Judging a Book by Its Cover: An Investigation of Peritextual Features in Caldecott Award Books
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- Martinez, M., Stier, C. & Falcon, L. Child Lit Educ (2016) 47: 225. doi:10.1007/s10583-016-9272-8
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While scholars have recognized the meaning making potential offered by the peritext of picturebooks, there has previously been only limited research on the nature of peritextual features. This content analysis focused on the ways in which various peritextual features (dust jackets, beginning endpapers, illustrations before title page, title pages, half title pages, dedication/copyright pages, final endpapers, and notes) contribute to the development of narratives in Caldecott award winning books published between 1938 and 2013. We found that in these quality picturebooks, peritextual features (particularly those appearing before the text of the story) contain rich character and setting information, as well as clues that often point to the genre of a story. In more recently published books especially, important plot elements may unfold only in the peritext. This analysis suggests that peritextual features frequently offer critical information that readers can use to build a framework for stepping into story worlds. Educators attuned to the potentially abundant information in the peritext may guide young readers in exploring these features, and thus foster in their students a richer understanding and fuller engagement with the narrative.