Questions and Activities

  1. Find a book (maybe one you read as a child) that represents the time or place in history in which it was written. Find a contemporary book which represents the current time and place in history. Imagine you are looking at either book as an outsider to that time and place. What social, cultural, or political messages, either purposeful or inadvertent, are reflected in that piece of literature?
  2. Browse the children’s books at the local library and critically analyze the messages to find books that represent a new perspective or voice that is not usually heard, such as a story told from the perspective of a character from a diverse population or a unique representation of gender roles. What social, cultural, or political messages are reflected in that piece of literature?
  3. With a partner or in a small group, communicate something about a particular topic using only gestures or movement, then using only sounds (not words), then only pictures, and then only words. Then try to communicate using a combination of these modes. Ask your audience to share their interpretations of each message.
  4. Make a list of ways you communicate daily using different modes when you experience events such as hearing a siren, seeing traffic lights, seeing a friend, communicating with someone, and listening to Pandora. Based on this list, what are other modes that could be used to communicate in these events? Which seem most effective for you? Do you think that others would use all the same modes? Explain your thinking to others.
  5. As proposed by this chapter, consider the variety of ways that authors may invite multimodal interpretations and locate a children’s book that communicates using audio, gesture, or space in addition to print and visual modes. How might you use these books with students who have difficulty communicating through reading and writing?
  6. Select texts and create arts-based response activities in each area (drama, music, dance, and visual art) designed to enhance understanding of the texts. Share your idea with two other classmates and determine the state standards that connect to the arts-based response activities each person designed.