Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 129–147 | Cite as

Reading and Reinterpreting Picture Books on Children’s Television: Implications for Young Children’s Narrative Literacy

  • Kunkun ZhangEmail author
  • Emilia Djonov
  • Jane Torr
Original Paper


Bookaboo is a television programme aiming to promote literacy and reading among young children. In each episode, a celebrity reads a book to Bookaboo, a dog who plays the drums in a rock band, in order to help him overcome stage fright. Using the episode featuring the picture book (Cowell and Layton in That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, 2006) as a case study, this article explores how this type of adaptation of picture books transforms the original narrative, with implications for children’s developing narrative literacy. Taking a multimodal social semiotic perspective, this study investigates the changes in meaning which result from the employment of semiotic resources such as animation, sound, and camera movement in the representation of the book on the television show. We argue that the deployment of such resources can subtly reshape the meanings expressed through the modes of language and images in the original picture book, potentially affecting the child viewer’s engagement with the narrative. Examining the use of these resources in the picture book’s televisual representation is thus an important first step towards developing frameworks for evaluating the ability of television programmes that incorporate picture book reading to support children’s literacy.


Picture books Television for children Narrative across media Adaptation Multimodal social semiotics Narrative literacy 



The first author is currently supported for his PhD study by a CSC-MQ scholarship co-funded by China Scholarship Council [No. 201308370161] and Macquarie University [No. 2013136]. Additionally, we would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback and Dr. Catherine Butler for her excellent editorial support. We also would like to express our thanks to Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton for giving permission to reprint the illustrations from their picture book That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Early Childhood, Faculty of Human SciencesMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

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