Beyond the Bedtime Story: In Search of Epistemic Possibilities and the Innovative Potential of Disquieting Picturebooks
- Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 55, Number 1, 2017
- pp. 33-41
- Additional Information
In this article I consider the innovative potential of disquieting picturebooks to catalyze critical inquiry and as an alternative to more quieting texts and practices that orient toward knowledge as a thing known. I examine five disquieting international picturebooks that take up sites of struggle in different locations and posit that each offers a different epistemic invitation to readers. The five different invitations I describe are: embracing ambiguity; opening to hurt; pausing for interruption; witnessing resistance; and hearing silences. I view this not as an exhaustive typology but rather as an exploration of the range of the kinds of disquieting that are important to critical inquiry. As some of the first texts children encounter, picturebooks make marks on experience that extend into tacit theories about reading and knowledge. I argue that disquieting picturebooks can be viewed as a form of innovation that offers varied and particular epistemic possibilities for the children and communities that read them. The picturebook, with its defining verbal and visual synergy, has particular affordances for conveying the complex simultaneity of struggle and hopefulness and for serving as a platform for social sharing and collective engagement.