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Judging a book by its cover: Preschool children’s aesthetic preferences for picture books

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This article discusses the results of a research investigation into the aesthetic preferences of young children, aged 2–5, with regard to their choice of picture book covers. The objective was to assess the nature of children’s aesthetic preferences by observing which picture book covers they like as they peruse a selection of them (abstract, representational, colourful, and black and white illustrations). The results of the research indicate that 2-, 3- and 4-year-old children gravitate towards book covers that are representational and colourful and that have images that they are familiar with. Five-year-old children preferred colourful and black and white images. However, the difference, when compared to younger children, is that they liked illustrations that are scary and mysterious. Literacy learning should be child-led with the teacher serving as facilitator during the process. This includes allowing children to have access to a variety of books with covers that are aesthetically pleasing to them, not to adults.

Keywords: aesthetics; literacy; picture books; young children

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Toledo

Publication date: July 12, 2011

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.
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