the Park“Voices in the Park” by Anthony Browne (1998) is written in first person and is broken into four sections with four different people experiencing an unplanned encounter in a park and retelling their version of the meeting.  Each section is unique to the character giving the reader an insight into the individuals profile by using contrasting styles and language features.  Each voice is written using a different font and has deliberately selected language to give each voice a distinct personality helping to support the readers understanding.  It encourages the reader to explore different tones, pitch, stress and pace all of which are important in the development of oral language (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010). I believe “Voices in the Park” provides opportunity for discussion throughout the book and at the end which is also important in the development of oral language (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).  Discussions may include identifying characters and how they fit into the story, predicting what will happen next and relating this story to their own experiences in a park.

I would like to finish with a statement by Lukens, “Words are merely words, but literature for any age is words chosen with skill and artistry to give readers delight and to help them understand themselves and others.”(Lukens, 2007, p.10.)


Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2013). The Australian Curriculum: Literacy                                   introduction.  Retrieved from                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Browne, A. (1998). Voices in the park. New York: DK Publishing.

Jeffers, O. (2005). Lost and found. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Lukens, R.J. (2007). A critical handbook of children’s literature (8th ed). Boston, USA: Pearson Education.

Mother Daughter & Sons Book Review. Retrieved December 5th 2013 from:                                                                                                             

Wilkipedia: The free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 5th 2013 from:                                                                                                                               from:

Winch, G., Johnston, R.R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. (2010).  Literacy: Reading, writing & children’s                                     literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.