Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 261–281

A Gorilla with ‘Grandpa's Eyes’: How Children Interpret Visual Texts—A Case Study of Anthony Browne's Zoo

  • Morag Styles
  • Evelyn Arizpe


This article explores the multilayered nature of a single picture book by Anthony Browne and the sophisticated responses (including their own pictures) children aged 4–11 bring to interpreting such a text. Emphasis is laid on the high-level cognitive skills involved in reading visual images and links are made between seeing and thinking. Some features of the children's understanding are examined in detail; for example, how they interpret visual imagery and deal with a variety of challenging artistic features, and how their drawings show knowledge and feelings they are not yet able to articulate. The findings also suggest that some children who are not yet confident at reading print have developed impressive capacities for analysing image.

visual literacy Anthony Browne picture books student responses children's drawings 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Browne, Anthony, Zoo. London: Julia MacRae, 1992.Google Scholar
  2. Doonan, Jane, “Drawing out ideas: A second decade of the work of Anthony Browne,” The Lion and the Unicorn, 1999, 23(1).Google Scholar
  3. Kress, G., and van Leeuwen, T., Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge, 1996.Google Scholar
  4. Meek, Margaret, How Texts Teach What Readers Learn. Stroud: Thimble Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  5. Vygotsky, Lev, Mind in Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morag Styles
  • Evelyn Arizpe

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations