- Livres sans Paroles:Lampedusa à Montolieu: IBBY Italia’s Silent Picture Book Collection Goes to France
Lampedusa’s first silent picturebooks collection was at the heart of a recent IBBY UK/IBBY France/IBBY Italia project. Created almost by accident, it moved at a whirlwind pace, surprising all those involved and instigating much pedagogical cross-cultural co-operation. Livres sans Paroles: Destination Lampedusa was set up in the small book-town of Montolieu, in the south of France, as the theme for its 2016 festival of children’s literature. This short article will briefly outline the rationale for setting up the project; focus on the selection of books for each of the three classes in Montolieu’s primary school; describe how a few of the books were used in the classrooms and library; mention the involvement of the artists in their workshops to facilitate the creation of the children’s own silent books; and summarize events that happened during the three day children’s literature festival in Montolieu. Finally, it will reflect on the implications of projects such as these for extending imagination with silent picturebookss, crossing boundaries and facilitating greater cultural understanding.
Rationale for Setting up the Project
The idea for creating Livres sans Paroles: Destination Lampedusa began in a discussion with IBBY UK about how to promote IBBY Italia’s Libri Senza Parole: Destinazione Lampedusa. Links were discovered with a painting entitled Lampedusa which was made by an artist in Montolieu. It just so happened that the association Montolieu Village du Livre was searching for a theme for its next three-day children’s literature festival and the local primary school was wondering how they might best help the children of Lampedusa. Contacts were then made with IBBY France in Paris and the IBBY Executive in Switzerland and, in what seemed like no time at all, arrangements had been made for the books to be used in Montolieu’s primary school during the first half of the autumn term, 2016. Once this had been organized, links were made with three local artists who agreed to work alongside the children as they “read” the wordless picturebooks. The reason for this was that, together with the teachers, the artists wanted to glean ideas from the visual stories in the Collection that would help the children to make their own silent books for the children of Lampedusa.
Selection of Wordless Picturebookss for the Children
Once the 108 books in the first silent book collection arrived in Montolieu, they had to be read and selected for age-range suitability before being distributed to the school and library. In advance of reading the books, the teachers and librarian explained to the classes that the silent book collection was created for the children of Lampedusa, who had to flee countries that were at war and many of them spoke different languages—hence the need for stories without words. Then, over a period of six weeks, practically all the visual stories were read throughout the school, [End Page 44] with special attention being given to the themes and presentation of each silent book, whether it is suitable for the Cycle des Apprentissages (3–6 years); Cycle des Apprentissages Fondamentaux (6–9 years); or the Cycle des Approfondissements (9–11 years). In France, particularly in small villages, the librarian has very close contact with the school; and in Montolieu, the bibliothécaire spends a great deal of time in liaison with the teachers, both in planning book-related activities and choosing/sharing the books to be read.
Using the Books in the Three Classrooms and the Library
Initially, the children had the opportunity to read the visual narratives together in class, without commenting on the story. After the first reading, the older children were asked to summarize the story that they had created in their minds from the visuals, whilst the younger children discussed what they thought was happening on each page. Subsequently, they had the opportunity to discuss the stories in pairs and either create a written version of their own, tell another group about their story, or draw their own interpretations of what they had read. On several occasions each week...