THE PICTUREBOOK PROJECT: A META/ETHNOGRAPHICALLY INFORMED CASE STUDY ON THE AESTHETIC RESPONSES OF CHILD READERS AT AN URBAN COMMUNITY CENTER

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Author:
Hudock, Laura Anne
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
June 15, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Vivian Yenika-Agbaw, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Vivian Yenika-Agbaw, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Patrick Shannon, Committee Member
  • Daniel D. Hade, Committee Member
  • Christine Thompson, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • picture books
  • picturebooks
  • reading response
  • aesthetic stance
  • glowing data
  • children's literature
  • case study
  • environment
  • affordances
  • affordance theory
  • metafiction
  • boundary-breaking
  • loose parts
  • sociocultural context
  • elementary-aged children
  • community center
  • out-of-school
  • urban
  • ethnographically informed
  • microethnography
  • microethnographically informed
  • Common Core
  • reader response theory
  • literacy
  • multimodal
  • subversion
  • imagination
  • creativity
  • metapicturebooks
Abstract:
Numerous twenty-first century picturebooks engender literacy practices that not only coax critical analysis of craft and narrative structures, but also welcome innovation and exploration of their design affordances. Certain titles and open-ended ways of transaction embedded in a socially situated reading experience promote reader responses that deviate from English Language Arts standards that privilege print-centric texts as imparter of authoritative meaning while undervaluing lived experiences of individual child readers and social constructivism. Instead, an underappreciated "aesthetic impulse" prevails among these picturebooks (Sipe, 2008b). This study draws on the embodied aesthetic experiences of elementary-aged readers occasioned during a pragmatic intervention (Rosenblatt, 1985; Heath, 1982), for such enriching perceptual experiences extends beyond children’s literature as “art product” to encompass sociocultural dimensions that give rise to their affective sense of fulfillment and pleasure (Shusterman, 2013). Absent in-school pressures and accountability of high-stakes English Language Arts standards, this dissertation, a meta/ethnographically informed case study known as The Picturebook Project aimed to take a step towards an ongoing curation of “glowing data” (MacLure, 2010) reflective of child reader’s lively and multifaceted aesthetic responses to these particular picturebooks in order to: (1) further explore Sipe’s (2008) grounded theoretical findings on aesthetic impulse that celebrate the freedom of a picturebook’s interpretive possibilities; and (2) propose the construction of meaning potentials of environment (setting, culture, and tools) and elementary-aged readers as mutually co-constitutive in joyful reading transactions. Interested child participants, ages 7-9, adult directors and staff members, and visitors to a public exhibit of these responses were recruited from a daytime Summer Care Program at an urban community center located in a historically African-American neighborhood with a high immigrant population within a Mid-Atlantic city's greater metropolitan area. Under adult facilitation and peer collaboration, the child participants’ ensuing aesthetic experiences generated new meaning-making possibilities that often diverged from their familiar in-school prescriptive reading instruction geared for English Language Learners (ELLs). While jointly transacting with the environment at hand they enjoyed creative contemplation of picturebooks’ affordances as perceivable action possibilities and defying the mimetic construction of boundaries separating fictional and social worlds.